A grandmother and her grandson helped raise £91,000 for a hospice by walking the Great Wall of China – and trebling the original target.
Sue Last and George, 14, joined other fundraisers for the gruelling five-day trek across the longest structure made by humans in aid of the St Kentigern Hospice in St Asaph.
Originally, the 19 walkers had set their sights on raising £30,000 to help towards the running costs of the hospice. However, a final count has revealed a grand total of more than three times this amount, boosted by a £25,000 donation from grant providers the Donald Forrester Trust.
It’s a huge achievement for the team which comprised fundraisers of all ages and fitness levels.
There were two other family units who took part in the trek, a mother and son, Marjie Clark and her son Roger Wadon, and also father and daughter Tim Harper and his daughter, Toria
Sue described the trek as one of the most memorable experiences of her life – as well as one of the toughest.
The 69-year-old, who is a chaplain and a board member at the hospice, said: “I walk a lot at home and second day was the most challenging day I’ve ever had. It took us nine hours and we climbed up and down 27 watch towers during that time.
“It was very uneven and it was very challenging. It was also 33C and high humidity so it was a big day.
“Apart from that, it was great. Those hard days were the best days because you were out in the wilds, not the tourist areas.
“The scenery was stunning and expansive. You could see the wall trailing on for ever and ever, like a snake across the mountains. It was so expansive. We took lots of pictures, cameras clicked all the time.”
The total distance travelled was around 33km across steep and uneven terrain over the course of the five days. The team initially flew out to Beijing for the start of the journey at Huangyaguan and stopped at Badaling along the way to rebuild a section of the Great Wall, where they were able to leave a memento in memory of a loved-one, embedded in the rock.
During the trek, the team stayed in local lodges where they were able to enjoy an authentic insight into Chinese culture before completing their journey at Juyongguan.
Sue, a-mum-of-three and grandmother-of-seven, said it had been a great opportunity to spend quality time with her grandson – although being the youngest on the trip he had the energy to lead from the front.
“George was like a puppy, he was racing ahead,” she said.
“He was always at the top of the watch towers shouting ‘come on grandma’. He loved every minute of it.
“We spent a good time together and he really helped people when they needed it. He was the youngest walker by far.
“I walk regularly but it was very hot. There was very little shelter or shade, you were pretty exposed.”
St Kentigern Hospice is an eight-bed in patient hospice with day care facilities and provides unparalleled care for those with life-threatening and terminal illness.
Around 80 per cent of its income is generated from the generous donations of the public.
Sue, who has a background in nursing and used to work as a Commissioning Manager for the Liverpool Health Authority, commissioning palliative care, described the care delivered by the hospice as “second to none”.
“It’s a place where people can be assured their loved ones are going to get the best care possible – it’s second to none,” she said.
“£91,000 was a fantastic amount to raise. We were hoping to make it to £30,000 but to treble it was fantastic.
“Everybody did their fundraising in their own way. People were incredibly generous. George held an amazing event on the Wirral where he lives which raised £1,500 and included Chinese food and a big raffle.
“We were very lucky to receive £25,000 from the Donald Forrester Trust which has supported the hospice for a long time.”
Trefor Jones, chairman of the hospice, said: “It’s very difficult to be generous enough to the people who made this sterling effort of fundraising for us – we are very pleased.
“We think they thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s clear they built up a terrific camaraderie among themselves. They had a very good time and we had a big benefit from it.
“They raised all the money themselves, including the cost of the trip – it’s a significant contribution to our annual costs.”