Monday, April 28, 2014

Snowdon Charity Trek

"Friends are as companions on a journey who ought to aid each other to persevere in the road to a happier life." - Pythagoras

Having found myself with free weekends I have decided to enjoy a few hobbies, spend time catching up with earth beings and just relax generally. 

My dear father recently underwent a cataract op at Queen's Hospital and I have witnessed at first hand the new lease if life it has given him. Last Saturday I joined a band of complete nutters to trek Mount Snowdon and after praying Fajr at Jamiatul Ummah we set off for a twenty four hour journey to scale the beautiful sky high peaks.

Mount Snowdon is located in the Snowdonia national Park and is the highest mountain in Wales, at an altitude of 1,085 metres (3,560 ft) above sea level, and the highest point in the British Isles outside the Scottish Highlands.

We were raising funds and awareness for cataract operations in developing nations. I had been really nervous in the run up to the trek. A football Achilles injury in January had seriously curtailed my mobility. I had been too scared to return to the GP to discuss my tests and thus far I have avoided the marvellous Dr Gupta as I feared what he would have to say would curtail my plans. Since I would not be joining the Dancing on Ice bandwagon I decided to take a leisurely uphill stroll in enchanting Snowdonia. 

My target was to fund 300 operations and I had reached my quota easily thanks to the exceptional support of my brothers and sisters, family, friends, and Hunter & Bloomfield. 

My chief sponsors were A Class Events and Dilwara and Alesha had donated, arranged my charity dinner and even bought a personalised "Emdad" cake. These classy ladies have been operating less than three months but their willingness to support a charitable cause was staggeringly refreshing and inspiring.

I was the last of our team to reach the summit but I celebrated like I was the first human to have ever discovered and conquered the mountain. The team were fantastic - all fourteen of them - Hasan, Shaheed, Fokor, Saleh, Ashraf, Afazul, Shibbir, Zameer, Omar, Alhaj and Akik. My old friend Omar and Akik flanked me along the path, kept me talking, hydrated, energised and kept a close eye on my slow but sure progress across the winding pathway to the summit.

I had sworn that I would catch the steam train down if I made it up to the summit as Ben Nevis had previously taught me that the journey down and the impact of full body weight on the knees was at times unbearable. Couple that with a dodgy Achilles rupture with no full diagnosis and you have a gourmet recipe for disaster. 

Alas, there were no places on trains coming back down and after spending ten minutes fighting off a stabbing cramp – My thighs felt like they were on fire and Saleh even said it was a tactic to bring all the attention back to me – I took the decision to climb down. I must say the banter was something else. Man mountain Alhaj Khan was Iron Man personified. This diamond geezer stuck by me like super glue, guiding, cajoling, encouraging and physically supporting me in negotiating steep, tricky, slippery and acute areas. Alhaj was my very own Nigel De Jong - my minder, and I can’t thank him enough for his presence – What a legend! He told me later: “I would have had a lazy weekend had I not signed up. The scenery has been terrific and the banter so memorable. I will remember this experience with great fondness.” So will I mate. 

The bubbly Shibbir (nicknamed Capital FM) was the first to reach the summit. He told me: “I have savoured this tremendous experience with the added bonus of travelling with fourteen great personalities. I’m just glad we are all making a difference.” Shibbir’s footwear will need another blog post to explain but all I’m saying for now is he needs to be certified.

Omar enjoyed it so much he will return with his family, however he faced mixed emotions during the early stages: “I hadn’t trained at all and thirty minutes in I had some serious doubts about finishing," he said. "But the breath taking sights and the great company mixed in with sheer determination made it easy in the end.”

“We are dedicated to working with the underprivileged and we have been honoured by the presence of some huge personalities on this trip,” said Khoyrul Shaheed from Human Relief Foundation. "The experience was memorable and the banter was perfect."

The injury has held but as I type my legs are very sore from the cramp. However the feeling of satisfaction is beyond amazing. Thank you to the crew for making the trip so enjoyable. Last but not least thank you Mosh for the sticks - They were totally invaluable for my balance. 

On Holloway Road we were stopped by the long arm of the law. I despair at the standards of the boys in blue - between a battalion of officers they can't even string a proper lucid reason together for stopping you nowadays. 

A massive thank you to Jaeema Akhtar, Khoyrul Shaheed and Hasan Mueenuddin for the brilliant way they organised the logistics, not to forget the excellent food and snack spread that kept us going all the way to Wales and back. 

Right, now for that meeting with Dr Gupta.

“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything.” - Muhammad Ali

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