A Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service worker will try and scale six of the highest mountains in the British Isles in just four days for The Fire Fighters Charity.
Craig Smith is taking on the 5+1 Peaks Challenge after his bid to climb Kilimanjaro in Tanzania was scuppered by the coronavirus pandemic.
The 46-year-old from Kettering, who is a facilities technician with the fire service, has brought together a team of seven who will take on the gruelling effort, which starts on 16 September and aims to raise £5,000 for the charity.
It will see them take on the highest peaks in each of the five countries of the British Isles. The team will both start and finish in Wales, beginning with Snowdon (1,085m) and ending four days later with Moel Siabod (872m). Between that they will sandwich in Scafell Pike in England (978m); Ben Nevis in Scotland (1,345m); Slieve Donard in Northern Ireland (850m) and Carrauntoohil in the Republic of Ireland (1,038m).
Craig, who is also volunteering to help out ambulance crews during the pandemic, said: ‘This is going to be a hard few days! If we complete the challenge, we will have covered a distance of 74km and climbed a total of 6,168m, which is higher than Kilimanjaro.
‘This challenge has never been done before in this way to match the height of Kilimanjaro, and my team is 100 per cent dedicated to training and we even have a teammate giving online fitness training. They are a great bunch of people all wanting to raise money for a very worthy cause.
‘I’ve been supporting The Fire Fighters Charity for a long time. From being in the fire service I have seen first-hand why this charity is needed for supporting both our colleagues and their families – whether it’s through physio rehabilitation for injured firefighters or counselling for mental health. They do not get any government funding and rely purely on donations through fundraising, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to give them something back.’
Also representing Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service on the team of seven is on-call firefighter Vince Frankham. The 51-year-old has been based at Kettering since 1997, and is particularly keen to take part given the help he has received in the past from The Fire Fighters Charity.
Vince said: ‘I was injured while out tackling a fire in 2013 and had to have a neck operation due to problems with my spinal cord. After the operation I had to fight back, and I attended a rehabilitation course that was held by The Fire Fighters Charity. It helped me on the way back to duty, and I just want to pay them back for the help they gave to me. I would be so grateful if people could donate anything they can.’
As if the challenge was not yet tough enough, Craig and Vince have said they will take on the final mountain in full firefighter gear – complete with breathing apparatus!
The challenge is being sponsored by Corby-based construction, landscaping and forestry business JKS UK Ltd, who are doing a prize draw later this year in order to raise cash towards the effort.
Darren Aaron, managing director of JKS UK Ltd, said: ‘Every year Craig does something for charity and we support him, but this year he has raised the bar, and so have we! We’re putting together a prize draw where one person will win more than £2,000 worth of prizes. I would urge people to donate to what is a really fantastic cause.’
To find out more and to donate, please visit www.5plus1peakschallenge.co.uk. If you include the words JKS UK Ltd on your donation, you will be entered into the prize draw for free.