If you’ve read any of my other articles you’ll know that I usually cover financial planning topics; from legislative changes to market events. As Chairman of a financial planning firm, they’re very worthy topics for me to talk about. However, sometimes it’s nice to have a bit of a change, so I’m pleased to have the opportunity to write about something a little different this week. It’s a tale of adventure, set in the Welsh mountains in mid-September. Like most such stories, it begins with a rag-tag band of heroes as they prepare to take on a challenge…
Our heroes hail from 1825 offices from across the country, but all came together in Snowdonia to help make a difference to the lives of disadvantaged young people.
The challenge: Hiking 27km across three peaks (Glyder Fawr, Glyder Fach and Snowdon itself), a 45km cycle and 5km canoe.
The cause: Organised by Invesco Perpetual, the Snowdon Challenge is a fundraising event for the Youth Adventure Trust; a charity devoted to empowering vulnerable and disadvantaged young people to achieve their potential.
The result: Thanks to the 1825-ers who took part in this challenge, over £10,000 has been raised for the Youth Adventure Trust.
I’m very proud of everyone who participated in the Snowdon Challenge, and also slightly glad that it was them rather than me! On that note, I’d like to handover to Amy Higgs; part of Team 1825 Edinburgh, who will share a bit more about the experience in the Welsh mountains.
There and back again – a story by Amy Higgs
Coming from one of 1825’s more northerly points, our first ‘challenge’ was surviving the 8-hour van journey from Edinburgh to Snowdonia and the traffic on the M6.
That done, we settled into our first night in camp. This was where the pre-challenge briefing was held, and was our first warning sign that we may have taken on more than we thought… While we heard about other companies holding inter-office selections to hand-pick their final team and previous competitors being Olympic rowers, I couldn’t help but think of the fact that our final teammate was only recruited the previous week and that his last cycling experience was riding a BMX at the age of 12!
But, we were there, and we were determined. So we nestled down in our sleeping bags and prepared for the challenge ahead.
The next morning we discovered that we were Team Number 1 (as well as being team 1825). This came with the great responsibility of starting the hike first, with other teams following at two minute intervals. The challenge organisers decided not to signpost the route this year, and without any more experienced teams ahead of us we had to rely on our map-reading and navigation skills…
As it turned out, we’re better suited to financial planning than navigation, and the planned 27km hike turned into 30km after a few wrong turns along the way. It took us a total of 13 and a half hours to summit the three peaks and make our way to the finish line, meaning that the last 3km were completed in the dark, by the light of a single, not particularly powerful head torch. We were certainly glad to make it back to camp that night!
Day 2 started with the mountain biking course. The most challenging aspect of the course was definitely the ‘zig-zag’, a steep and lengthy winding path up the side of a mountain. We happened to be blessed with bright sunshine at this point in the ride – just when some cool wind or rain drops would have been much appreciated!
Reaching the end of the ‘zig-zag’, we started to breathe a sigh of relief. Until the race marshal commented “the worst is yet to come” whilst pointing towards the peak of the mountain and confirming that we now had to make a direct ascent (which to me looked near enough vertical), with no path. We made it, but I’m not entirely sure how!
Starting the water-based stage of the challenge, our spirits were high and we felt like the end was in sight. We did the first 500 metres counting our strokes like professionals and singing with delight that we were nearly done. Then our arms started to ache, the energy ran low, and the lake started to feel more like an ocean. At this point a speedboat of ‘challenge paparazzi’ decided to circle us and take photos. I haven’t seen them, but hopefully we managed to make our grimaces look like smiles.
Finishing the 5km paddle, we were rewarded with a hot bath in the local Premier Inn which helped us start to feel human again. Then we enjoyed a proud moment as we were awarded our 2017 Snowdon Challenge medals. At the celebratory dinner on the final evening, we heard from the CEO of Youth Adventure Trust, as well as some of the children who are supported by this fantastic charity. This gave us real insight into the great work the Trust does and made all our efforts worthwhile. I’m even considering doing it again next year!