On the eve of my next expedition I find myself reflecting on the whys and how’s? Many people have been asking me; ‘Why do you take on these challenges? What drives you? Are you ever scared?’
These questions make me smile, as they make me think; Why am I doing this? What drives me? Should I be scared?
I have always been inspired by those who serve humanity, intrigued by our abilities and fuelled by actions which bring positive change to others. I am a doer, not an over-thinker, a yes girl, a dreamer, a nonconformist.
Not much scares me, that is until I am ‘in the thick of it’; my challenges have helped raise vital funds for worthy causes, my post-event school talks aim to raise the profile of the charities which I support, hopefully inspiring others to set their own fundraising challenges, whilst pushing their own personal comfort barometer a few degrees.
In 2016 my dear friends at Bradleys Foundation suggested that we collaborate and focus on doing something big for Teenage Cancer Trust. The Teenage Cancer Trust unit at Southampton required a ‘life enhancing,’ specialist piece of equipment at a cost of £12,500. My first thought was, “Yes, I am in!” Upon reflection I knew a big challenge would be required to raise this sort of cash, so I set my sights on climbing Mont Blanc which I successfully summited in June 2016, having never climbed anything in my life due to my gripping fear of heights.
In 2017 my friends guided me to the work of The Murray Parish Trust and before I knew it I found myself scaling the iconic Matterhorn in a bid to raise money towards their £5million appeal.
On both these expeditions I felt the presence of my supporters and the spirit of the charities, two things which drive me particularly when the going gets tough and doubts set in.
Bradley, in whose memory Bradleys Foundation was founded, was with me every step of the way on Mont Blanc; I even recall calling on his help when we were told the weather was not on our side and a safe summit would be less than likely.
On The Matterhorn I felt the spirit of Ella Jane, inspiration for The Murray Parish Trust and felt so super proud to fly her flag at the summit, knowing that her legacy would bring about hope, comfort and change for so many children. I found myself speaking to her and asking her to get my breathing under control when I was truly exhausted.
To this day I can remember all the things which went ‘wrong’, the moments when I felt so little, real doubts, close to panic setting in, the moments when I could see fear in the faces of other climbers, evidence of altitude sickness (which is not pleasant to suffer, or see), the deafening sound of search and rescue helicopters echoing in the silence. The small details are often kept secret, pushing you out of your everyday and so far away from your home comfort zone.
Having said all of that I love being outdoors and love these expeditions but they will always be a challenge for me as don’t like sleeping rough, don’t like heights, don’t enjoy not having a toilet and I certainly don’t enjoy cat washing for any length of time.
So why do you do it Shadi? I do it because I love to feel that I may be making a difference to others, however small, raising funds for superb causes, bringing about change in myself and sharing the stories with others.
Expeditions often take 12 months of planning and preparing, relying on the support of everyone you know, from your kids who have to put up with you missing their show, to your poor husband who holds things together whilst silently worrying every time that 360 Expeditions, Berghaus holdall comes out, and your network of connections who eagerly support your quest to make a difference.
Everything worthwhile in life comes with some degree of sacrifice; I have missed important Family Birthdays, Sports Days, Anniversaries and had to decline social events and late nights running up to the event. A huge commitment is made to stay physically and emotionally fit, not to mention the financial commitment of funding each new challenge. But it is all worth it, knowing I am fulfilling my purpose to serve others.
None of these fundraising endeavours would have been possible without the help and support of a huge network of family, friends and local community this is why we established Team GC. Aiming to provide a platform for collaboration; be it by financial support, or getting involved in the many group challenges which are planned for the near future. All of which are designed to accelerate fundraising by inspiring others to participate and move their own personal comfort barometer in order to help others.
So what does this year hold in store? Amongst other things I am going to climb Elbrus on Friday the 28th June, raising funds for Allegras Ambition, a small Winchester based charity set up in honour of Allegra. This is a truly inspiring charity, established to improve young people’s lives through sport and nature. The goal is to raise funding, contributing to the substantial cost of establishing an outdoor learning facility for vulnerable children based at Youth Options in Eastleigh.
I can’t wait to take Allegra’s flag to the summit of Elbrus, Russia (the Highest Mountain in ‘Europe’) and will be super proud to call on her when the going gets tough for sure. Upon my return to England I will commence my school tours, sharing all the valuable lessons and anecdotes whilst raising money for this incredible charity, hopefully inspiring future fundraisers along the way.
So, whilst I go to pack and unpacking my bags for the 6th time before I head to the airport I would like to leave you with my biggest ‘aha’ moment; The charities I have been collaborating with have something incredible in common, they have each turned the tragic loss of a child into a super positive vehicle to bring about change and comfort to others. They are the true super heroes of my story, as are you for helping me support them!
Educate, Collaborate & Dare to be different.
Should you wish to help to make a difference, please go to https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/TEAMGCVElbrus
Should you wish to book a talk at your school or business drop me a line: Shadi@teamgc.co.uk