THE estate team boss at a luxury North Wales wedding venue has trekked to the foot of Mount Everest to raise awareness about autism which affects his young daughter.
Shane Fallon, who heads up estate maintenance for Elle R Leisure which owns Soughton Hall near Northop, Flintshire, made the seven-day slog to the mountain’s fabled South Base Camp to support the National Autism Society.
Shane’s 11-year-old daughter Tori has the condition, which affects how a person communicates with and relates to others around them, and Shane’s journey raised a total of £3,000 for the charity after it received a hefty match-funding boost from Elle R Leisure.
Sharing the hardships of the expedition to the wildest parts of Nepal with 38-year-old Shane was his assistant maintenance chief, Craig Horsfield, 43, and three other friends.
Shane said: “It took years for Tori to be diagnosed with autism and she has good and bad days.
“She has trouble processing her emotions and things which to most of us seem small, like someone just pushing her past her in a corridor, actually overwhelm her.
“But she attends a mainstream school and is doing quite well.
“I’d been planning for some time to do something really special to make more people aware of autism and that’s why myself and the others chose Everest.”
He added: “We first flew out to Kathmandu where we joined a larger group of 13 who were also making the trek on behalf of various charities.
“From there we took another smaller plane to Lukla where the airport is acknowledged as the most dangerous in the world because it’s surrounded by mountains and also has a very short runway.
“Accompanied by the mandatory tour guides and Sherpas we set out on the trail to the South Base Camp which is at an altitude of 5,364 metres, or 17,598 ft, and is the place used by climbers hoping to reach the summit of Everest by the south-east ridge.
“As the temperature can routinely drop to minus 12F and sometimes minus 20F we all had special, extra-warm clothing and other essential kit which cost about £1,000 each, so we were well prepared.
“The ascent took us seven days – five actually walking and the other two spent resting and acclimatizing to the altitude, which is the real test.
“We all had problems with sickness and headaches, which are like having a very bad hangover. At times it’s difficult to breath as there’s hardly any oxygen at that height.”
Shane said that as he and the others approached what has been called ‘the roof of the world’ they encountered some incredible views.
“As you get higher the views of the mountains and valleys are absolutely spectacular. Some of the time the clouds obscure the top of Everest but we were lucky it was clear which meant we had a great view of the peak,” he said.
“At the base camp itself there isn’t much to see as it’s very rocky and barren and there were hardly any people there but reaching it was a fantastic feeling for us all.
“I keep myself pretty fit by running, walking, swimming and scuba diving in places like Snowdonia but this was definitely the toughest thing I’ve ever done.
“Thanks to the donations of colleagues, family and friends we managed to raise £1,500 but the management at Elle R Leisure has kindly agreed to match-fund us, which means the total has now doubled to £3,000.
“It’s given me a great sense of personal achievement and the icing on the cake is that we managed to raise so much money for a charity which does so much to help people like Tori.”
Shane and his team look after all the estate maintenance for Elle R Leisure, which took over Soughton Hall, a luxury wedding and events venue, in February 2016. The family-run leisure experts also own the popular Dukes 92 in Castlefield, Manchester, the well-known restaurant chain Albert’s and another boutique wedding venue in Leeds called Woodlands.
James Ramsbottom, Managing Director of Elle R Leisure, said: “Shane and Craig deserve a massive pat on the back for undertaking and completing such a testing challenge, especially as it was for such a great cause as the National Autism Society which does such fantastic work.
“As a tribute to their achievement we as a company were delighted to double the £1,500 they’d already been pledged in sponsorship. We are all very proud of what they have achieved.”
Shane’s companion on the lofty challenge, his colleague Craig, said walking to the foot of the world’s highest peak had fulfilled a lifelong ambition for him.
“I also do quite bit to keep fit like mountain walking and biking, often with Shane, and for years I’ve been dreaming of doing this. I’m also always on the lookout for something crazy to attempt and this was it,” he said.
“It was also for a cause very close to my friend Shane’s heart, which made it all the better.
“In the past I’ve done the Three Peaks challenge – where you have to scale Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis within 24 hours – but this was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever taken on.
“Like everyone else, I suffered the effects of altitude but for me the worst thing was the cold. I was in a sleeping bag under a quilt at night but I was still freezing.
“But it was all worth it for the amazing views of Everest. I’ve seen pictures but they just don’t do it justice.
“Like Shane and the others, I had an amazing sense of achievement when I’d finished the trek and knowing it was in aid of such a good cause was brilliant.
“Also amazing was the fact that our £1,500 was doubled to £3,000 by Elle R Leisure, which is one of the benefits of working for such a good family company.”
If you would like to pledge some money to Shane and Craig, please go to Shane’s just giving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/basecampeverestforautisticsociety