IT teams rise to the Three Peaks Challenge for CARE International

In superb summer weather, eight teams took part in this year's CARE International UK/Computer Weekly Three Peaks Challenge at the weekend.

In superb summer weather, eight teams took part in this year's CARE International UK/Computer Weekly Three Peaks Challenge at the weekend.

The event, in which teams attempt to climb the UK's three biggest peaks - Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon - in 24 hours, raised a total of £50,000, with 91p in every pound raised going directly to the charity's international aid and anti-poverty projects.


Unfortunately, after tackling Ben Nevis and Scafell Pike, the final leg of the challenge up Snowdon was affected by a major accident on the M6. But the two-hour delay did at least give the tired teams an opportunity to have a nap on the way to north Wales.

Helping families in warzones

CARE International is looking to focus on a number of areas in the coming year. A a major one will be to pressure governments via the United Nations to do more to help women and children in warzones.

The initiative is fuelled by UN resolution 1820 which covers this area, and the UN secretary general has to report back to UN members how the resolution is being implemented this summer. CARE has a staff member in New York to encourage members to do more to help the women and children who are victims of rape and other violence in warzones.

Lee Webster, the new CARE campaigns manager, said, "We want to see more female peacekeepers to help stop the violence against women and children. In wartime, violence becomes more a part of how society works, and there is a high level of impunity in a warzone when it comes to rape."

Unfortunately, violence against women and children continues after a war finishes, she said, so CARE's efforts are also focused on the aftermath of a war. Countries CARE already focuses on in this area include the Congo and Afghanistan.

CARE's online profile

Webster said the organisation is building up its IT and online systems to aid projects. Targeted e-mail campaigns, social networks, Twitter and YouTube are used by the charity. It has 2,000 Facebook friends and 200 Twitter followers, said Webster.

The charity's profile was also widened recently after a blog written by one of its workers in strife-torn Gaza City was followed avidly around the world.

Webster said CARE is now on the look-out for well-connected IT people who can help with existing and future campaigning efforts.

Rising to the challenge

The teams that took part in the Three Peaks Challenge at the weekend certainly did their bit.

IT training firm QA's team was first to complete the challenge – in 23 hours, 18 minutes (pictured above as they reached the finish line). It hoped to raise about £4,500 as a result. The firm's head office is in Slough, but QA's challenge team, which consisted of four sales people and two service delivery managers, were from the Leeds site.

QA team member Tracy Issott was using the challenge as part of her training to run a 150-mile marathon across part of the Sahara Desert.

She said, "I am doing the event in 2011 in Morocco, and this event is a nice little taster to what I will face there."

Issott added, "It’s been brilliant, even better than we thought it would be. We’re definitely glad we did it and we’ve raised valuable funds for CARE so we’re very pleased with ourselves.”

The second team to reach the peak of Snowdon was housing association Midland Heart, despite having sustained two major injuries.

Deployment manager Lee Smart had to pull out of the Snowdon hike after his knee gave way coming down Ben Nevis. Admirably, Smart managed to get half way up Scafell Pike before giving in to the pain.

The team was also keen to put a Hollywood gloss on the efforts of technical specialist Simon Smith. He suffered a knee injury on Scafell Pike, but was determined to take it with him up Snowdon.

Smith said, "We did Ben Nevis in 4.57 hours when the target is 5.5 hours, so if we hadn't had these injuries we may well have been in the lead. We might be able to sell the film rights for our heroic struggle though, with Tom Cruise playing me [although Smith is about a foot taller]."

The team that won the award for Top Fundraisers was Midland Heart, which raised a fantastic £7,500 for CARE.

Option Systems, a provider of software for leading clothing and footwear importers and distributors, also saw one of its team members succumb to a knee injury, which ruled it out of the Snowdon jaunt.

Bill Wonders, IT consultant at Option Systems, said, "Coming down Scafell, my knee gave way. The rocky surface was just too much for it."

Leicester-based Option Systems also boasted the "Chilli Queen" and the "Midge Queen" in its ranks. After Ben Nevis, office manager Emily Wills cooked a huge chilli using the firm's mobile kitchen, and members from all the teams were invited to tuck in.

While climbing Scafell, Option's team was encouraged to try even harder, with the promise of a huge pile of sausage and bacon sandwiches cooked by Wills. This is a team that marches on its stomach.

On the down side, Option's Midge Queen Vikki Whitemore was covered head to toe in bites after coming down Ben Nevis during the night. One team member admitted, "We used her as a sacrifical lamb. She went ahead for the midges, so we were okay following her."

The Option Systems team received plenty of free clothing and kit from customers such as Canterbury, Ben Sherman, Kangol, Hi-Tec and Nike. Option managing director Tony Parkinson said, "We have also got a signed Martin Johnson (England Rugby Union Manager) England training shirt to raffle in July, which should bring our total up."

Parkinson said the firm was aiming to raise a total of £6,000 from the challenge for CARE International.

The team from the Rugby Football Union not only succeeded in the challenge, despite having some reservations about their fitness level, but also managed to keep a phlog (phone blog) throughout the event. Their phlog updates are all available online.

Three Peaks Challenge participants 
 Option Systems
 Team Green Peaks
 Midland Heart
 Ixion Holdings
 Basildon & Thurrock University Hospitals

 Rugby Football Union (RFU)

Take part in next year's challenge

For those who missed out this year, the Three Peaks Challenge, supported by Computer Weekly, will take place again on 12-13 June 2010. Sign up now.

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