A Shaftesbury student is about to begin a challenging trek through the Himalayas to raise cash for a charity undertaking life-saving research.
Keira Norris knows that she’ll be walking through mountainous terrain – she’s a geography undergraduate at Exeter University. She’ll be climbing to 17,600 feet above sea level, somewhat higher than Shaftesbury’s 770 feet!
“I was working with some university students and we raised money for the Meningitis Research Foundation – just under £3,000. The reward, at the end, was to travel to Nepal and trek to Everest base camp for 16 days.”
Keira says she hasn’t trained for the trekking because she is fairly fit. “Technically, you don’t have to do any training. I’ve done some walks, breaking in my walking boots, but I haven’t done much to be honest. I think I should be okay,” said Keira. “I used to do a lot of walks with my mum up Great Lane. And Exeter is really hilly. I’ve been doing walking there for a year.”
Keira has joined in with a group of fundraisers. “There’s a society at university called Rag – the ‘raise and give’ society. I became part of that and they offer these challenges where you work with different charities. Mine happens to be the Meningitis Research Foundation. There are about twenty of us going in our group and there are other challenges going on.”
Keira was set a fundraising target and, when she had achieved that, she was able to apply for the expedition. “We had £2,940 to raise and we had to pay a bit of our own money as well. I’ve personally raised £3,100. Each person has done that so, at the moment, we’ve raised £45,000 for the charity. You could pay more of your own money and raise less but I chose the highest amount to raise and the lowest to pay, so I just had to pay a couple of hundred pounds.”
Keira says Shaftesbury people have been very supportive. Her relatives were fundraising at last December’s late-night shopping evening. She has also received donations from people who remember her from school or from her summer and weekend jobs at the John Peel café. She has also raised cash online.
“I had a page that I shared on Facebook and a lot of friends and family donated. That made around £1,000, which was really good. I also did a pub quiz in Motcombe. That raised £400. I’ve had bake sales at uni and I’ve had loads of street collections, some in Bath, with my mum.”
So what is Keira expecting from the experience? “They have said it will be difficult and we will go very slowly. I guess we’ll just have to see because not everybody will react badly to the altitude.”
During the trek the group will be staying in tea houses. “Luckily not in tents, but we will be in sleeping bags,” says Keira. “It won’t be the most luxurious.”
Keira says she is most looking forward to getting there so she can take pictures. And she is excited about bonding with her fellow trekkers. “Although I know the people that I am going with, it’ll be good to get to know them at a really personal level because we will get to see each other at our worst.”
Keira will have an unusual item from Dorset in her luggage. “I am taking my dad’s work hoodie. My brother did a different trek and my dad wants a picture of the hoodie taken in front of the mountain. It says CPH scaffolding in Blandford on it. He just likes having the pictures!”
Keira’s adventure begins on 3rd September.