This isn’t your typical story about climbing Everest. I had an unassuming and fairly ordinary beginning brought up in Kelsall, near Chester, but like many others had an Everest to climb before even reaching base camp.
Suffering a mild form of epilepsy at nine years old shattered my confidence and self-esteem with panic attacks and anxiety. Relentless bullying throughout school and a lifelong stammer in my speech left me in a ‘victim’ mindset. A fateful encounter with paragliding on holiday aged thirteen unearthed a passion for the outdoors – a way to prove myself wrong, and choose my challenges instead. I began to question my self-limiting beliefs through outdoor challenges, and learning that we don’t always choose the challenges we face – but we can choose how we respond.
My first walk in the Lake District in 2010 inspired the question ‘Where is Mount Everest?’
The question captivated me and climbing to the summit of the worlds’ highest seemed the ultimate achievement, going on to climb Mont Blanc in 2012 and heading to the Himalayas for the first time in 2013 to climb Baruntse (7,129m). Fundraising for good causes in the process has always been important to me and led to the honour of being a London 2012 Olympic Torchbearer through Chester.
I’ve always had the support and belief of my parents, albeit were never going to sign a cheque for the Everest expedition, and I was going to have to find a way or make one. Since leaving school I have funded my expeditions through corporate sponsorship.
My first attempt to climb Everest in 2014 ended in disaster with an avalanche which tragically killed sixteen people and cancelled the expedition. In 2015 I returned when our team were trapped on the mountain with my team as a huge earthquake struck Nepal and devastated the country, whilst taking the lives of three team-mates at base camp.
This life-affirming experience left me asking: “had I been in that tent at base camp, what would I have left behind?”
I began fundraising for Nepal by cycling the height of Everest in one day and organising Walk4Nepal on the anniversary of the earthquake, which has raised over £40,000 to date for PHASE Worldwide to support the earthquake victims. Adventures and endurance challenges closer to home have since provided the opportunity to make the biggest difference I can.
Having suffered with depression, anxiety and bulimia as an endurance athlete I also share my experiences to help others, especially men, talk openly about their struggles. Sometimes we can’t always see the top of the mountain, but taking the small steps can take us further than we might imagine.
Everest was just one step on the journey. Nowadays I’m fortunate to share my journey and inspire other people to achieve theirs.
We all have our challenges – do they have you?
I’m indebted to my sponsors who make this journey possible.
I am proud to be the first-ever brand ambassador for The Westgrove Group, a bespoke security and facilities management firm, based in Warrington, Cheshire.
The Westgrove Group is an award-winning national provider of bespoke dual service security solutions, specialising in high profile corporate offices, commercial premises, shopping centres and football stadia, and my role involves inspiring their 1,500+ employees, partners and wider community around mental health and overcoming personal challenges.
Would you like to join the journey? I am always looking to partner with brands who share my mission to inspire others. Please get in touch.