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Chicken in the soup (tourists in the rain) – Chinese saying
“There’s nothing bloody heavenly about this Jim!” – swearing at our Guide as we reached the top of Heaven’s Ladder; a steep, crumbling stairwell of 300 steps up the side of a mountain.
Stretching 6000km in a dotted line across China, the Great Wall was begun in the 5th Century BC. As it snakes across the mountains it conjures up a sense of history which is difficult to grasp until you have had the opportunity to experience it.
Fortunately (or not), my mum and I were some of the lucky ones who, along with 36 others, spent 10 days in China taking on the challenge of the Great Wall. We had some fantastic Guides, including a local called Alan who spoke flawless English and knew the wall like the back of his hand. Each time we conquered a mammoth section of the wall, Alan would sit us down and give us a lesson on China and answer our burning questions! At night we were welcomed into the homes of local farmers who’s food and hospitality gave us a true cultural experience of rural China.
The trek itself was both a physical and mental challenge. Some sections would wind through remote woodland and terraced farmland with slippery stones and crumbling rocks. Other parts would lead us up the sides of mountains and across some high, narrow ridges with gale force winds – there were a few hairy moments!
But we couldn’t have reached the top of those mountains if it hadn’t been for all the support from our family and friends back home. So far the grand total is at £5,823 and we’re still collecting! Your generous donations will go towards Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital’s new cardiac theatre. This new facility will provide the flexibility to accommodate future advances in surgical techniques ranging from cardiac transplantation to keyhole surgery.
Overall, the new cardiac theatre will allow GOSH to maintain the quality of care expected of a centre of excellence, and ensure that the future vision for cardiac surgery is delivered, and children needing cardiac surgery get the best care possible.
As well as fundraising for GOSH, this trek gave us the chance to get our new charity, My Ten Days, off the ground. The charity encourages owner/managers of small to medium size businesses to give an extra ten days’ paid leave to one member of their team to do something worthwhile, either in the UK or overseas. www.mytendays.org
When we arrived at Gatwick in our hiking boots and oversized rucksacks, we didn’t know a soul. By the flight home, we had left China as a team who had helped each other out of some sticky situations and been together along one of the most incredible journeys any of us will ever experience.
Donations can still be made at www.justgiving.com/brightley-hodges
If you have been inspired to do something amazing, get involved with Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital at – www.gosh.org or lobby your boss and visit www.mytendays.org
Jackie Groundsell is known as the queen of women's business networking lunches - the connector. She supports thousands of small business owners through her events and lunch-time meetings