By Kelly Wickham
A firefighter from East Wittering is preparing to endure temperatures of almost -40 as he embarks on a trek up the world’s highest mountain – all in aid of the Fire Fighters Charity.
Steve Pearce is part of a team of 14 firefighters from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service who will set off on the climb of a lifetime to Everest Base Camp on Saturday.
After reaching the camp, which is 17,600ft above sea level, they will continue onwards into Nepal to Kalapathar.
As well as serving as watch manager in charge of Green Watch with Hampshire FRS at their station in Cosham, Steve also serves as retained (on-call) watch commander for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service at East Wittering Fire Station.
The trip marks the culmination of a year of fundraising efforts, including car washes, station quizzes and race nights, as well as running and collecting money during the Great South Run.
Earlier in the year, Steve and fellow teammate Neil “Penny” Lane completed a 15,000ft skydive to add to their fundraising efforts.
Steve said: “We have self-funded all of these events so have not taken a penny raised throughout the year, ensuring everything we have collected has actually gone to the charity.
“Obviously we are still on-going with the fundraising and we are hoping to continue this even as we are trekking. To date we have managed to raise somewhere in the region of £15,000.
“It is a two-week expedition with a nine-day ascent from Lukla Airport in the Himalayas – which is the highest airport in the world and classed as the most dangerous, then a three-day descent back down from Kalapathar to Lukla.
“We leave on Saturday after a long build up and we have all worked very hard fitness-wise to make sure we are fully prepared for what lies ahead. I just hope that it all pays off and that we raise a nice amount of money for the Fire Fighters Charity in the process!”
Chief fire officer Sabrina Cohen-Hatton said: “The determination and dedication this team of firefighters has demonstrated already in just preparing for such an expedition is incredible.
“When you consider how much money they have raised for such a worthwhile cause as well, it really is remarkable.
“The Fire Fighters Charity is such a valuable cause, and has provided a real lifeline to many firefighters over the years. The fundraising efforts of these inspirational firefighters will ensure they are able to continue to offer support to firefighters up and down the country.
“We wish them every success as they embark on this once in a lifetime adventure.”
You can support Steve’s efforts by donating online here: justgiving.com/fundraising/neil-lane-steve-pearce