Climbing for RoSPA with STEP UK

RoSPA would like to thank Arlena Kuenzel, co-chair of the Leicester division of STEPUK and medical student, for her guest blog this week. She and two fellow students decided to undertake some fundraising for RoSPA by taking part in the three peaks challenge.

Here is their story!

After STEPUK (the Society for Trauma, Emergency Medicine/Nursing and Pre-Hospital Care United Kingdom) advertised a three peaks challenge in aid of RoSPA, I decided to find out a bit more about the work that RoSPA undertakes.

It was with great interest that I learnt about their achievements within accident prevention and I was motivated to take up the challenge and help to raise money for the charity. Accident prevention is vitally important and, as a medical student, I have had the unfortunate experience of seeing traumatic injury from what could have been preventable events on too many occasions.

L-R: Arlena Kuenzel, Michael Coulton, Tom Mullarkey, Tim Williamson, John Ly

When I first signed up to the three peaks challenge, I did not anticipate quite how great the challenge would actually be though….

Meeting up with the rest of the team and realising that I was one of only two girls in the group made me think that I probably should have done a bit more training than I had done before setting out to walk the three peaks!

The first journey to Mount Snowdon was filled with excitement and we were all raring to get started. It also allowed us to get to know each other as a team a bit better.

Once we crossed the border to Wales and found our campsite, we all worked together to get the tents up as quickly as possible. Not wanting to make too much work for ourselves, we also made use of the minibus as a makeshift tent… a less than comfortable night!

Early next morning, we got going on the first of the three peaks. We made good pace but had enough time to appreciate the beauty of the sunrise. While we could all have done with a nice sit down and a cup of tea after our initial burst of enthusiasm, we found the café on Mount Snowdon had been closed for refurbishment. Luckily we had brought plenty of supplies with us so made frequent stops to refuel on food and water.

After getting to the top and back down again we decided to get going to Scafell Pike straight away so as not to lose any time, as the clock was ticking on our challenge.

Once we got there, it soon became apparent that I had been using all sorts of muscles that I had forgotten I had! Needless to say, getting going again was a bit of a struggle! With time limited, we had to push on though.

We seemed to be walking for an age but looking back at our path and still being able to make out where we had parked our minibus, made me realise just how much further we still had to go. As we were collecting money for RoSPA along the way, it meant that we were able to keep our spirits high by talking with the public about STEPUK, RoSPA and our fundraising efforts. The last part of Scafell Pike was a scramble to the top along loose rocks – I think we were all more than a little relieved once we reached the summit! Now we just had to get back down…

A fitting reward!

We did eventually make it back to the minibus and got going to our next destination – northbound to Scotland. Here we went in search of some hot food. As it was late in the evening, finding somewhere was far trickier than we had anticipated and it provided us with a whole new challenge! After several failed leads, and nearly giving in to just grabbing some snacks from the service station, we found a take-away in one of the Scottish towns. Still wearing our walking gear and looking somewhat worse for wear certainly made us stand out from the other customers there!

Having satisfied our hunger we thought it would be a nice quick drive up to the place we planned to camp near Ben Nevis. All that changed when we were faced by flashing blue lights and found out there was a road block. A quick chat with the police officer dashed any hopes of using that road for a good few hours.

Being tired from the day’s walking, we nearly camped at the roadside then and there but decided it would be best to persevere. All credit to our driver who found a detour and got us to Ben Nevis in the early hours of the night. There were a few more people making use of the minibus to sleep in that night but we pulled together to put up tents for everyone who was unable to fit into the bus.

Things looked brighter in the morning and we set off for our last peak. The brightness of the morning did not last long though and we came across the worst of the weather we had encountered so far on our challenge… and it was getting worse the higher up the mountain we went. A hailstorm welcomed us as we reached the top. Luckily we were so elated that we had made it that the weather did not dampen our spirits.

Michael Coulton, Tom Mullarkey, RoSPA’s chief exec, and Arlena Kuenzelat the RoSPA Awards

After brief celebrations at the summit with the rest of the team and also other hikers, we decided it would be best to make a speedy descent to avoid staying cold and wet for too long. A few of us decided to use the last of our energy and run down. This initially seemed like a good idea to me but soon became more difficult when my shoes decided that they had had enough from all this walking and the sole started hanging off. We did make it to the pub at the bottom where we had a nice warm drink and some food and then all that was left was the long drive back to Leicester.

All in all, it was a weekend full of ups and downs but I came away with a great sense of achievement and made good friends along the way!

A few months later we were approached by RoSPA to present at the annual Occupational Health and Safety Awards. It was an honour to work with the team at RoSPA and find out more about the good work that our fundraising has contributed to. Despite the nerves that come with talking in front of such a large audience, it was an incredible experience to be part of an event that recognised so many people’s dedication to saving lives.

By Arlena Kuenzel

More photographs are available on RoSPA’s flickr account.

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