(Photo: © Arnold Page)
Super-fit mountain hiker Arnold Page plans to celebrate turning 70 with a mammoth fundraising challenge in Snowdonia
No slippers, pipe and armchair for Arnold Page – a real fundraising hero who intends to mark his 70th birthday next July by climbing the 15 peaks over 3,000 feet high in Snowdonia – all in 24 hours.
Arnold’s efforts are to raise money for a CMS-supported project in the Chilean Andes mountains – among the Pehuenche Indian community in the Alto Bio Bio area.
The money he raises will help the Pehuenche families to grow vegetables and fruit in polythene greenhouses 4,000 feet above sea-level.
But why on earth is Arnold embarking on such a gruelling challenge? For most people half his age, attempting one of the peaks in Snowdon would be enough.
“The Pehuenches are some of the poorest people in Chile. Many of them live in shacks which are so drafty that they have to brush the snow off their beds on winter mornings.
Since they live among the world’s second highest mountains it seemed like a good idea to climb a few hills in North Wales to help them out,” says Arnold.
“Actually this will be my fourth attempt at this challenge: in 2010 I got within 20 minutes of succeeding, so this time, in my 70th birthday week, I am determined to make it.”
Arnold’s team needs £2,400 to make up the current shortfall in funding and keep the project running for a further six months. If they raise more, the project will of course be able to run longer.
He’s looking to recruit seven other walkers to do the challenge with him. There will also be two support personnel on the team.
Arnold is passionate about helping the grassroots poor in Chile and has first-hand experience as he used to work as a Methodist missionary in Punta Arenas, Chile’s most southerly city. After he returned to the UK he set up a charity called Chile for Christ.
Over the past 19 years the charity has given several gifts of thousands of pounds to the Pehuenche community – through a Chilean organisation called Camdes (which translates to the Anglican Corporation for Mission and Social Development).
Arnold explains: “Chile has one of the world's most unequal distributions of wealth. Chile for Christ supports the ministry of local churches to some of its poorest people, including self-build housing, honey-making, furniture-making, the provision of children’s Bibles to parents and the education of pastors’ children.”
But Arnold’s no stranger to tough fundraising challenges – having undertaken several others in the past, including two previous attempts on the same 15 peaks in Snowdonia, and a successful attempt at the Three Peaks Challenge, which involves climbing the three highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales respectively in 24 hours.
Altogether the sporting challenge events Arnold has organised have raised £19,790 to date.
This time he’s added an extra twist to make things a bit more challenging – as if they needed to be! Instead of transport waiting to take him to the second range of mountain peaks, he's walking all the way.
So how tough will this be and has training started?
Arnold says: ”The Welsh 3,000s are harder, longer and higher than the Three Peaks Challenge.
They are harder because they involve some tricky rock scrambling, the walking distance is 30 miles, and the total ascent is 12,000 feet, which is greater than the ascent from Everest base camp to the summit! So I shall be starting my training on 1 January, come wind or snow.
One keen supporter of Arnold's is CMS trust fundraiser Andy Bowman. Andy has direct experience of working on projects with the Pehuenche community in Alto Bio Bio. Before joining CMS, Andy was a missionary with USPG working in the area for nearly 11 years.
Chilean Christians support Pehuenche
And after one of Arnold’s previous Welsh 3,000 challenge attempts, Andy (who was in Chile) showed slides of the walk to the congregation of a large Anglican church in the city of Concepcion.
They were so impressed that the members there decided they too should take an active part in supporting their Pehuenche brothers and sisters up in the mountains, a promise that they have continued to keep to this day.
If you would like to help Arnold reach his target, please just click the button below.
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And how about joining Arnold – for all or part of the challenge – just get in touch with Hannah Caroe, CMS community and events fundraiser. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01865 787521.
CMS is organising sponsored treks in the Himalayas, Machu Picchu and up Kilimanjaro – or for something gentler, walk the South Downs Way.
See Sponsored Challenge pages >