Saddleworth walkers tackle Iceland trek for Francis House hospice

NINE walkers from Saddleworth and Oldham are joining sixteen others for a spectacular five-day trek across the Icelandic Mountains to raise funds for Francis House Children’s Hospice.

Monica Thomas (pictured fourth from left) with fellow trekkers including Francis House CEO, David Ireland (right) on a training walks in the Cheshire Three Peaks (Picture courtesy of Francis House)

The team set off on Sunday, September 3 from Manchester to Reykjavik and then took an internal flight to Egilsstaðir, in the North East of Iceland.

Francis House CEO, David Ireland from Dobcross and his niece Bethany Sharp from Oldham are two of the walkers taking part.

They are joined by Helen Gorton, an event and stage manager from Saddleworth, Gill McCulley from Greenfield, and retired GP and experienced climber Andrew Taylor, 69, from Grasscroft.

And the oldest participant is Monica Thomas, 73, from Delph, who was motivated to join the trek after attending an open day at the Didsbury based hospice.

“I was so impressed by the fantastic work they do, it had a tremendous effect on me so I really wanted to support the cause,” she said.

After suffering a bad accident in 2016, Monica never expected to be able to compete in such a strenuous event but after an unexpectedly speedy recovery she decided to go for the challenge.

In the lead up to the trek, the hospice team has supported the trekkers through a number of training walks in Saddleworth as well completing the Cheshire Three Peaks challenge.

“The training walks have been absolutely fabulous,” said Monica. “We’ve been pushed and we’ve been pulled in all weathers, but it’s been great practice.”

Iceland trekkers on a training walk in Saddleworth (Picture courtesy of Gill McCulley)

The challenge involves five days of hiking through the magnificent landscapes of mountains and small bays of the North East, finishing with a free day to explore Reykjavik.

Each day follows old trails between isolated coves and fjords over colourful hills and down green valleys alongside the North Atlantic Ocean, with accommodation in heated mountain huts.

Gill, who has already raised more than £1,000 in sponsorship, said: “Last year I did a 100km non-stop charity walk for Alzheimer’s Research UK in Northumberland. This year I’m heading a bit further afield!

“As I’m going without wifi, heated hair appliances and sleeping in ‘huts’ for a week I’d really appreciate if you could help me achieve my sponsorship target of £1,200!”

Francis House Children’s Hospice provides respite care for children and young people with life-limiting conditions and their families. Find out more online:

To support Gill and make a donation, visit:


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