A group of intrepid trekkers has returned from tackling the Great Wall of China to raise money for Essex & Herts Air Ambulance (EHAAT).

The 23 EHAAT supporters spent five days on the ‘Walk the Great Wall’ trek covering 36 kilometres and thousands of steps along sections of the world-famous landmark. In doing so they raised an incredible £46,000, enough to fund 21 potentially life-saving missions. As well as seeing the Wall for themselves, the group were also able to help with repairs to the Wall and experience the fascinating culture of China.

Caroline Green, a bereavement officer at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage thoroughly enjoyed taking part, even though she was hesitant at first about signing up.

I heard it advertised on the radio and thought it sounded amazing. By last Christmas Id talked myself into it - especially when I told my friends and family I was doing it, there was no going back!

Ive seen the air ambulance land next to the hospital, and one of my friends spent some time working as a medic on the helicopter, so I knew what amazing work it does.

I wanted to challenge myself and do something for a local charity. It was an opportunity to see one of the great wonders of the world, and visit a country I wouldnt have gone to by myself.

Everyone in the group was really supportive. On the first day I was getting a bit out of breath as we got to the top of a steep section, but other people came back to make sure I was ok. Throughout the trek the whole group spurred each other on.

For me the highlight was the second day, walking along some of the unrestored sections of the wall. The path was very gravelly and there were some steep sections with sheer slopes on either side, but the views were incredible. You really felt you were in the middle of nowhere, where not many people get to go.

That was quite a hard day of walking but at the end we all got together and let our hair down in the hotel bar, which was a brilliant end to the day. On the last day of trekking we each got to lay a brick on the Great Wall as part of the restoration which was a real privilege.

My sponsors were really generous and because I funded the trip myself, so every penny I raised will go straight to the charity, which is really pleasing.”

Tony Stone, one of the Charity’s critical care paramedics, who took part, says it was everything he had hoped for and more.

He explains, “To go as the Charity representative was a brilliant opportunity. The group had fundraised a phenomenal amount for EHAAT. It really was a privilege to go with them and to spend time talking about what the Charity does and let them know how the money they have raised will be spent.

“The Great Wall is incredibly impressive, vast and simply amazing. I remember getting onto it at the start of the first day and the views were just phenomenal. The group bonded really well and some strong friendships were made during the week, which was brilliant. On the last day we all finished together, which was a really special moment.”

Sabi Stafford, Fundraising Manager at EHAAT says, “We were delighted to be able to offer supporters the chance to see this iconic landmark first-hand while raising money for their local life-saving charity.

“Those who took part have made new friends, collected memories that will last a lifetime and have the satisfaction of helping an amazing cause. Next year we will be organising a very different but equally special trek across part of the Sahara.”

EHAAT’s Sahara trek takes place from 5th to 10th November 2020. Participants will get a chance to witness some amazing landscapes, experience the stunning stars in the night sky and enjoy traditional Berber cuisine.

An information evening, which is free to attend, will be held at the Charity’s North Weald airbase on November 13th. To register for this, email trek@ehaat.org or call 0345 5040 055. To sign up for the trek, visit ehaat.org/trek