Freedom Trail Challenge has now raised over £74,000
Huge sum raised for Staffordshire’s ‘Dougie Mac’ Hospice
The sum raised for the Douglas Macmillan Hospice by the Freedom Trail Challenge, whose participants included TR Fastenings Business Development Manager Sean Cushen, has now soared past the £40,000 target to reach the magnificent total of £64,680. This means the final amount donated to the hospice, which will include a Gift Aid claim for about £6,100, is likely to top £74,000.
Suzi Smith, the hospice’s Head of Corporate Fundraising and Events, said: “This is fantastic news! The team have put a lot of hard work and dedication into this challenge and it’s great to see those efforts so well rewarded. The hospice depends on charitable donations to fund its work and a sum as significant as this one is a tremendous help.”
The ‘Dougie Mac,’ as the hospice is affectionately known, offers specialised care for patients over the age of 16 who are suffering from a life-limiting illness when a cure is no longer possible. From its base in Stoke-on-Trent, North Staffordshire, the hospice provides support and services to around 3000 people and their families every year.
To help fund this good work, TR Fastenings’ Sean Cushen joined a team assembled by KMF Precision Sheet Metal last autumn to tackle the Freedom Trail Challenge across the Pyrenees Mountains from South West France to Spain. Climbing above the snowline to an altitude of 2,522m (8,274 ft.) before winding down the other side of the mountains, the 45-mile, five-day Trail can punish trekkers with extreme gradients, thin air, and challenging weather conditions including rain, snow, and strong winds.
Sean comments: “This was an incredible experience to take part in and something I’ll always be proud of. It’s brilliant that we’ve been able to raise so much money for such a worthy cause and makes all the hardships of the challenge totally worthwhile.”
TR Fastening's Sean Cushen Reaches New Heights in Freedom Trail Challenge
Pyrenees trek raises over £68,000 for Staffordshire hospice
Sean Cushen, Business Development Manager of TR Fastenings’ Branded Products range, was part of an 18-strong team which battled adverse weather conditions to trek the Freedom Trail in the Pyrenees Mountains in September this year. The team has so far raised £68,625 for the Douglas Macmillan Hospice in North Staffordshire.
The ‘Dougie Mac,’ as the hospice is affectionately known, offers specialised care for patients over the age of 16 who are suffering from a life-limiting illness when a cure is no longer possible. The hospice, which is dependent on charitable donations, provides support and services to around 3000 people and their families each year.
The Freedom Trail, also known as the Chemin de la Liberté, ascends from St Girons in France to an altitude of 2,522m (8,274 ft.) above the snowline, before descending to the grassy slopes overlooking the village of Esterri de Aneu in Spain. Winding up and down the mountains for a distance of 45 miles, the Trail typically takes five days to complete and punishes trekkers with extreme gradients, thin air and challenging weather conditions including strong winds, snow and rain.
Sean’s team, assembled by KMF Precision Sheet Metal, saw fifteen of its members successfully reach the end of the Trail but the rocky terrain was so demanding and the weather conditions so hostile that three members were forced to withdraw before completing the challenge.
The team set out with the aim of raising at least £40,000 for the hospice but donations have now passed that target by almost £30,000 to reach almost £70,000 with the total expected to rise further in the coming weeks. Sean’s individual fundraising total currently stands at £1,333, with further online donations welcomed on the team’s fundraising page.
Sean said: “The whole experience, trekking with 17kg backpacks over tough terrain and in extreme weather, was more challenging than any of us expected. One of the most important training sessions I did beforehand included a visit to the Dougie Mac Hospice to see for myself the fantastic work it does on site and within the local community. We are proud to be associated with the hospice and are thrilled we’ve managed to raise such a staggering amount of money for them.”
Watch the video of the team here and read the full story of Sean's journey below.
TR Treks the Freedom Trail in the Pyrenees Mountains
Raising much-needed funds for hospice services
Sean Cushen, Business Development Manager of TR Fastenings’ Branded Products range, is striding out this September as part of a team of 18 who will be undertaking the famous Freedom Trail Challenge across the Pyrenees Mountains from South West France into Spain in order to raise £40,000 for the Douglas Macmillan Hospice in North Staffordshire.
TR Fastenings is delighted to be supporting Sean, who will be accompanied, amongst others, by Terry Stanway, Purchasing and Facilities Director at KMF (Precision Sheet Metal) Ltd and Suzi Smith, Corporate Fundraising and Events Head for Douglas Macmillan Hospice.
This beautiful and demanding trek in the Pyrenees follows the Freedom Trail, or the Chemin de la Liberté, passing through spectacular scenery of rocky ridges, beech forest and mountain lakes. Stretching 45 miles, the trail reaches 2,522m before it descends into Spain.
Sean commented, “TR Fastenings Ltd and KMF Precision Sheet Metal have enjoyed a long standing business relationship spanning some 28 years. Terry (Stanway) originally sent me an email with information on the charitable event looking for sponsorship; I nearly missed the sentence that said ‘or participation’! Having read through the challenge brief and the details on the great cause we are raising money for, I just had to put my name forward to support the fantastic work the Douglas Macmillan Hospice does. Thankfully, my family and TR Fastenings are generously backing me in my challenge.”
Suzi Smith, Head of Corporate Fundraising and Events at Douglas Macmillan Hospice, commented, “The Freedom Trail is going to be an incredible journey, and, from training walks so far, Sean, the team and I are definitely going to experience a challenging few days. There is a lot of hard work and dedication that goes in to fundraising and preparing for these sort of challenges, so we'd like to thank Sean for agreeing to join the team.
“When someone hears the devastating news that they have a terminal illness, life as they know changes forever. It is thanks to fundraisers like Sean that we are able to provide care and support free of charge to people when they need us most, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."
Training is well underway and the trek takes place from 12th-19th September.
Donations are welcome and can be made here
The trail challenge has begun! Keep up to date with the teams progress here:
Day 5 - Saturday 17th September
I've received messages from a few members of the team to let us know they have finished their incredible trek safe and sound.
The team have worked so hard, facing hostile environments - rock climbing, uneven terrain miles long, trips and falls, walking through snow.. but they have done it!
Thank you for all your ongoing support, I'm sure you will be as proud of the team as I am and so pleased to welcome them back on Monday evening.
Day 4 - Friday 16th September
Unfortunately, the team haven’t been able to get in touch with us directly due to signal however, one of team members better half has been able to get in touch with the refuge and has confirmed that the team have reached them.
We know that today was an incredibly difficult day for the team as they headed into serious mountain terrain. The team have climbed up a steep descend towards the snow line, which is described as “although spectacular, it’s not a hospitable landscape”, with craggy peaks and towering cliffs.
When we last spoke to the team yesterday, they informed us that 100km winds were due as well as a heavy down pour so it really will have been hostile.
Tomorrow, they start the final trek to Port de Perosa! With heavy snow forecast, the team may have to make a de-tour which could mean a longer (but safer) walk – hopefully this doesn’t happen and they can power through. They do have the thought of delicious tapas at the end to keep them going, I’m sure after all the dehydrated food and sweets that will be a real treat for them!
Day 3 - Thursday 15th September
It’s the end of day two of the trek and the team seem to be doing quite well, chirpy if anything!
I’ve heard they had a good evening yesterday, being treated to good food at the site they were staying in which has really helped them get a decent night’s sleep, keeping them energised for today.
We received a call this afternoon just as the team were taking a break for lunch (consisting of nuts and sweets) and the weather had taken a turn for the better today. They’ve had a chance to dry off in the sunshine which has helped them along on their steep incline up the Col de le Core (1395m). However, the weather is due to change with heavy rain returning this evening so the team were trying to get to the camp site a little earlier to set up their tents before down poor.
Alongside this rain, they are expecting 100km winds tomorrow which will make their day very challenging as they head into serious mountain terrain in the morning. Hopefully they will be able to call us again however, signal is obviously hit and miss. They are a strong team and after working with over the last few months, I’m sure they will keep each other going as it gets even more tough!
Day 2 - Wednesday 14th September
We have received a call from the team and all is well after the first day!
They have travelled from St. Girons to Aunac successfully. It sounds like the team are in good spirits, however, it has been a struggle. The team have walked through heavy rain all day, making the ground quite tricky to walk on. But they did it!
The support shown has been wonderful and the team are now up to £61,770.54! An extra £958 in a day is amazing.
Today was the longest stretch of walk on uneven and wet ground, but tomorrow they head for Subera Hut. On the way they will have quite a strenuous ascent to around 1395m.
Day 1 - Tuesday 13th September
"Last night and tonight we are staying at the same place, giving us chance to acclimatise today and explore the historic town of Saint Girons and the Freedom trail history. The team are all in good spirits."
"This afternoon we found the museum for the freedom trail and were very humbled to meet a 93 year old French Commando on duty. Although there was a language barrier, he certainly understood our respect for him. Very moving visit." - Sean Cushen
Official team update:
“Good morning from the Pyrenees...
So far so good here.
We've met two groups so far, one is an army based group. Their team leader is from Alsager and has actually experienced the work of the hospice... Small world! He's done the trail twice before and has reiterated how difficult the challenge ahead is. The weather is very unpredictable and can turn at any point... Especially this time of year.
We met another group this morning who had to turn back after day two after the weather turned on them, unfortunately they needed to be rescued by a local guide so not an easy road ahead at all.
Everyone has been advised to strip the kit right back so we're all trying to get to maximum 12kg plus water which is quite a few kilograms less than many of us had planned.
The team is in good spirits and looking forward to getting going tomorrow at around 7am our time.”
Training Update 31.08.16
"Found a big hill on holiday and just had to bag it for the Freedom Trail Challenge!'
Workout: Cross Country
Distance: 7.80 mi
Training Update 19.08.16 - 20.08.16
"I carried out a very soggy and blustery solo hike around the Pennine moors with overnight camping Friday 19th August to Saturday 20th August. Carrying a 16kg rucksack made this one the most challenging so far. I finally encountered some lovely blisters and chafing around the ankles, but it'll be gone before the event! Thanks to all my supporters, you're making a difference!"
Both of seans routes are availble to see here:
Training Update 06.08.16
"This one was a hike with the DMH Freedom Trail team, to the summit of Snowdon at just over 1000 metres, following the Watkin path. We were fully loaded with 15kg in the rucksack, and made it safely up and down despite thick cloud at about 700 metres and didn't get any blisters! My phone battery died at the summit, so what you can see in the link below is only half the story!"
Workout: Cross Country
Distance: 5.15 mi (x2)
Duration: 3:35:47 up + 2:35 down
Click here if you’d like to make a donation, and thank you to all my current sponsors for your continued support!
Training Update 22.07.16
"This one was a solo hike as a test for my ankle which was recovering from an avulsion fracture and everything went fine! I carried 12kg in the rucksack and got about halfway up Scafell Pike before turning back before I lost the light, running into thick cloud at about 300 metres."
Workout: Cross Country
Distance: 2.33 mi
The Freedom Trail in Social Media
The team have received some great support on social media from Sir Ranulph Fiennes and BBC Breakfast!
Training Update 26.06.16
"We did 12.8 miles with 15kg backpacks in 5hrs 23mins. A few of us agreed this was the toughest one to date with lots of those hill things in the way! Sore legs, feet and shoulders, but still no blisters! Thanks for everyone's support so far!'
Training Update 18.06.16
"I couldn't be with the team for training this weekend, so I did a local solo hike of my own this morning. 12 miles in 3hrs 52mins, so not a bad effort! Felt like I'd borrowed legs and lungs from a younger bloke! See my full hike here."
Training Update 21.05.16
"Second training walk for me in Eyam, Derbyshire - partly wet and blustery with 15 of us completing 9 miles with heavy rucksacks in 3hrs 40 mins."
Training Update 08.05.16
"First training walk for me walking from Edale to Kinder Scout - warm and sunny resulting in a face looking like a traffic light! 12 of us completed 10 miles with heavy rucksacks in just under 4 hours.'
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