Birthday challenge fulfils a childhood dream

Sarah Jones was on Mount Everest for her 50th birthday
Sarah Jones was on Mount Everest for her 50th birthday

Having been fascinated with the world’s highest mountain since she was a child, Sarah Jones set herself the challenge of climbing Mount Everest to celebrate her 50th birthday.

Having been fascinated with the world’s highest mountain since she was a child, Sarah Jones set herself the challenge of climbing Mount Everest to celebrate her 50th birthday.

Sarah Jones, right, with her friend Madeline Band

Sarah Jones, right, with her friend Madeline Band

It was tough and exhausting but Sarah enjoyed every minute and raised more than £2,600 for St Barnabas House hospice as a result.

She said: “The trek was quite simply the most incredible experience of my life. It exceeded all my expectations and although it was physically very demanding, it was also hugely rewarding in every way.

“Being surrounded by the immense mountains, the names of which I’d seen and read so much about, seemed very surreal. Now I want to go back and do it all again.”

Sarah, who lives in Lancing, was given the Guinness Book of Records for Christmas when she was 13, which fuelled her love of Everest.

“I’ve followed the expeditions, read all the books, watched all the documentaries and sat though the nail-biting movies. It’s just always been a dream of mine to see Mount Everest with my own eyes,” she said.

She trekked to Mount Everest Base Camp in memory of her dear friend Madeline Band, known as Mad, who was helped by the Hospice at Home service when she suffered bowel cancer in April 2015.

The challenge covered 77 miles in 13 days, nine of them to trek up and a further four to descend, and temperatures dropped as low as -20 degrees C at night.

Sarah said: “The trek to Everest Base Camp was guided, supported and arranged through Travel and Trek, who liaised with the fundraising team at St Barnabas House.

“They arranged the dates so I could spend my 50th birthday at Everest.

“The trek was also very emotional and I thought about Mad with every step I took. I had my little seagull mascot on my shoulder to remind me that Mad was there and telling me to keep going when I was flagging.

“Sadly Mad was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in January 2015 and she died in April 2015 after receiving palliative care at home from the St Barnabas nurses.

“Although I didn’t have direct contact with St Barnabas, I know their Hospice at Home service was invaluable to Mad and her partner in her last days, allowing the dignity of dying at home in familiar surroundings with the people she loved, her final wish.”

Anyone thinking about taking on a similar challenge to support St Barnabas House should visit www.stbh.org.uk/get-involved for more information.

Bella Cripps, events co-ordinator at St Barnabas House, said: “Sarah has been an incredible supporter of St Barnabas House. She has been very determined and dedicated to her challenge and raised a fantastic amount.

“It is because of amazing fundraisers like Sarah that we are able to keep providing outstanding hospice care for the people in our local area.”