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Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer

Conquering the Yorkshire Three Peaks – my experience

by Emily Slater

Emily Slater, PR Manager at Brain Tumour Research, shares her experience of taking on the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge for the charity and meeting dedicated supporters along the way.

As a member of the Brain Tumour Research PR team, I’m constantly amazed by the efforts of our brilliant fundraisers, who take on all manner of physically and mentally demanding challenges in support of our vision of finding a cure for all types of brain tumours. While the idea of training to run a marathon or doing an abseil has never appealed, when I heard about the charity’s Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge, I knew it was something I wanted to take on. It had been on my bucket list for a while; I’m a keen walker but being a busy mum-of-two, I rarely have time to do long walks and living in relatively flat central Bedfordshire, have little experience of hill walking.

The inaugural Brain Tumour Research Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge was due to take place in June 2020. I signed up to take part with my husband Sven, my best friend Joni, her husband Tom and her brother, Alex. Joni and her family know all too well the devastation of this horrendous disease. In 2014, she and Alex lost their precious dad Charlie to a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Charlie’s diagnosis, just a few months before he died, came as a complete shock. He loved playing football and hiking in the Peak District and was the picture of good health. He left behind two adoring children and his loving wife, Sue.

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the event was postponed from June to August 2020 which, in theory, meant we had more time to train but in practise, we had all been contending with the pressures of lockdown. We had done as much training as we could but as we approached the start line, in the shadow of the impressive Ribblehead Viaduct, some of us felt less prepared to summit Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough than we would’ve liked. What’s more, it was a particularly miserable day in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the forecast told us the grim weather was only going to get worse.

We battled extreme conditions throughout; the rain came in sideways and was utterly relentless, turning to hail as we reached higher altitudes. By the end of our 13-hour challenge, our fingers and toes were numb, our clothes and boots were wet through and our bodies ached with exhaustion but we were relieved to finish and so proud of what we’d achieved.

Along the way, we chatted to other participants, all of us brought together by a common motivation to support this vital cause. I met Emma, a young woman from Sheffield who lost her sister to a brain tumour that was only diagnosed after she died. I walked alongside Helen, an Estonian ballet dancer living in Leeds, who knew several people affected by brain tumours. We bonded and shared our experiences as we put one foot in front of the other, focusing on the finish line when the going got tough.

Our challenge was to summit all three peaks and walk the 25-mile route in 12 hours. Although we finished outside of this window, we were delighted with our achievement, particularly considering the brutal conditions we had to contend with. Thanks to kind donations from family, friends and colleagues, we collectively raised more than £2,740, enough to fund 1.5 days of research at one of the charity’s Centres of Excellence. It was a fitting way of honouring the wonderful Charlie and of helping to prevent other families from being ripped apart by this terrible disease.

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