Intrepid Stars Appeal Trekkers Finally Ready to Set Off for Petra

This week 35 local people will be taking part in the fourth fundraising trek for the Stars Appeal, Salisbury Hospital’s charity.

Even before they set off, this trek has been the most challenging yet. 

Many of the trekkers signed up just after the charity’s 2019 Great Wall of China trek, which raised over £130,000 for projects supporting patients and staff in Salisbury District Hospital. 

They’ve patiently waited nearly three years, after the original date in 2021 had to be changed because of Covid. So although they’ve had longer to get fit and get to know their fellow trekkers, they’ve also had the challenge of raising funds for the Stars Appeal in very difficult times. 

Now they’ve finally got the go ahead.  

On Saturday 23 April they’ll be heading for Jordan, where they’ll brave long days trekking through desert in up to 30C, nights in simple camps at freezing temperatures with only basic facilities, and (most challenging for some) very little contact with home. Their reward will be exploring the ancient city of Petra, one of the modern wonders of the world. 

Hospital staff, patients and other supporters, united by their wish to support their local hospital, are taking on this triple challenge of fundraising, getting fit and trekking.  

They include: 

•            Local business people Derek Gibbens of AFH Wealth Management, Wilton, and Robbie Newton of Stonehenge Plumbing and Heating in Durrington, both on their fourth fundraising trek for the Stars Appeal, and Personnel Placements’ Lynne Rose, from West Grimstead, on her second trek. 

•            Fordingbridge mother and daughter Jo and Chloe Jarvis who want to support the work they’ve seen first-hand while working at Salisbury Hospital. 

•            Eye consultant Roger Humphry, from Salisbury, fundraising in recognition of the state-of-the-art equipment the Stars Appeal has funded for the Eye Department. 

•            Brothers Andy and Dave Key, from Farley, trekking in memory of their mother who was a midwife. 

•            Current and former members of the Maternity team at Salisbury Hospital, including Elvie Pearson from Shaftesbury; Jen Stagg from Salisbury; Stacey Burton from Durrington and Corinne Whillock from Wilton. 

•            Kerry Fairclough, from Alderholt, was inspired to trek after helping to create the Stars Appeal’s website for Upper Woodford-based design agency Unstuck Design. The agency has kindly designed the trekkers t-shirts, which have been produced thanks to sponsorship from Wilton metal fabricators Ozweld.  

•            Patients who’ve benefited from equipment and projects funded by the Stars Appeal including cancer patients Colin Ford and Heidi Burrows (both from Salisbury).  

While it’s too early to say how much these resilient trekkers have raised, it’s certain to be in the tens of thousands of pounds, all of which will go to help hundreds of patients at Salisbury District Hospital and support the NHS staff who care for them. You can find out more about the projects the trekkers are supporting at https://starsappeal.org/what-were-fundraising-for/ 

The trek is organised for the Stars Appeal by Salisbury-based adventure travel experts Discover Adventure. Every trekker has pledged to raise at least £1650 for the Stars Appeal. 

Colin’s story 

Colin Ford has lived all his life in Wilton and Salisbury. He’s a retired policeman and has already raised more than £5,500 for the Stars Appeal through donations from friends, former colleagues, golf buddies and family, and by selling the Christmas sleighs he makes. 

He says, “In February 2011, aged 50, I was diagnosed as having prostate cancer. I had surgery and all was well. Then in March 2016, it was discovered that I had a cancer in my left ureter (the tube along which fluids pass from the kidneys to the bladder) and had my left kidney together with the ureter removed to get rid of all signs of the cancer. Then that October, following a routine colonoscopy, I was devastated to be told that they had found that I had bowel cancer. Once again I had surgery, followed by a course of chemotherapy, and spent some time in the Pembroke Suite. 

More than five years on from the last surgery, I am well and clear of cancer. All my surgeries, treatment, scans and check-ups have been carried out at Salisbury District Hospital. The consultants, surgeons and everyone concerned with my care have undoubtedly saved my life on at least three occasions. I owe my life to them all and want to give something back. I am trekking to raise money for the Stars Appeal so that they can continue to help the hospital provide the best care for the people in our community as they did and continue to do so for me.” 

 

Heidi’s story 

Dr Heidi Burrows, from Salisbury, works as a Regulatory and Quality Director for a feed additive company based in Marlborough.  

She says, “Since being diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2018 I have spent a lot of time in various departments at Salisbury District Hospital. Alongside the great care that I received, I was also very grateful for the ‘extras’ that were supported by the Stars Appeal – from the Breast Unit itself and the extra CT scanner to the free wi-fi that I took great advantage of! 

Having a dedicated breast unit meant that all the tests I needed could be done in the same place and reduce the time of waiting for results, and that was such a relief. The extras provided by the Stars Appeal in the Pembroke Suite during my regular visits really helped me. The free wi-fi meant I could work, read the news or watch a film while having chemotherapy, the free headscarf meant I could try different ways to cover my bald head and the sandwiches and tea kept me going! I am currently showing no evidence of disease – you are never ‘cured’.

While going through treatment I hung onto the thought of reaching 50, and afterwards, I was determined to get fit and more active. Then I heard about the trek to Petra and it seemed to be made for me – it was a month before my 50th birthday, would give me a focus to keep fit and meant I could give back to the hospital. The day I signed up I met a couple of friends and told them – and now they are coming as well! We have already raised over £11,000 between us, which includes my husband running his first-ever marathon to support us.” 

Heidi will be setting off on the trek on the fourth anniversary of the start of her chemotherapy. 

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