Two decades ago, GE Aviation Engineer Paul Essey and his work colleagues sat in a pub recovering from climbing three of the UK’s most challenging mountains in the national Three Peaks Challenge. When they decided, over a pint, that introducing a purely Wales based endurance event to raise money for charity, they knew it was a good call. But never in their wildest dreams could they have known that 20 years on, their idea would still be going strong, and 6000 generous people would have raised more than £1.6 million for Tŷ Hafan, the children’s hospice in Wales.
But that’s just what happened and now, event founder Paul is calling for hardy hikers to join Tŷ Hafan for the 20th anniversary of the original GE Aviation Wales Welsh 3Peaks Challenge. Teams are invited to join climbers from all over the world on Saturday 30th June to scale Snowdon, Cadair Idris and Pen y Fan – all in 15 hours. The money they raise will help Tŷ Hafan provide comfort and care to life-limited children and their families, both at the hospice and in the community.
“We decided to launch a “Welsh Three Peaks Challenge” just after our own team of GE employees competed in the National Three Peaks event, climbing Ben Nevis, Scarfell Pike and Snowdon”, explained Paul.
“We thought it would be a good idea to set our own challenge and raise funds for a local charity. We chose Tŷ Hafan as we’d heard that a children’s hospice was being built in Sully, not far from our home town and we felt that it was a worthy and worthwhile cause. It was phase 1 of the build process, and we hoped that by raising funds, then children and families would start benefiting from the hospice facilities and the care that they needed.
“So, we got in touch with Dominic Jenkins (one of founders of the hospice), to discuss the event and how we could help. And the rest is history”, Paul added.
Since that time, GE Aviation Wales has sponsored the Welsh3Peaks, marshalling the route and ensuring the safety of participants. As event organisers, Paul and his colleagues know that the challenge can be hard if the weather is really bad. But it’s all forgotten when the teams cross the finish line, still smiling and feeling good about what they’ve just achieved for themselves and the money they’ve raised for Tŷ Hafan.
Paul continued: “We would encourage teams to compete in the Welsh3Peaks because it is for such a worthy cause. Even though it can be a tough challenge, there is so much camaraderie between the teams and always plenty of encouragement to help them along their way. Feedback over the years from competing teams is that they always have great pride and satisfaction and team spirit after completing the event”.
Since the event was launched in 2008, 6000 participants have climbed a total of 57,280m, have walked a total of 407 miles and have raised more than £1.6 million for Tŷ Hafan. Teams have come from as far afield as Germany and France, and most participants have had no previous hiking experience.
“Each year more families are turning to us for care and support than ever before”, said Sali Thomas, Head of Events at Tŷ Hafan.
“Our target for the Welsh3Peaks this year is £90,000 which will pay for over a full week of Tŷ Hafan services. So by joining the adventure and taking part in the Welsh3Peaks, you are helping our families to make the most of the precious time they have left together”, she added.