Forces Veterans Take On The Cumbrian Challenge

Cumbrian Veterans Alabare Homes for Veterans

Four well prepared but slightly nervous Alabaré Veterans drove from the West Country to Grasmere with their support team to take part in the 2015 Walking with the Wounded (WWTW) Cumbrian Challenge.

The Challenge is a lung-busting hike which can be walked or run over multiple fells around the rolling terrain which surrounds Grasmere. Teams are given up to 8 hours to complete the 29km route.

The Alabaré Team were made up of Paul Newark (29 years), Ex-Grenadier Guard, John Clark (28 years), Former Rifleman, Alex Kemp- Hall (30 years), Ex- RAF and Jon James (25 years) a former Welsh Guard.

Alex originally from Wolverhampton and Jon from South Wales reside in Homes for Veterans in Filton, Bristol -a four bedroomed property with an office manned by support staff.  Paul and John live in Homes for Veterans in Longlevens, Gloucester, an eight bedroomed property. Both homes are part of a vital service run by Alabaré that helps service men and women who are experiencing difficulty in adjusting to civilian life. Alabaré is helping these former servicemen who had no place to go with somewhere to live whilst they gain the skills and confidence they need to move on with their lives and eventually into their own accommodation.

Following an eventful journey and arriving in atrocious weather conditions the WWTW Officials took pity on the Alabaré  group and allowed them to bed down under a proper roof rather than canvas.

Up early for breakfast and with all personal belongings packed the Team, by their own volition, decided to take weighted rucksacks to ‘up’ the challenge stakes.  At 08:00 they took to their heels and started running determined to set a good time, they arrived at the first checkpoint at Helmside in just over 30 minutes in 3rd position. 

With military style encouragement from Tony Lovegrove, Employment Mentor, the Team continued the trail ascending and descending a further nine summits.

Unfortunately Alex took a fall and following an assessment from a first aider was taken to Lancaster Hospital A&E Department for treatment.

The Team became even more determined to see the challenge through and maintained their 3rd position right to the end, completing the challenge in 4 hours 15 minutes 23 seconds. They were reunited with Alex at the finishing post.

During the evening entertainment the Alabaré Team were presented with awards from Ed Parker, CEO of Walking with the Wounded, he thanked everyone involved for their hard work and dedication.

Tony Lovegrove, the team mentor said;

‘It was a tough challenge, but brilliant, the lads are already looking forward to next year! The Team were outstanding and as Alabaré Veterans they behaved respectfully throughout and I am proud to have been involved in this’.

Paul Newark from Alabaré’s Gloucester Home for Veterans said;

‘I cannot wait for the Challenge next year, we are jolly well going to win it’!

John Clark, a born and bred Bristolian, still elated from the Challenge said;

‘It was an exhilarating weekend. Standby everyone we are coming back to smash the record’!!

Alabaré wishes to thank Mr Fews and his staff at M J Fews of Charfield, near Wotton-Under-Edge for the use of a pick-up vehicle, fuel and insurance. and to Go Outdoors of Gloucester who supplied two free pairs of walking boots.

A further thank you also to Major and Jackie Barber at the Bristol Home for Veterans for supplying tents and a sleeping bag, as did Neil Hunt of the Gloucester Home for Veterans.