Preston woman takes on Great Wall of China in aid of Lostock Hall hospice that cares for her dad

A Preston woman has trekked the Great Wall of China to raise funds for a Lostock Hall hospice that cares for her dad.

By Laura Longworth
Monday, 18th November 2019, 2:01 pm
Some of Team St Catherine's celebrating after completing their Great Wall of China challenge.
Some of Team St Catherine's celebrating after completing their Great Wall of China challenge.

Tricia Hall joined a team of 26 people taking on the feat in aid of St Catherine's Hospice last month.

She decided to support the charity after becoming a full-time carer to her 90-year-old parents, who have both suffered a stroke. The charity began giving her dad 24-hour high-level care at home in November last year, as well as helping Tricia, her mum and their own carers.

The 54-year-old said: "It has meant a great deal to me to be able to help contribute to St Catherine's. The staff and volunteers go above and beyond, either in person or on the phone. It can be quite isolating at times but St Catherine's took all my stress and worry away. For this alone I will be forever grateful to them."

Tricia has raised 5,300 by trekking the Great Wall of China.

Although it had been a long time since Tricia had done anything physical, she threw herself into training in January by walking up Pendle Hill several times and completing challenges like the Yorkshire Three Peaks and Winter Hill in Chorley.

Her training was designed to prepare her for walking different sections of the Great Wall of China, which is particularly difficult because of uneven steps, some of which are around 4ft high.

"The trek was simply the most difficult physical and emotional thing I have ever done in my life. Several times I struggled, and a fear of heights didn't help. Nothing prepares you for it mentally or physically.," she said.

But in her weakest moments she found her dad's words reverberating around her head and giving her the strength to carry on.

Tricia and Team St Catherine at the top of the Great Wall's Heavenly Ladder.

"What surprised me when I thought I was empty mentally and physically was that I found my dad's old saying going around in my head, 'If you start something, you complete it.'

"This kept me going on the most difficult days and I found renewed energy."

Tricia, who was also encouraged by the other fund-raisers completing the walk, added: "A bunch of strangers came together and left as friends. Everyone at some point had a low day or moment but when this happened, this bunch of lovely strangers bonded together to help each other overcome the difficulties.

"It's hard to explain without being there. I personally have never experienced anything like it before."

Tricia with trek leader Michael on the first-day training walk.

On top of new friendships, Tricia was given another reward along the way as she was able to make a tribute to her parents when helping to restore part of the wall.

"This was a very emotional day as we got to leave a lasting memento of loved ones," she said.

The hard work paid off, with Tricia raising £5,300, nearly double her target, while the whole team has amassed more than £35,000.

Speaking about the lessons she has learned during the fund-raiser, she added: "The challenge has given me the confidence to do things that are out of my comfort zone.

Tricia (middle) with Margaret Newsham and Doreen Green, retired nurses who worked for St Catherine's Hospice.

"It has opened me up a love of walking that I had forgotten about and made me realise that people are extremely generous, particularly to myself, as I received donations from random strangers for my fund-raising page and events. It has humbled me.

"It has also made me stronger mentally. It has made me aware of how lucky I am to have met a great bunch of people that under normal circumstances I wouldn't have."

Commenting on the support from the community, she added: "I have been blown away by people's kindness to me.

"I got sponsorship for T-shirts from people I know who have companies. All didn't hesitate to help. Other companies gave away products to be used at events. Complete strangers sent me stuff through the post and messaged me with offers of donations for my events.

"It has been the most rewarding experience of my life doing it all.

"Communities that I don't live in got behind me 100%, which at times made me very emotional. The power of social media platforms to reach all these people has been invaluable."

Walkers on a part of the wall that needs restoring.

To support Tricia's voluntary work, check out her activities on Facebook by searching for Fundraising for St Catherine's Hospice Lostock Hall.

Sharon Slattery, who works in St Catherine's finance department, jumping for joy after completing the Great Wall of China challenge.
Tricia with Charlotte Sumner and Steve Williams, who she completed training walks with.