GWP Employees take on the challenge for the charity Sense
Four members of the GWP Group undertook a daunting challenge – the 2013 Ridgewalk!
Covering 52 miles in just 24 hours, the team – dubbed the “GWP Striders” – aimed to raise a fantastic £1,750 for the charity Sense.
Despite battling with torrential rain, blisters, tiredness and much else besides, the team completed the 52 mile Ridgewalk challenge in an astounding 23 hours and 5 minutes. Not only achieving an amazing feat, they also raised a great sum of money for the charity Sense.
The GWP Striders team consisted of four members. All friends and colleagues at the GWP Group offices in Cricklade, Wiltshire, the camaraderie and support of each other and the rest of the GWP team was a key factor in spurring them on during the Ridgewalk 2013 challenge.
Matthew and Jenny Green, husband and wife, had been looking to take part a challenge together for some time. Alongside them was James Pedley, the youngest member of the team, and the foursome was completed by GWP Conductive director Ian Cook.
Matthew, IT Director at GWP Group, commented;
I definitely wouldn’t put myself in the fit category and as such the challenge will provide the added benefit of helping me to lose weight whilst also allowing myself and Jenny to spend some quality time together. Besides all this, we will get to enjoy some incredibly scenic countryside walks.
Ian Cook, Director of GWPs’ Conductive division, added;
The main reason that I’m taking on this challenge is to raise money for this most deserving of charities. I’m also looking forward to being part of a great team (and making sure Matt finishes!)
Training for the Challenge
Having walked the the final stretch of the challenge in training for the event, the group were under no illusions on the challenge that they face. However, the team were confident that they would complete the 52 miles within the 24 hour time-frame.
Averaging 3 miles per hour during their last training walk, the group knew they would comfortably complete the challenge if the pace could be maintained over the 24 hours. They also experienced the final stretch of the challenge – a punishing 4 mile climb to test tired legs – as preparation for the event.
The team also undertook an overnight walk to give them an idea of the challenges they faced, including a drop in temperature and limited visibility.
The going was hard but it is reassuring to know that our pace is good and fitness level is definitely improving.
The Ridgewalk 2013 Challenge
Now in its’ fourth year, the Ridgewalk has raised over £500,000 for the Sense charity. Winding its way through the stunning Oxfordshire landscape, the 2013 Ridgewalk challenge follows the oldest road in Britain!
The Ridgeway is a well known and much loved national trail that is both steeped in history and offers exceptionally scenic views. However, undertaking 52 miles of the route in under 24 hours provides a stern test – both mentally as well as physically – regardless of a teams’ fitness and experience.
Starting at the base camp in Watlington, the Platinum Ridgewalk, which the GWP Striders took part in, started at midday on Saturday 22nd June, and finished 24 hours later (with the teams trekking through the night).
The big finish was at Barbury Castle, where there is usually a large crowd of friends and family cheering the team across the line!
Starting at midday on Saturday 22nd June, the team initially walked for a 16 mile stretch in sunshine and showers until getting to the first checkpoint. This was then followed by a further 10 miles to the halfway stage, by which time it was dark, cold and the fatigue was beginning to set in.
The early morning part of the challenge also saw torrential rain, meaning that as well as the aches and pains creeping in, the team were also drenched. Probably the most demoralising point of the challenge.
Matthew said of the challenge;
Having walked half of the route the enormity of the challenge starts to dawn on you. The conditions were far worse than any of the training sessions we undertook, and morale certainly dipped on quite a few occasions. The constant support from all the team was definitely the determining factor spurring us on to the next check points.
Completing the Challenge
However, despite all of this, the team found reserves of strength and endurance, eventually making it to the finish line at just after 11.00am on Sunday morning.
Greeted by numerous friends and family at the finish line, the sense of achievement was palpable.
To put the achievement into perspective, the GWP Striders managed to complete 2 marathons over undulating terrain in typically British conditions (i.e. rain). In fact, of the teams that entered, 2 could not complete the challenge, whilst another 3 had at least one member of their team drop out.
James Pedley, Operations Manager at GWP Packaging said;
The last 7 miles were definitely the hardest, we really had to dig in to the reserves to pull us through. Rounding the last corner and seeing our family and friends waiting and cheering was truly a wonderful sight and something I am sure we won’t forget for a very long time.
Raising Money for Sense
Of course, the challenge was not undertaken for fun (a word that very few to have completed the challenge would use when describing it), and the GWP Striders raised a fantastic £1,388 for the charity Sense.
With further offline donations still to be factored in, the total is nearer to £1,500 – just short of the £1750 target set before the challenge.
More About Sense Charity
The Sense charity supports both children and adults nationwide who are deafblind. This refers to a combination of hearing and sight impairments that can lead to difficulties in a number of other areas, including mobility, communication and access to information.
The charity provides their services across the UK, utilising specially trained staff and a large number of dedicated volunteers who, between them, offer a high quality and flexible range of services.
Offering these services, which are tailored to the individuals wishes and enabling them to be as independent as possible, they are able to help multi and single-sensory impaired people.
Working with a broad spectrum of age groups, from children to adolescents and older people with progressive sight and hearing loss, Sense are also able to provide housing, educational and leisure opportunities. This is as well as offering support to all people in the congenital and acquired deafblind communities, even those that do not receive direct support from the charity.
A really worthy cause helped to keep the team focused on completing the Ridgewalk 2013, knowing that the sponsorship raised was going to benefit young and old alike.
It’s impossible to imagine how difficult and frustrating life must be for those who have lost or never have had these senses and the GWP Striders all commented that knowing the money raised was going to help equip sufferers to cope with the problem, made the challenge worthwhile.
Find out more...
For further information on the Sense charity, please click here.