In June 2010, Vicki Smith from Amble, and 12 volunteers took on the challenge of a lifetime to trek and cycle through Transylvania in Romania for charity in aid of St Oswalds Hospice.
The trip consisted of 9 days, mixing trekking in the Transylvanian Alps, cycling through Romanian villages and eventually ending up in Brasov working and helping out at the Casa Sperantei Hospice. It was a truly tough challenge but with such a great team of people working together it was a huge success. Each volunteer had to raise a minimum of £2400 which is vital funds for St Oswalds Hospice who provides hospice care for adults, young people and children from across the region including Northumberland, Tyne & Wear and North Durham.
Days 1 and 2 of the challenge. Arriving in Romania we travelled by bus into the very heart of Fagaras Mountains. Next day, after a 9 hour walk we reached Podragu Hut (Alt 2050m), staying overnight with basic facilities and very cold.
Day 3, We carried on along the ridge trail to reach the highest peak in Romania: Moldoveanu Peak (2544m). The Fagaras Mountains are rough and rugged with some fascinating place names such as “Three Steps From Death” and “The Evil Valley”. After 13 hours trekking, exhausted, we finally arrived at the Simbata Hut to stay overnight.
Day 4, We take a 3 hour descent to Sambata Monastery. Today we cycled 55 miles, through to Sighisoara, which is a UNESCO site. The best preserved medieval town continuously inhabited. It rained and rained today.
Day 5, Today was the longest day of the cycle, travelling 60 miles ending up in Brasov. This was a tough day for everyone. At the end of the day we were able to see Bran Castle, the setting of the famous Dracula Movie.
Days 6-8, Today we begin our project work at Casa Sperantei, the House of Hope which is a non-governmental organisation. It specialises in care for terminally ill patients. I worked in the Day Centre with the children, along with Jennie Evans and Barbara Beaney. Siobhan Beaney was able to do physiotherapy sessions and aerobic classes.
Nicky Hodgson and Stu Franklin, both architects, redesigned their garden which has become inaccessible to patients along with help from Lexi Quinton. Steve Clark and Dave Egdell did some DIY and also Fire Safety Training Workshops. Onkar Dhanoya, a dentist, did work on the patients dental care, Al Clarkson was the chef, Val Forster and Berenice Groves worked in the Adult Patient Ward and Barbara Conners-Fowler worked with the Social Workers at the hospice.
The total raised for St Oswald’s Hospice was a massive £35,000. I would like to say a HUGE thank you to all those that sponsored me especially the local businesses in Amble who donated raffle prizes and Pier 81 where I hosted a fund raising event. Also a big thank you to all my family and friends who have supported me and helped me reach my target.