Participants set off on the epic journey on Thursday 18 October, flying from Heathrow to Delhi. They then travelled on an overnight sleeper train to Pathankot, continuing by coach to Dharamshala, the spiritual home of the Dalai Lama.
On Sunday 21 October the team set off, and on the first day they witnessed an Indian funeral (an incredible outpouring of emotion) crossed a rickety suspension bridge and tackled a mud slide which had destroyed part of the route.
Monday saw the team trek from near Kareri to Bal village, a walk with amazing views of the Dhauladhar mountain range early in the day, a river crossing after lunch and a tough incline towards the end of the day.
On Tuesday 23 October the team continued their ascent to Triund, a campsite which stands at 2,995 metres above sea level and has some truly spectacular views of the snow-capped Dhauladhar mountain range and the valleys below.
The fourth day of trekking saw the team reach the highest point of their journey, Laka Got at 3,500 metres above sea level. Here the team were invited to hang prayer flags in memory or honour of loved ones cared for by St Barnabas House.
It was an extremely emotional day with some trekkers really struggling, but they were spurred on by the reward of reaching the top. A couple of the team scattered the ashes of loved ones at the highest point.
The final day of trekking consisted of a steep descent to Bhagsu Nag. In the evening the team enjoyed a celebratory meal in Dharamshala before making the long journey back to Delhi and onto Agra to conclude the trip with a visit to the Taj Mahal.
The team have all been fundraising for Worthing-based hospice St Barnabas House, and between them they have raised in excess of £77,000.
Event Manager Kerry Foy said: “I’d like to say a big thanks to everyone involved in the trek, including Global Adventure Challenges for organising the trek and all of the guides and Sherpas who helped us along the way.
“It was a once in a lifetime experience, an opportunity to remember loved ones, and everyone made some great news friends along the way.
“The money raised through sponsorship will help St Barnabas House to provide care for local people with more complex clinical needs, including those with heart, liver, kidney and respiratory conditions.”
Gail Chandler brings husband Clive with her to Laka Got
Yoga instructor Gail Chandler, 61, from Storrington decided to take on the trek with her friend, 76-year-old Carole Pickworth, in memory of her husband Clive Mitchell.
Gail married Clive at St Barnabas House in 2013 after he proposed to her just weeks before he died at the age of 52.
“St Barnabas are the most caring, loving people I’ve ever met,” she said. “The way they helped Clive and I, and the rest of the family. It has been beyond anything I have ever come across before; the care and the love.”
Gail’s daughter, Jemma, is also currently battling cancer, and she added: “I’m also trekking for my daughter (Jemma). They (St Barnabas House) have been so helpful with my daughter. After Clive died the counselling was very, very helpful.
“Clive is actually in my bag. I’ve got him in spirit and I’ve got a bit of him in my bag that I’m taking up to the top. I take a little bit of him whenever I go on a journey and I sprinkle him in waterfalls and lots of beautiful places because he loved to travel.”
Sarah Tuhey treks in memory of her “adventurer” Uncle Mike
Sarah Tuhey, 26, who lives in Brighton and is originally from Storrington, was doing the Dalai Lama India Trek in memory of her uncle, Mike Buck.
Sarah said: “My Uncle Mike was cared for by St Barnabas on their In-patient Unit at the end of November 2015. He was a big adventurer and he absolutely loved to travel and just anything really that was a bit extraordinary.
“I thought he’d be really excited about me coming out here and doing this trek, so I’ve just been trying to do my best and hopefully make him proud.”
“I was really anxious coming out here because I came on my own and I didn’t really know what to expect – it’s the first time I’ve done anything like this. I’ve absolutely loved every second of it, even the challenges.”
Tracey Shaughnessy inspired by the care provided to her stepfather
Tracey Shaughnessy from Worthing was participating in the Dalai Lama India Trek in memory of her stepfather, Richard Sampey.
Tracey said: “My wonderful stepfather visited the Day Hospice – for seven months he had COPD – and that completely changed his life. The counselling that they gave him was amazing. We’ve had some incredible support from the whole of the staff at St Barnabas, including the Bereavement Team.
“He actually came out to India three times and loved the country. The day after he died the hospice’s Life magazine came out and Richard was featured on the front. Three pages in was ‘Come and join us on the Dalai Lama India Trek’ and I thought it was meant to be.”
On day three of the trek, Tracey said: “We’ve had to deal with landslides on the first day which was pretty heart in mouth and yesterday we climbed the sheer side of a mountain and didn’t really think about it.
“I’d like to thank everybody involved in the trek, the Sherpas, Terri and Craig (from Global Adventure Challenges) and all of the staff at St Barnabas supporting us.”
Sandra Grant shares her experience of day one of the trek
Sandra Grant from Worthing decided to do the Dalai Lama India Trek in memory of her mum, Joan Cox.
She said: “I’m walking in the Himalayas on the Dalai Lama India Trek for St Barnabas in memory of my mum, Joan Cox, who died in December 2016.”
Talking on day one of the trek, she added: “We’re towards the end of day one and we have just walked across a landslide! It was interesting, challenging and very, very scary at times but absolutely exhilarating.”
Sue Reed treks in memory of her husband Trevor
Sue Reed from Worthing decided to take on the Dalai Lama India Trek with her friend Carly Rogers in memory of her husband, Trevor.
She said: “I’m doing it for my husband because he passed away six years ago with pancreatic cancer and St Barnabas was such an amazing help for him and me.
“He never went into St B’s, but we had the Hospice at Home Team come to us and they were amazing.
“It’s been amazing; really tough, really emotional, but what a five days it has been. I just can’t believe how far we’ve walked up these mountains. It’s been incredible. The views, the atmosphere, the camaraderie of everybody, has just been great.”
Caroline Smith decides now is the time to give something back
Caroline Smith, 27, from Goring-by-Sea was doing the trek in memory of her friend, Alun Bowen, who was cared for by the hospice in June 2017.
“I worked for St Barnabas for three years so I know how amazing they are and the great work they do in the community,” she said.
“A friend of mine actually passed away last year and he was only 24 and he stayed at St Barnabas House. They treated him and his family really well so I thought now is the time to give something back.”
Fiona Walsh treks in honour of her friend Debbie Darling-Duckels
Fiona Walsh from Brighton was took on the challenge in honour of her friend, Debbie Darling-Duckells, who has received care from the St Barnabas House Day Hospice.
“I was inspired to take part in this challenge by the support the Day Hospice gave to my wonderful friend Debbie Darling-Duckells,” she said.
“It was physically much more demanding than any of us thought and emotionally exhilarating – truly an awesome experience.
“We trekked along narrow ledges, traversed a fast flowing river, negotiated a landslide, climbed steep gradients, crossed high suspension bridges, coped with rocking rocks, shale, snow, and hot sunshine – extremes.
“Thank you to so many of my friends who have sponsored and supported me with their help in running events, lending gardens and houses, hosting, performing, baking cakes, so much. My grand total currently stands at £6,494.42.”
Great Wall of China Trek
St Barnabas House has just opened registration for its next overseas trek, the ‘Great Wall of China Trek’, which takes place in October 2020.