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Three determined fundraisers are gearing up for a unique eight-day trek across the width of the Falkland Islands in memory of their loved ones who received care at Ashgate Hospice.
Stephen Beasley and Gary & Jo Platts, from Chesterfield, will be taking on the 70-mile South Atlantic hike across rugged and daunting terrain between San Carlos Bay and Stanley.
Gary, who will turn 61 on the first day of the walk, fought in the 1982 war as a Royal Engineer alongside the Royal Marines from 40 and 42 Commando.
The former Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service firefighter will retrace some of the route he travelled across the island while he served during the war more than 40 years ago.
Stephen, 54, hopes the friends can raise £5,000 for the hospice after his brother, Andrew Beasley, received end-of-life care at the hospice in 2021, aged 60.
They will start the challenge on 5th February when they fly out to the island via the RAF, before returning on the 16th.
Stephen, a financial adviser at St James’s Place, said: “We are planning to retrace the steps that the British troops took in 1982 during the Falkland Islands conflict.
“Gary has a strong emotional link to the Islands due to the conflict, and I also have a connection with the islands, as my father was there in 1981 working for the Falkland Islands Company, which built the local school.”
After attending the 40th anniversary of the conflict in 2022 in the Falklands, couple Gary and Jo made the decision to later return to the Islands and retrace Gary’s war time yomp.
When Stephen then heard of their venture, he said it “sparked” something inside him – and from there the fundraiser was born.
Stephen added: “We both have our own reasons for wanting to raise money for Ashgate Hospice and this challenge seemed an appropriate way to highlight and support the fantastic work the charity does.
“The hospice enabled my brother Andrew to fulfil his wish of being at home as long as possible at the end of his life and he later passed away peacefully in the hospice.
“Andrew bequeathed me some money and I thought this seemed an interesting adventure to take on in his memory.
“Gary also has a personal connection to the hospice after they cared for his mum when she had terminal cancer.”
They will carry all their equipment on their backs during the trip, while the lack of houses, hamlets or settlements along the route will mean they will have to wild camp each night, with only sheep for company.
The friends, who met 20 years ago, have been undertaking rigorous training walks in preparation – often long before dawn in the week – as well as long weekend hikes in the Peak District.
Stephen has previously taken on the hospice’s Sparkle Night Walk, which will this year be sponsored by NOCN Group, but wanted to “take his fundraising up another level,” he said.
He said: “The route will be a huge physical challenge to us. I am excited but incredibly nervous – this is taking me way out of my comfort zone”
“We estimate that we will be walking between 75 to 80 miles in tough terrain from the west of the island to the east during the day and wild camping through the nights – this isn’t exactly my forte; I haven’t camped for 45 years!
“The issue of cancer is relevant for us today as my work colleague Rob Hardwick has recently been diagnosed with tonsil cancer, so this has spurred me on even more to complete this challenge!”
The team are also appealing for local businesses which would be interested in sponsoring their kit to reach out to them by emailing [email protected].
Adele Taylor, Community Relationship Fundraiser at Ashgate Hospice, said: “On behalf of everyone at the hospice I’d like to wish Stephen, Gary, & Jo the absolute best of luck ahead of their fundraising trek in February.
“We’re so grateful that they’ve chosen to support us as part of the challenge and we’re sure they’ll do their loved ones proud.”
Stephen, Gary, and Jo said they would like to publicly thank the staff at Go Outdoors in Chesterfield, who have helped provide them with advice, clothing, and equipment ahead of the trek, and have also received support from the Falkland Islanders themselves.
Anyone who would like to make a donation to the friend’s fundraiser can do so on their JustGiving page.