Our 31 Days of Adventure campaign is in full swing and with over 20 people signing up in the last week to take on a Life List Challenge in 2018, we thought we’d speak to a few people who have decided to make their year memorable.
Steve Earl, 55 from Ashington is an avid walker and supporter of St Oswald’s. Walking miles each day, Steve’s job as a Porter at the RVI in Newcastle gives him plenty of training time during shifts. In 2016 Steve took part in the China Trek which saw 21 supporters of St Oswald’s trek along the Great Wall of China for roughly 6 hours a day over the space of 4 days, raising over £82,000.
We caught up with Steve to find out why he chooses to support St Oswald’s.
My wife Tara spent her last 6 weeks in St Oswald’s for rest bite care as she had been diagnosed with skin cancer. It was such a hard time and we didn’t know much about hospice care but Macmillan had referred us to use their services so we thought we’d give it a go.
The care Tara received was amazing, the Hospice is incredible, the staff, volunteers, therapists, everyone, it’s a sense of community. That’s why I raise money for St Oswald’s, it’s not just for her, it’s for everyone. Now that I’ve gone through it I can see when other people are going through the same. It’s hard, and I know it’s not the same but I can relate, the outside world has no idea what you’re going through.
I get a great sense of pride knowing I’m not letting my late wife down. It’s sad and although I’m happy with my partner now, Tara is still a huge part of my life, and thankfully St Oswald’s really helped me through a hugely difficult time.
When I decided to do the China Trek I was nervous at first, but my Slimming World group really pulled together and helped me out. I do a lot of fundraising through them; they help me arrange coffee mornings and nights out. I also hold a few raffles which can make £100 each time which is brilliant, it all really helps.
The Sahara Trek involves 4 days of walking roughly 15-20kms a day then finished off with a 2 day community project. The temperatures in the desert can reach up to 40 degrees during the day and plummet down to 0 degrees at night. With such a varying climate the trek is definitely a challenge, so we asked Steve how he prepared for such a unique opportunity.
I thought the China Trek would be easier than it was, I only did a few warm up walks so I’m already going to up my training this year. The temperatures got down to -11, it was so cold at night but during the day it was fine. It was such a surreal experience but the trek was just incredible, I’ve done something amazing and now I’ve got the hunger for more.
I know the Sahara Trek is going to be a lot harder, but I’ll get some cooling packs to keep me cool and I’ll do more training walks beforehand. So far I’ve set up a Just Giving page and I’m sharing it on my Facebook. When it comes to training I think if I know I can walk the distance I should be fine. I’ve set myself a challenge to walk 1000 miles before I go, it’s great because friends and family have said they will walk sections of my challenge with me, which is great motivation to complete my challenge.
My life has been one big adventure full of ups and downs, but St Oswald’s has always been there for me. I’ve got photo frames all over my house showing all the adventures I’ve been on with all the groups and new friends I’ve made along the way. I regularly go on St Oswald’s walks which happen roughly once a month, and I can’t stress how many amazing friends I’ve made along the way.
The Hospice is great, when it comes to big challenges they don’t pressure you for money, they help and support you along the journey. If St Oswald’s didn’t do these treks and the Life List challenges they would lose out on such a huge income stream. It doesn’t just pay for a holiday, it’s hard, it’s a challenge actually getting there never mind the trek itself but it’s worth it.
Hearing Steve’s stories and his passion for adventure motivates and excites us to get signed up for our own adventures. There’s always one thing stopping us… but why?
I think people have doubts when it comes to signing up for a new challenge, but the sense of achievement once you’ve completed it is incredible, especially when everyone has done it together. The opportunity to help support a better cause makes the challenge all the more worthwhile.
I know if I only had X amount of time left in the world, I’d want to be at St Oswald’s as I know the care I’d receive would be second to none.