Yorkshire Three Peaks hikers go the distance for Mersey Cares!

9 May 2024

The team of 24 raised an incredible £4,445 to support people and services

On an overcast Sunday in May, a team of gallant challengers gathered in a field close to the Yorkshire village of Horton in Ribblesdale to embark upon a formidable test of endurance for Mersey Cares; the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge.

This was our charity's biggest challenge to date with 24 people taking part to support the funding of innovative projects and developments to tackle health inequalities, challenge stigma, and enable our specialist mental health and community services to do more.

The renowned challenge involves hiking three of the highest peaks in Yorkshire within a single day.– a feat that requires a certain level of physical and mental preparation – as well as a decent pair of walking boots!

The circular route which takes hikers across 24.5 miles of the breathtaking Yorkshire Dales National Park also involves climbing Pen-y-ghent (694 meters above sea level), Whernside (Yorkshire’s highest peak at 736 meters), and Ingleborough (723 meters), the final fell, before the heading down towards the finish line and the promise of a well-earned rest.

Scenic Views of the Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge

Among the participants were dedicated Mersey Care staff members from various teams across the Trust. These included the Health Visiting Team at Granby Children’s Centre, Merseyside Talking Therapies, and Knowsley Children in Care, along with staff from IV Therapies, St. Helen’s CYPMHS (Child and Youth Mental Health Services), Facilities Management, Business Intelligence, and the Psychotherapy and PD (Personality Disorder) Hub. Holly Seeger, an independent reviewing officer closely associated with the Knowsley CLA (Children Looked After) team, also joined the fundraiser, along with Dan Pendleton and Lauren Tomlinson who walked alongside her friend from IV Therapies.

Before, during and after the event, the team had brilliant support from Overlimits, a Leeds-based outdoor events and leadership development company. The Overlimits crew accompanied our Mersey Cares heroes from start to finish of the route, guiding them and offering practical advice, as well as boosting morale when the blisters began to rub and the finish line felt way out of reach. The team had also provided invaluable pre-trek support and training walks before the big day to help prepare walkers for their fundraiser.

Phil Lee who led the team said: “They were a great group of people and the team did incredibly well. The challenge is not easy at all – it’s a gruelling 24.5 miles and ascends a staggering 7000 feet. Despite some difficult moments, their spirit and determination remained unshakeable and led them to raise a brilliant amount for a great cause. We were delighted to award medals to those who finished and want to extend our congratulations to everyone who took part.”

An early start in the Yorkshire Dales

The team set off not long after their arrival in the Dales following a cup of tea and their 7.15am safety briefing. The challenge would push them to their limits, testing both their mental and physical stamina. It would also see bonds with colleagues strengthened, and new friendships forged -  all because of a collective desire to raise vital funds to better the lives of other people. 

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Tales from the Peaks...

Following the event we caught up with some of our incredible fundraisers to learn more about the challenge, the many highs and lows – and why they wanted to raise money for our charity. 

Beth Howard walked the distance alongside her IV Therapies colleague, Shirley Smith, and her friend Lauren, who works outside of the Trust. Speaking about why she wanted to sign up for the challenge she said:

“I wanted to do it because I’ve always wanted to complete a challenge for charity. I knew it was going to be hard but nowhere near as hard as it was! I had been for walks and gym classes prior to the big day, but had nowhere near as much training as Shirley, who was going for 20-mile hikes (she is amazing!)."

The small group completed the first peak, and shortly after were faced with the first seeds of doubt setting in. Could they actually finish the challenge? Would it be too far and too difficult? Thankfully, a break at the 10-mile point really helped to focus the mind, and gave them the motivation boost they needed to carry on.

“At this point we joined up with Jan, Marie, Ross and Gill and our amazing guide Ian,” Beth said. “Throughout the second peak we spent the time chatting and getting to know each other and kept each other’s spirits up having a laugh!

"By the time we got to the third peak it was a massive struggle, 20 minutes of consistently steep stairs. I had a blood sugar drop and stumbled over. The guide was amazing and motivational and kept us going. We really couldn’t have done it without each other."

“Although it was so mentally challenging and we were both physically and mentally sore the next day, we will never forget the day and the amazing experience we had with such great company!”

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Clare McIntyre, part of the Granby Health Visiting Team took on the challenge as a team of five, In addition to the challenge itself, the experience for her was about team building and bonding with other people from across the Trust in the build up to the event.

“I met people from other teams that I would never meet usually, which has been amazing," she said.

“I have never done anything like this before. I wanted to do this to have fun, get fitter and support funding for community and mental health services, and also to promote the health visiting service.”

Speaking after the challenge Clare revealed what kept her going when she was feeling the strain.

“It was a long day and physically and mentally challenging, but I loved meeting other people doing similar – and when I felt like I was struggling, it was knowing that people had sponsored me to do this that motivated me to keep me going. The Overlimits group were great too – very supportive and motivating as well as honest.”

"Euphoric is how I felt, the tired legs and sore feet are worth that sense of pride and achievement."

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Part of the Children in Care team, Michael Allcock is no stranger to taking part in Mersey Cares challenges, having previously taken part in the BTR Liverpool Mersey Tunnel 10k and the Liverpool Santa Dash to support children and young people.

“Completing the Yorkshire 3 Peaks was such an amazing achievement by everyone. The whole day was amazing and knowing the walk was to raise donations for such a good cause made the challenge even better. Really proud of everyone who took part, donated and shared good luck messages. I would like to thank Mersey Cares and Overlimits for organising and supporting - it was greatly appreciated," he said. 

“As much as it was an amazing experience the best part of the day was definitely a chippy and a pint afterwards though!

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Team Lead, Kayleigh Griffin joined other Talking Therapies colleagues for the challenge including Jennifer Jones (Lead Clinical Talking Therapies Halton & Knowsley), Karen Meldrum (Team Lead Talking Therapies Liverpool), and Rachel Munn (Team Manager Talking Therapies Liverpool), as well as Harriet Clarke, Operational Manager from St Helen's CYPMHS.

“We completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks and had a great day!, she said. "The event was really well organised and the staff working on the event were really friendly and knowledgeable. One of our highlights was finishing in 11 hours, which was much quicker than we expected, whilst another highlight was having a laugh all day, motivating each other to carry on.”

"Climbing a very steep third peak with heavy legs! Jelly babies were needed for an extra boost! Lol."

Talking Therapies Group Shot.pngMarie Richardson, a mental health practitioner at the Trusts PD Hub, was delighted to have raised close to £400 to support Mersey Care and its service users, patients and staff. For her, the trek was a huge personal challenge which she was thrilled to have completed.

“After summiting the third peak it was difficult to keep motivated and the descent and then the walk back to the meeting point was long and painful," she told us. "This was definitely  the hardest part of it for me.”

“Getting a medal at the end was a real highlight and I admit that I got quite emotional and tears were shed! The team of mountain leaders were so supportive and gave a real boost when needed. I still can’t believe I did it to be honest. It was a great experience. It felt liked I’d achieved something.”

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Thank you to all who took part and raised funds for our charity. 

Huge congratulations and thanks to our valiant 'Mersey Cares Three Peakers' who raised an incredible amount for our charity - as well as the 272 donors (and counting!) who gave generously to support them. Funds raised will help us to do so much across our communities, bringing life to new projects and supporting the NHS to go further.

Nicola Broxton, who attended the event alongside Faye Williams on behalf of the charity was there to greet the team as they crossed the finish line and present them with medals. 

"Well done to everyone who took part in our Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge. It was great to be able to meet with some of you at the finish line and hear about how it went - and how you were planning on celebrating afterwards! Phil and his Overlimits team were amazing; it was all so well organised and everyone was so knowledgeable and just who you would want by your side throughout a challenge like this. Thanks so much to everyone for a great event!"

Yorkshire Three Peaks Scenery with Smiling Faces