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Double Trouble: Two Amazing Women On Over A Decade of DA Challenges

Written by Steph 20 June 2017

Double Trouble: Two Amazing Women On Over A Decade of DA Challenges

Meet Val & Claire – two of the most fun-loving, know no limits challengers you could ever wish to meet.

 

They’ve completed 11 challenges with us over the last 13 years from trekking to cycling, sailing and even snowshoeing – nothing is an adventure too far for them. But it hasn’t always been that way, so we caught up with them just after they’d touched down from trekking through some of the highest peaks in Western Europe to find out their secret to relentless motivation, why they’ve taken on so many challenges and what’s next on their list.

Tell us a little about your background - have you always been sporty and a bit of a daredevil?
VC MPVal: Well, I am 61, married and have 2 children who have grown up and flown the nest. I have never been particularly sporty or much of a dare devil, but have always liked to push myself and try something different. I’ve always enjoyed walking in the great outdoors, and keeping myself fit.

Working full time as a Professional Relations Manager organising meetings across the UK and Europe involves a lot of networking and event management which really helps with fundraising and raising awareness for Macmillan Cancer Support – which is the cause we fundraise for.

Claire: I’m slightly different to Val in that I’ve always been a bit of a daredevil! I’m definitely sporty having taught PE and was in charge of outward bound activities at my local youth club for 20 years.

So what made you take the decision to embark on your first challenge?

Claire: It was 13 years ago, not long after Val’s mum passed away. Val was experiencing terrible grief and was looking for something to channel her feelings in to. At that time we also had several friends who were fighting cancer. I had a phone call one wet October Sunday afternoon to say she’d had an idea – the rest is history!

Val: As Claire said my mum passed away suddenly Sept 2001. 5 months later I was aware of a huge void that I couldn’t fill and probably never would- all part of the grieving process apparently, but I had never experienced it before. Same time I read an article by the actor Martin Clunes asking people to take up a challenge for Macmillan Cancer Support.  That was it- a new era in my life opened up over the coming year, fundraising, getting fit for the challenge and taking it on- Discover Adventure’s Fire and Ice Challenge in Iceland. Once we had done one, we had to do another …and another…Iceland geyser
And was it your friends fighting cancer that gave you the motivation to choose to fundraise for Macmillan?

Val: Yes, it made sense for us to channel are efforts towards a cause that would support them, as well as help me to channel my grief.
From the outset we have had a close relationship with Macmillan head office in London as well as the Welsh arm of the charity. We regularly get invited to speak to groups such as the WI and retirement groups about our challenges, but always centered on the ‘what and why’ of Macmillan. We do a pretty good double act so we have been told!
Keeping the fundraising all about local issues and appeals, helps with our success in achieving the funds raised so far.

Do you have a specific goal that you would like to achieve?
Claire: I think Val and I will keep trekking as long as our hearts, lungs and legs will allow us to. It is the one time in the year when I am truly myself, at one with nature and the elements – no one’s wife, mum or Nan – just me! 

Val: I just want to contNepal 2012 101 resizedinue to enjoy good health, being physically and mentally able to take on more challenges. Claire and I have confidence in the DA team on these challenges, love meeting others in the group, and the feeling of achievement afterwards. I started these when I was 49, am now 61 and as Claire says, we will keep going as long as we can. I like to push myself way out of the normal comfort zone once a year, experiencing something I would never do in my day to day life. It makes for good story telling and after dinner conversation as well!

You are both really inspiring individuals, but is there anyone that inspires you?

Val: The first answer that came to my mind was Claire- I couldn’t do this without her enthusiasm matching mine, as a fellow fundraiser, organizer, networker and camper!

Claire: We both love the buzz of planning a trek, Val and I are both motivated and it is great having a training, fundraising and trekking partner. I don’t think I could do it with anyone else!

Val: That is half the battle! Otherwise others who inspire me are those we have met on these challenges who may have suffered sickness and loss, but still push themselves. People who have experienced trauma or tragedy in their lives and turn it into positive actions by simply doing something for others, whatever that may be.

How much have you fundraised so far?DSCN0200 resize

Claire: We have raised in the region of £130,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support and have had great fun doing it.
We’ve been fortunate over the years to have been nominated to go to Buckingham Palace Garden Party and to appear on Surprise Surprise – all as a result of our charity fundraising.

Val: We are proud of what we have achieved – but we’ll keep going as long as we can!

So, we’d love to know – what is next on your list?

Val: We are looking at Madagascar or Brazil – the Chapada Diamantina Trek. We prefer the tougher challenges!

Claire: I am 60 next year so we are looking for a really great adventure. We always make a decision at the end of the year – so watch this space! The lure of a tent and walking boots beckons….

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experiences – we can’t fail to be inspired by what you’ve both achieved! We can’t wait to hear what you decide on for 2016.
Claire: I do hope that our passion and energy has come through – we may be the ‘old biddies’ but we can certainly give the younger ones a run for their money!