Vets battle through the elements to make their voices known on three peaks challenge for mental health

Veterinary practitioners from all over came together last weekend to take on the National Three Peaks Challenge to raise more awareness and £3,500 for a mental health charity.

By Emma Downey
Friday, 29th July 2022, 3:45 pm

Dusting off their walking boots, Veterinary Voices Hiking Group set off on the challenge in aid of Vetlife - a veterinary mental health charity which supports those in the profession.

With more than 1,000 members, the aim is to get the profession walking and talking, facilitating local and national network links, forge friendships and connections to allow veterinary professionals to have a better support system around them.

Co-founders Paul Horwood and Robyn Lowe, a veterinary surgeon and registered veterinary nurse, from Farington Moss, Lancashire, guided the group across Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon.

Vet Robyn Lowe, at Vets4Pets, Wigan, has completed the Three Peaks challenge to raise funds and awareness of veterinary mental health charity Vet Life, pictured with pet dog Daisy, who climbed Snowdon with her

The team of 11 started at Ben Nevis and then drove overnight to Scafell where they enjoyed a moonlit hike, guided by their head torches to the summit.

The determined team then travelled to the Snowdonia mountain range and made for the summit of Snowdon in horrendous conditions including persistent horizontal rain and high winds.

No stranger to loss due to mental health issues Robyn, who works at Vets4Pets in Wigan, said: "Unfortunately, in veterinary medicine in the UK the suicide rate of veterinary professionals is four times higher than the general public.

"This is why we carried out the hike to raise money for the Vetlife charity.

Veterinary Voices Hiking Group set off on the challenge in aid of Vetlife - a mental health charity to help those in the profession

"I have lost a friend who was a vet to suicide and know numerous others who have also lost their friend and colleagues. It is incredibly difficult.

"I don't know a veterinary professional who hasn’t been affected by mental health issues as they have endless empathy and care so deeply for the animals they advocate for. They are faced daily with tough emotional, ethical and moral decisions.

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"The hiking group was set up because I saw that getting outside is not only good for physical and mental health but walking and events are great for making friends and helping with local and national connections and support networks.

The hiking team

"I am also very conscious about loneliness in the profession which may sound unusual as we are busy and surrounded by people and animals but can be a huge issue."

Robyn, who informs "there are so many aspects" she loves about her job, clearly takes her work home with her, having a dog, two rescue guinea pigs and two rescue rabbits.

She added: "I foster wildlife and kittens regularly. At the moment I have a hedgehog who was brought in with heatstroke and her five young hoglets with me while she recovers from her illness.

"I also have a daughter who is three - life is very busy!"

On the move

"If I am honest, I didn't train for the hike as I am extraordinarily busy with work and in general have a fairly good level of fitness!"

Asked if any more fundraisers were on the ‘horizon’, Robyn added: "We do many events to raise money! We have trekked the Snowdonia way and also braved storm Eunice for a wellness walk."

"We plan to do the Herriot way in October with a large group of vets and veterinary nurses and will fundraise for this too."

If you would like to join the hiking group CLICK HERE.

If you would like to make a donation CLICK HERE.