Snowdon is one of the mountains to be tackled in the George Frew Memorial Three Peaks Challenge
No one who was present at the Regional Press Awards last July will forget the feature writer of the year category. It was won by George Frew of the Western Daily Press, who was in a hospice as his colleagues celebrated on his behalf at the Hilton hotel. Less than two weeks later, the 48-year-old Frew died, a victim of lung cancer that had been diagnosed just eight months earlier.
In those months after the diagnosis, Frew had written for the WDP a series of frank, funny and moving pieces about facing up to “the big C” (you can read them by going to www.pressgazette.co.uk/Features.asp x?Action=View&ID=3740).
But despite the uncomplaining way he had dealt with his illness, he had also confided to Steve White – his features editor at the WDP – that he felt guilty about not being able to repay those who had done so much to look after him, in particular the medical staff and the Newspaper Press Fund.
White promised him that he would do something about it. And that’s why the George Frew Memorial Three Peaks Challenge has come about. White hopes to attract 20 teams of journalists to tackle the Three Peaks of Great Britain and raise money from sponsorship for Cancer Research and the Newspaper Press Fund (now renamed NPF: the Journalists’ Charity).
The event will be held over the weekend of 26 and 27 June and will see teams of walkers tackle Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon, one after the other.
White has enlisted a team of expert walkers to lead the event and has booked dinner and beds for 100 people at Snowdon for a celebration presentation party when the event is completed.
He said: “George was a great bloke and a marvellous journalist. It was terrible to see him deteriorate after cancer hit him. Even though he was often in awful pain and found breathing increasingly difficult, he insisted on coming in to work right up to the very end.
“In the last few weeks of his life George mentioned several times to me that he felt terribly guilty that he would never be able to repay those who had helped him during his illness – particularly the Newspaper Press Fund and medical staff.
“I promised I would organise an event in his name with a view to raising funds for those he felt indebted to.
“I want to sign up 20 teams of journalists from across the UK (three walkers and a driver in each team) to take up the challenge.” The team of experts leading the volunteers includes the author of the definitive guide to tackling the Three Peaks of Britain.
It’s a serious challenge, taking in about 26 miles of walking, much of it over difficult terrain, and some 500 miles of driving. Although teams will need to be pretty fit to get through it, the emphasis will be on enjoyment – so there’s nothing to stop a team doing the challenge as a relay, for example.
Although it is perfectly possible to complete it in less than 24 hours, because of the numbers involved and because they must stick together for safety, White expects the teams to take about 30 to 32 hours. The walk is timed to start at first light on the Saturday and finish around lunchtime on the Sunday.
“That should give us a few hours to get cleaned up and rest before celebrating in style,” said White.
Everyone who signs up will receive expert briefings on everything they need to know about tackling the Three Peaks.
Rob Gibson of the NPF and Cancer Research fundraiser Penny Beare have both pledged their organisations’ support.
The NPF is raising money to rebuild its care home, Sandy Cross, in Dorking. Cancer Research will provide certificates to all those who complete the challenge and prizes to those who raise the most sponsorship.
Western Daily Press editor Terry Manners said: “Anyone who knew George can’t fail to have been impressed by his talent and his great courage when he was struck down by a terrible disease.
“It would be a wonderful tribute to George if a substantial amount of money was raised for two worthy charities in his name.”
Western Daily Press features editor Steve White is hoping to attract 20 teams of journalists to take part in the Three Peaks Challenge over the weekend of 26 and 27 June. If you want to take up the challenge, e-mail the name of your team and team leader to email@example.com or phone Steve on 0117 934 3259. He is is also keen to hear from any potential event sponsors.
The walk will be led by Brian Smailes, author of The National 3 Peaks Walk (Challenge Publications, £6.50), which is available by calling 01226 217695 or can be ordered via www.chall-pub.fsnet.co.uk