Ontic staff climb mountains to raise almost £14k for Sue Ryder hospice in Cheltenham

The Ontic team pushing themselves to the limit at Crib Goch at Llanberis
The Ontic team pushing themselves to the limit at Crib Goch

Staff from Cheltenham aerospace firm Ontic have competed a gruelling charity challenge for Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice to scale the height of 15 mountains over 3,000 feet in Wales – all within the space of 24 hours without any transport.

Attempting to cover 24 miles on foot between them, the 16 staff with six support crew from legacy aerospace firm, Ontic, raised a staggering £13,923.

The photograph is of the Ontic team at Crib Goch, Llanberis in North Wales. Crib Goch is inherently a very dangerous place. Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team say Crib Goch is “extremely dangerous and should not be attempted by novice walkers”. The main danger is slipping, falling or (in high wind) being blown off the steep and narrow parts of the ridge.

The walk is officially known as ‘The 14 Peaks’ but actually takes in 15 Welsh peaks, starting at Pen-Y-Pass at the base of Snowdown and finishing at Foel Fras.

Ali Fallon, Production Support Engineer at Ontic, helped to organise the charity challenge. He said, “Ontic has a really strong CSR programme and we have completed many events pre-Covid to raise funds for local charities. For our first charity challenge since the outbreak we wanted to support a local charity that has done so much to be there for the local community during the pandemic.

“Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice does amazing things for the Gloucestershire community and that support continued during the pandemic, despite the difficulties everyone faced. This really emphasised to us the importance of what Sue Ryder does and the impact their support has for many families.”

The Ontic team started out early in the morning – obscuring the views of the 800m drop from the ridgelineFollowing a sponsored ‘Three Peaks’ charity challenge in 2019 the Ontic team wanted to continue climbing mountains too.

“When you’re out on the mountains you get a real bug for it,” added Ali. “But we knew that we had to really step it up to pick another challenge which people would be inspired to support and donate to.”

“We discussed the Welsh 3000s challenge and we knew it was something that would really push us. We have a big facility in Cleeve and during the pandemic some staff have been working on site while others have been working at home. We wanted a challenge that would bring the team back together again, promote Ontic’s values and provide us with a real feeling of success.”

“The Welsh 3000s really challenged us and saw many of our staff break down their own personal barriers. The challenge really brought the team together too – the cohesiveness of pulling together mentally and physically was such a great feeling.”

Andy Kilby, PMO Supply Chain Lead at Ontic was one of the staff taking on the challenge. He said it was a “great opportunity to take on a challenge and raise funds for a great cause.”

Alongside him was Eilidh Bryers, Head of Business Performance at Ontic, who said “It’s important to challenge your limits. Not just to become the best version of yourself but to inspire others to do the same.”

The team concluded their challenge attempt on the weekend of 17th September, as a result of the changeable conditions they had to withdraw the teams from the mountains at the second checkpoint in the Ogwen Valley.

“The challenge was really tough,” shares Ali. “We were at the mercy of the conditions in the mountains – up there on the ridgelines you are completely surrounded by the elements. You can’t hide from the wind and rain you just have to keep pushing”.

“At the start we had to complete a walk across a ridge called Crib Goch at 900m elevation with a sheer drop each side. Luckily we chose to complete this at 4am in the morning. We were far happier in the dark as we didn’t have to see the drop down! It was a huge personal achievement for a lot of us completing that particular stretch.”

Throughout their gruelling challenge the walkers were cared for by a support team of six Ontic colleagues who set up at check points to cook food, fill up water bottles and made sure blisters were all taped up.

“The support team were amazing. They helped us get back in one piece,” said Ali. “We’d also like to thank Ontic for making the challenge possible.

“Importantly we’d like to share our huge thanks to our event corporate sponsors; AE Smith Engineering, Phoenix Systems, Princeps and Transaero and to all customers, suppliers, clients and family and friends who have donated too. We had originally set out to raise £5,000 and by the end of our challenge we have raised a staggering £13,923.”

“We’re thrilled to have raised so much for Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice and to have completed such an amazing challenge. It’s a challenge you don’t appreciate until you attempt it. Then you really realise what you have got yourself in for and just what you have accomplished.”