Monday, 20 May 2024
Monday, 20 May 2024

Can you keep up with the Joneses? Join the Heroes Hike up Snowdon

THE first ‘Heroes Hike’ up Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), to raise money for military charity Help for Heroes, takes place on 18 May 2024.

It is the second of a new series of four hikes taking place across the country. The first takes on the Lincolnshire Wolds, on 6 April, with the other events taking place in the Yorkshire Dales (3 August) and on Dartmoor (14 September).

The four locations for 2024 have been picked because they offer some of the best hiking the UK has to offer, with each offering something different. Snowdon is often a ‘bucket-list’ destination, and this is the only mountain-based hike of the series.

One man who knows only too well the benefits of such a hike and also how the funds raised can make a difference in a veteran’s life is 53-year-old Chris Jones, from Wrexham.

Chris was a driver in the Royal Corp of Transport until he was involved in a life-changing road traffic accident. He was left with severe injuries, including a broken back and jaw, which left him immobile and in a coma for five months.

Just as he was coming to terms with life after his accident – including living with chronic pain and a medical discharge – he lost his hearing completely. Chris battled on for 18 years and, finally, in 2007, he underwent an operation to fit a cochlear implant. It had an immediate positive effect – but his problems weren’t over.

As the world went into lockdown in 2020, the impact of being home alone hit Chris hard. While many turned to video-calling, Chris could not hear the conversations or lip-read what people said.

He recalled:

“Communication was so difficult; I was in despair and isolated. There were days when I felt suicidal.”

But the support of Help for Heroes enabled him to overcome his fear of the prospect of groups of people and leaving home, and, in the summer of last year, he joined a team of veterans and staff from the Charity in hiking up Snowdon. It was a massive undertaking under the circumstances – and a step-change in his life. Or maybe 10 steps.

He explained:

“Everyone has been so compassionate, helpful, and understanding. I now receive regular visits from Help for Heroes staff who are helping me find new ways to feel part of things.

“When I was younger, I would climb Snowdon quite a bit. Last summer, the sport and fellowship team at the Charity helped me summit Snowdon once again.

“It was so tough, and very painful because of my chronic pain, but I had to do it. It took me six hours to get up there with the support of the team. Together we took it 10 steps at a time and I’m so pleased I achieved that climb one more time – it feels like a miracle.

“I can’t stress how brilliant the team have been to me. I’m looking forward to attending more events with the Charity, including, hopefully, May’s Heroes Hike, and have been growing my confidence using technology to communicate with people again.”

He also has a message for fellow veterans who may have been, like him, suffering in isolation, in silence. He said:

“I can’t stress enough how important being able to talk has been – talking is the best therapy. When my PTSD and anxiety went through the roof during lockdown, Help for Heroes wrapped its big arms around me like a life jacket and I started, at long last, to improve my life again, both physically and mentally.

“The charity has supported me to challenge myself to do things I never thought I’d be able to do again. Getting out in the open air and getting to the top of Snowdon again was just a massive boost to my physical and mental health. Such activities could make a huge change to your life, too.”

The Heroes Hikes routes are designed especially for Help for Heroes, in association with event provider Snowdonia-based RAW Adventures – so Snowdon hikes are its speciality.

The hike will take walkers up the lesser-known Rangers Path to the summit – 1,085m above sea level – and down via the Llanberis path. The hike is perfect if you want to challenge yourself and see parts of the mountain that you wouldn’t normally see without a guide.

There will be a ratio of one guide for every 10 hikers and the 18km trek is estimated to take between six and eight hours. Expert guides will be on hand to offer support every step of the way. Whether an experienced hiker or a novice, this is a challenge for everyone and an adventure that shouldn’t be missed.

Registration is open to anyone aged 12 and over. The registration fee of £49pp includes tea or coffee and a free headband on arrival, a glass of fizz at the finish line to celebrate your achievement, a hearty meal on completion, a kit list, and a training plan.

And the Help for Heroes’ Events Team will be on hand to support you in achieving your fundraising target of £200.

Across Wales, around 115,000 people have served in the military – almost five per cent of the population.

Help for Heroes champions the Armed Forces community and helps them live well after service. The charity helps veteran families to recover and get on with their lives. It has already supported more than 31,000 people and won’t stop until every veteran gets the support they deserve.

The charity supports veteran families, from any branch of the UK military – regulars or reserves – irrespective of length or place of service, and locally embedded civilians (and their families) who worked under the command of the UK Armed Forces.

To register for the Snowdon Heroes Hike, please visit: h4hweb.com/HeroesHikes.

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