An adventurous team of north-east business chiefs have returned from a gruelling 15,000-feet trek in the Andes – while raising £25,000 for a charity.
The team’s five members set off from Aberdeen to take on the tough 10-day challenge through the Peruvian Inca ruins to the ancient city of Machu Picchu at 15,000ft altitude.
As part of the Machu Picchu hike, participants experienced aches, pains, thousands of steps, high mountain passes and rough sleeping.
The team spent difficult four days trekking up the slopes of the mountain, but the participants are delighted to have conquered their big challenge.
John Morrison, managing director of General & Technical Services, said he was pushed out of his comfort zone during the challenge.
The money raised will be put towards the funding of a 20-bed facility which will assist people living with a range of mental health conditions.
Social care charity VSA launched the £3.2 million campaign to build the state-of-the-art mental wellbeing centre in the heart of the city.
The VSA Changing Lives campaign, which is being backed by the Evening Express, has already raised £2.1m.
The new facility, which the charity would like to build on the corner of Abergeldie Road and Holburn Street, will feature 20 en-suite bedrooms with a small kitchen area and lounge, a residential lounge, dining room, two relaxation rooms, a fully-fitted kitchen, laundry room, office space and a garden area. The space was formerly the site of an NHS clinic and was demolished some years previously.
John added: “It was a fantastic challenge for us all.
“There’s no way to prepare, mentally and physically, for the gruelling nature of the challenge but it makes it even more satisfying to overcome this and especially knowing that we were raising funds for VSA’s Changing Lives campaign.”
John Mutch, director of John Mutch Building Services, said: “The experience was always going to be great, visiting one of the seven wonders of the modern world, however, arriving via the original Inca Trail route made it even more rewarding.
“To anyone else considering a trip like this, the most important aspect is that through your efforts, with support from friends and family, you will help VSA to change lives in Aberdeen.”
VSA is now looking to take things to the next level in 2020, announcing that it will be recruiting for a team of fundraisers to trek Kilimanjaro.
VSA’s director of external relations Jennifer Mitchell said: “We are so proud of our Inca Trek team for their effort, commitment and sheer will to complete the challenge while raising funds for our new £3.2m mental wellbeing facility.
“Given the success, we are delighted to offer a once in a lifetime opportunity to trek Kilimanjaro, the highest freestanding mountain in the world.”
Gordon Edwards, VSA’s director of finance, said: “It was a fantastic experience, learning about the history and culture of the Inca people and Machu Picchu, along with the incredible scenery.
“The second day of the trek was the hardest, with a very steep climb up to Dead Woman’s Pass at 4,200 metres (13,800 feet) and a challenging descent down the other side.
“It was an unforgettable experience with everyone supporting each other through the highs and lows to finish the challenge together.”
VSA, which celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2020, has been part of the city’s fabric since 1870 and has continually evolved to meet the changing needs of the people of the north-east.
For more information about the Kilimanjaro trek or VSA’s Changing Lives Campaign, please visit: www.vsa.org.uk