No time to ‘Everest’ in charity challenge

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You have heard of plenty of people trying to climb Mount Everest before – but how about trying to slide down it?

For 10 fund-raisers on Saturday the odd task was not as strange as it sounded – as members of the Armed Forces used an 80m slide at Blackpool’s Sandcastle Waterpark to complete the unusual 
challenge.

The team from the British Army 208 Field Hospital Officers .Pictured are (back row) Andy Townsend, Helen MacKay, Kirsty Watson, Alberto Colacurcio and Kelda Hodges with (front row) Siobhan Stringer, Ralph Gill, Donna Howitt, Martin Ellison and Jayne Wright

The team from the British Army 208 Field Hospital Officers .Pictured are (back row) Andy Townsend, Helen MacKay, Kirsty Watson, Alberto Colacurcio and Kelda Hodges with (front row) Siobhan Stringer, Ralph Gill, Donna Howitt, Martin Ellison and Jayne Wright

In two hours the team, raising money for the forces’ mental health charity Combat Stress, completed more than 900 slides – sliding down the height of the world’s highest mountain around eight times, according to Capt Martin Ellison, of C Squadron 208 Field Hospital, based at Sir Matthew Fell House in Parkinson Way, Blackpool.

Capt Ellison, 49, said: “The idea was to slide down the equivalent height of Mount Everest.

“We managed to achieve it eight-fold. We had a two-hour window and to be honest we did not think we would make 10 slides let alone a few hundred – we managed to use our speed and agility and ended up completing 900 slides.”

The idea for the challenge came about after Maj Kirsty Watson, an army reservist medical officer and C Squadron team member, was invited to take part in the British Army Everest 2015 expedition in April.

The aim of the climb, apart from reaching the summit through the mountain’s North East Face, is to raise awareness for the veteran mental health charity Combat Stress.

The charity, formed in 1919 after the First World War, provides treatment to former members of the British Armed Forces suffering from a range of mental health conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

As part of the squadron’s support to Maj Watson’s expedition the team came up with the idea of “sliding down Everest”.

While the task may seem a great idea of fun for most, Capt Ellison admitted the challenge was a gruelling one as the team raced non-stop to meet their target.

He added: “I am still absolutely exhausted – even a few days on from the challenge.

“Every muscle in my body is aching. It was a case of going along and grabbing a drink as you passed.

“The Sandcastle staff were very, very helpful and accommodating and helped us with the unusual challenge.”

Maj Watson, who also took part in the slide, added: “The idea of the climb is to reach the summit and shout out that help is out there for those with PTSD and other mental health issues for military veterans.

“This event to raise awareness was just as important as the climb itself and was a fun way for the squadron to join in and raise a bit of funds for Combat Stress.”

Capt Ellison said donations for the event have still to be counted, but anyone wishing to donate to the charity should visit www.combatstress.org.uk.