Wednesday, December 7th, 2022

Quartet cycles 450 miles during Three Peaks Challenge to raise funds to support the mental health of Sevenoaks youngsters through music

THE NATIONAL Three Peaks Challenge involves climbing Snowdon in Wales (1085m), Scafell Pike in England (978m) and Ben Nevis in Scotland (1345m). This in itself is tough enough as participants have to walk approximately 23 miles and make a total ascent of 3,064 metres.

Mike Paterson heard about The Lewis Project when he was a member of Sevenoaks Vine cricket club.

Four men, including 60-year-old Mike Paterson from Four Elms, not only recently completed the challenge, but in a bid to raise more money for their chosen charities, they cycled the 450 miles between the three peaks as well – all in the space of six days.

One of the organisations to benefit from this feat of endurance is the Lewis Project, a Sevenoaks-based organisation that helps young people, who suffer from anxiety and other mental health issues, through music. It was set up in memory of Lewis Murrell, a talented drummer, who took his life at 29-years-old in 2013 after a long struggle with a depressive disorder.

The Lewis Project, located in the House in the Basement at The Stag Theatre in Sevenoaks, is equipped with instruments and a sound system for young musicians to practice, rehearse, jam and collaborate.

So why did Mike decide to support The Lewis Project? He explains: “I first heard about The Lewis Project when I was on the committee at Sevenoaks Vine Cricket Club where I played for many years. There is an annual local cricket competition called the Clark Trophy and each year they have a nominated charity. Three years ago it was The Lewis Project.”

“The charity particularly struck a chord with me as I had a very good friend who suffered from depression and tragically took his own life, plus I did a bit of drumming and still do some singing myself. I spent some time going down to the project and donated the last of my old percussion bits and pieces as well as helping as a ‘roadie’ at some of the gigs they organised.

CHAIN GANG: The team prepares to set off to cycle between mountains on their Three Peak Challenge.

“I was 60 in April and decided I wanted to do something to celebrate the fact I am still around when so many friends and acquaintances have passed away. One of my close pals, Gary Lockett, is a director of Southend United Football Club, where I am also closely associated and have followed for 53 years being born and bred in Essex. Gary does a charity challenge once every two years and I foolishly promised him that, after a 600 mile bike ride he completed in 2016, that I would join him on his next adventure.

“So, when he suggested doing the Three Peaks Challenge I thought this would be a fitting memorial to Larry as he was a keen fell walker and we had always wanted to do Scafell together. But then Gary informed me we would also be cycling between the three peaks – a distance of about 450 miles. Ouch, I thought!”

“I have done some similar charity challenges in the past such as walking from Southend Football Club to Charlton Football club and climbing Mont Blanc so I have a bit of history in doing these daft things!

“I was obviously a lot fitter in my younger years as I played a lot of cricket and football but have spent the last five years sitting on my backside 10 hours a day building and developing a currency website. So, the sum total of my exercise was walking the dog each day. Plus, I had thyroid cancer five years ago and that set me back as I wasn’t able to exercise as much as I would have liked.

“One of the first things I had to do was get myself a bike as I didn’t even have one. The last cycling I did was more than 20 years ago and that was just recreational. I started off by doing lots of fairly short rides of between five and 25 miles but then I found out the three other people I was doing the challenge with were doing 35-50-mile training runs!

“I knew my will power was strong and wouldn’t let me down, but I was about a month behind the curve with my training by the time our May start date came around, although all the training did help me lose two stone in weight which would also help.

PEAK PERFORMANCE: Mike Paterson, Gary Lockett, Ciaran Woods, and Robert Plant in their Lewis Project t-shirts on the peak of Scafell Pike.

“The Three Peak Challenge is usually attempted in 24 hours and participants drive between the mountains. But as we were cycling as well, we titled our challenge ‘Three Peaks The Hard Way’ on our JustGiving page.

“We arrived in Colwyn Bay on Saturday 12 May and after an overnight stay, climbed Snowdon in the morning which took us between four and five hours, then we jumped on the bikes and did 60 miles in the afternoon – I hadn’t done more than 45 miles while I was training.

“After another overnight stop we cycled 95 miles the following day and then after another sleepover did 20 miles the next morning to get us to Langdale which is one of the entry points to Scafell, although this is one of the steepest routes.

“After all the cycling, and the previous climb, I was starting to find the going tough, but I wanted to do Scarfell particularly because of my mate Larry. I made it to the top, but it was a long haul down again.

“The next morning we did 85 miles of the 250 miles we had left to get to Fort William. Taking the most direct route meant cycling down some of the major A roads with juggernauts going passed us at high speeds which was not a lot of fun when you are on a bike.

CHILL FACTOR: The team makes its way through the snow on the way to the top of Ben Nevis.

“We completed the 250 miles over three days and arrived on the Friday night before setting off the following morning for our last climb up Ben Nevis. The final part of the trail had snow on it and the wind chill factor made it extremely cold in the region of -10C, so although we were glad to get to the top we didn’t hang around too long up there understandably.

“When you come down again you can either go straight back to the visitor centre or turn right into the Ben Nevis Inn – which is where we went for a celebratory drink that included a round or two of 10-year-old Laphroaig Whisky. We came home the next day by train – and I spent the next two weeks recovering. No pain no gain they say!”

Mike completed the challenge with Gary Lockett, Robert Plant, Ciaran Woods and support driver Shane Chapman. Their aim was to raise money for The Lewis Project and BEAT It (www.beat-it-canrehab.co.uk) which offers stroke related issues/care, and breast cancer exercise rehabilitation.

Mike said: “When we started discussing the challenge we decided we wanted to help local charities and small projects which would really benefit from the funds we were aiming to raise. We were originally aiming for a figure of around £6,000 but have now upped that target to £8,000. The charity for stroke related illnesses is also quite personal for me as my sister very sadly had a stroke a few years ago and is still in need of constant care.

“The money that we donate will guarantee organisations like The Lewis Project can survive for another year. They don’t have a lot of funding but it is a project that needs supporting and the people running it have done a fantastic job getting it to where it is.”

* If you would like more info about The Lewis Project go to: www.thelewisproject.org.uk

To help Mike and his colleagues reach their £8,000 target you can donate by going to:

www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/3peaksthehardway

TOP TEAM: On the final peak at Ben Nevis. The quartet and their guide stop for a photo before making their way back down for a well-earned celebratory drink.

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