Toby and Louie showing their support in North Wales
News

Forces Wives Challenge: Fundraisers Virtually Climb Welsh Mountain

The network of military wives, partners and families climbed the equivalent height of Pen y Fan's 886m whilst in isolation.

Toby and Louie showing their support in North Wales

People in the UK and abroad have virtually climbed a Welsh mountain peak whilst in isolation to raise money for charity.

It was organised by Forces Wives Challenge (FWC) - a network of military wives and partners.

The group traditionally climb the 886 metres of Pen y Fan each year.

This year's attempt was due to take place later in the calendar, but due to coronavirus, it was brought forward. It was also made virtual so those participating could climb the equivalent height whilst in isolation.

The challenge took place on 18 April, between 00:01 and 23:59, and could be completed either on "your staircase, a hilly garden or local hill" – as long as the current government guidelines were adhered to.

More than 400 military and non-military challengers took part, from locations as far as Nashville, Tennessee in the USA, Oman and Afghanistan, organisers said.

Final tally for virtual Pen y Fan challenge
The challenge both brought the community together and provided support for numerous charities (Picture: Forces Wives Challenge).

Heather Sharp is a former officer in the British Army and founder of FWC. She reached the summit after climbing her staircase 312 times, splitting it between her family of four.

“Obviously this year we weren’t sure if it was going to happen but we were still really keen to try and unite our community,” she told Forces News.

“I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the level of support for this year’s event, everyone has been fantastic at getting involved and raising money. It has been amazing and much bigger than I ever expected.

"I think it really is an emotional journey of some days you’re feeling brilliant, you’re totally able to cope and then some days you just feel so lonely and isolated.

"Many of our members partners are deployed so you know they feel it even more with deployments."

Military wife Tara, in Catterick Garrison, and her husband Richard, were determined to complete the challenge together despite Richard's current deployment in Afghanistan.

Tara and her family crossing reaching the virtual summit of Pen y Fan
Nearly 400 people took part in the challenge during isolation (Picture: Forces Wives Challenge).

“Richard has been in Afghanistan for six months, so this challenge came at the perfect time,” she said.

“With the coronavirus pandemic, Richard’s tour has recently been extended by a few weeks, so keeping our family together has been a challenge.”

The FWC’s chosen charity for the challenge this year was Scotty’s Little Soldiers, an organisation providing support for bereaved British Forces children.

So far, FWC have raised over £1,000 for the charity, and others.

Nikki Scott, founder of Scotty’s Little Soldiers thanked Heather and the Forces Wives Challenge for their support. She added: “Our families need us more than ever so every penny helps to ensure we can continue to deliver the high standard of support they need at this time of uncertainty," she said.

Cover image: Forces Wives Challenge.