Alec and Victoria Shillaker took on the ‘biggest physical challenge’ of their lives, scaling new heights for us
In December, the couple, from Nottingham, strapped on their hiking boots and crampons as they embarked on an aspiring adventure, climbing the highest peak in the Southern and Western hemisphere, Mount Aconcagua.
They took on the challenge for us after their son, Finn, contracted the disease when he was nine-months old.
“The trip was a challenge on multiple levels. Firstly leaving Finn at home was really hard - he had a tough battle with pneumococcal meningitis in 2013, but fortunately appears to have no after-effects. The fear of almost losing him made us want to help others - we would do anything we can to try and prevent anyone else from suffering this horrible illness."
“Secondly, the conditions on the mountain were exceptional and it was a real test dealing with the physical demands this placed on us. Fortunately we knew that what we were doing was going to help Meningitis Now and we had the support of so many friends and family.”
The couple spent a total of 15 days on the Argentinian mountain, however, due to poor weather conditions they were unable summit the full 6,962m – the second highest of the 'Seven Summits' and the highest peak outside of the Himalayas.
“It was a real disappointment that no one was able to summit due to safety reasons, but we reached an altitude of 6,000m. It’s a height we've not reached before, so we're proud of what we achieved and perhaps one day we'll go back and finish the job!"
“The whole experience has been such an epic adventure that it's difficult to sum it up in only a few words. I was really glad to be tackling it with my wife and we both supported one another really well, as we always do through good and bad. If I had five words to sum up the trip, they'd be: epic, cold, tough, scary and rewarding!”
The couple have raised nearly £3,000 through sponsorship, plus an additional £10,000 through their participation in the Mountain Warehouse Charity Challenge – a competition for individuals with an endearing story who were taking part in an extreme outdoor challenge for charity.
After a series of voting rounds, Alec and Victoria were awarded £10,000 for their chosen charity.
“I’d like to thank the thousands of people who voted in the Mountain Warehouse Charity Challenge, enabling us to win the £10,000 donation, and all those who donated and supported us through our Just Giving page.”
Sponsorship is still open - if you would like to support Alec and Victoria’s challenge, please visit www.justgiving.com/UpThenDown
“What an incredible challenge! I know it will be a disappointment to Alec and Victoria not reaching the summit after they have worked and trained so hard, but they did incredibly well. Facing such tough weather and terrain was no easy feat."
“They have raised a fantastic amount for us which will make a huge difference to those whose lives have been affected by meningitis – for that I would like to say a huge thank you.”
Sue Davie, CEORead Finn's story here