A teenager from Hemel Hempstead has raised money for Search and Rescue Assistance in Disasters (SARAID), by walking up and down three of the biggest mountains across the UK.
James Woodmore, 18, embarked on the National Three Peaks Challenge on Friday (July 1) alongside a team of friends, family and SARAID volunteers to honour his dad, Simon.
SARAID, which sends emergency disaster response volunteers to disasters worldwide, was a big part of James' life as Simon was a medical manager for the charity.
In September 2020, while helping people during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Simon, a paramedic, died unexpectedly.
The teenager wanted to keep the memory of his dad alive and decided to take on a year of challenges.
This ended with his gruelling climb up Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon - something that James and Simon had wanted to do together.
James said: “I wanted to do something in memory of Dad. He was deployed with SARAID a few times and went out to Nepal during that earthquake.”
He added: “The coat I was actually wearing on the three peaks was the one he went into Nepal with.”
James has learnt to cope with his dad’s death and has advice for anyone in a similar position.
He said: “I would say that if you're in this situation, let yourself feel things.”
The 18-year-old added: “It’s going to feel awful for a few days whilst you're just letting it all out. I found that talking about my Dad really helped me get through it and let myself feel the emotions.
James, who has recently completed his A-Levels, is £500 away from his £5,000 target.
To prepare for the tough 28-hour trek, James fit in gym sessions and walks around his studying schedule.
On Friday (July 1), a group of family and friends came to walk with James up Ben Nevis. He was joined by SARAID volunteers who supported him along the way.
Michelle, James’ mum said: “I must admit I felt emotional seeing at the beginning and then seeing the number of people that turned up to do it with James. The support has just been phenomenal from everybody that came and through messages as well.”
In 28 hours, James and his group battled through the rain to get up the mountains.
He said: The hardest part wasn't even the mountains. It was getting off the mini-bus at the bottom of the mountain. But you get dragged up by your whole team.”
James added: "As much as it is definitely a physical challenge. The only reason it becomes one of the hardest challenges to do is the mental challenge behind it.”
Despite just finishing his year of difficult challenges, James is determined to start an annual event.
He said: “Every year around the anniversary of Dad's death, we would have a challenge. We will be bringing family and friends together to do a walk somewhere beautiful in the country because he loved hiking.”
Following in his dad’s footsteps, James plans to join SARAID: “Hopefully I get deployed them to help people across the world because I've grown up in a house where everyone wants to help people.”
People can donate to the fundraising page here.