A little over a week ago, four brave Thomas Carroll team members embarked on an adventure – the National Three Peaks Challenge, in aid of the British Heart Foundation and Mind Mental Health Charity.
They were not alone. Marking the 20th anniversary of UNA, representatives from 14 independent brokers from across the UK that form the UNA Alliance joined forces with one goal. Their objective was to climb the three highest peaks of Scotland (Ben Nevis), England (Scafell Pike) and Wales (Snowdon) within 24 hours. That’s a walking distance of 23 miles (37km) with a total ascent of 3064 metres (10,052ft). With temperatures soaring across the UK, adding to the difficulty of the challenge, we applaud those that were brave enough to take part.
The volunteers from Thomas Carroll were Greg Edwards, Barrie McCarthy, Deb Barber and Simon Bradwick. Greg Edwards, along with Barrie McCarthy, was part of the first team to cross the finish line and one of the two teams that completed the challenge within the set timeframe. Fresh from his climb, we sat down with Greg to hear all about his experience.
What kept you going?
The two charities that we were climbing in aid of, the British Heart Foundation and Mind Mental Health Charity, both do great work that is close to our hearts at Thomas Carroll. There’s nothing more motivational than knowing that you are doing something for a good cause. Walking as part of a team meant that everyone was relying on each other, so that definitely spurred me on too. Plus, I’m extremely competitive!
What was your biggest challenge?
Definitely trying to stay hydrated in this heatwave we’ve been having. It was the hottest day of the year in over 100 years in Scotland as we climbed Ben Nevis. We had to make sure that we took enough water up the mountains while also being conscious that we had to carry it all.
What was the best view?
With the time limit for the whole climb being 24 hours, we were against the clock and didn’t have a great deal of time to stop and admire the views. However, I would say Ben Nevis. It was a gorgeous day. As we climbed Scafell Pike in the dark, we got to see an amazing sunrise as we reached the top.
What did you do to train?
I walked various routes around Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons multiple times, as that was the closest thing to the actual challenge that I could have done. I also play football several times a week, and that keeps my fitness levels up.
What couldn’t you have lived without?
Aside from water, I couldn’t have done it without the encouragement of my teammates. Barrie, a Director at Thomas Carroll and the team leader, was especially good at keeping everyone’s spirits high – and not just because he had his Cardiff City kit on the whole time.
What songs were on your playlist?
I didn’t actually listen to music during the climb – communication was pretty pivotal throughout. However, there was some Shania Twain and George Michael playing on the mini bus as we travelled! It didn’t impress me much… but did help me keep the faith.
What was your favourite bit?
Definitely walking, or running rather because of the steepness, down Snowdown at the end. That was the final hurdle, and it was an amazing rush to finally reach the finish line. That’s when we found out that we had completed the challenge within the time frame. We had 15 minutes spare! We were so pleased.
What was the first thing you did after completing the challenge?
The first thing we did was have a beer at the finish line. Then I phoned my girlfriend and two-year-old son. I think the beer was deserved, so she will forgive me!
What advice would you give to anyone considering taking part next year?
Make sure you train beforehand. Definitely practise walking long distances. I would also strongly recommend travelling lightly – don’t wear heavy clothing and carry as little as possible. It’s also important to not underestimate the need to prepare yourself mentally. It’s not just about physical ability. If you’re thinking about doing it, just do it. It’s such an amazing achievement and you will feel great once it’s completed.
The amazing efforts of those that took part resulted in a massive £13,000 being raised for the British Heart Foundation and Mind Mental Health Charity. The JustGiving page will be live until November as UNA aim to smash their £20,000 target.
Everyone at Thomas Carroll would like to say a massive well done to our volunteers; Greg Edwards, Barrie McCarthy, Deb Barber and Simon Bradwick.