As corporate partnership manager for Haven House I often encourage teams to take on a ‘challenge of a lifetime’ and raise money for our great cause.

I would often enthuse about the various adventures our fundraisers were about to embark upon and found myself equally excited and impatient to hear about their stories and memories on their successful return.  

These amazing supporters were the catalysts for taking on Mount Kilimanjaro.

How could I encourage and inspire others to fundraise with any credibility if I wasn’t able to relate to what they were about to experience?

Like many nagging ambitions, the idea found itself quite comfortably lodged in the back of my mind.

This all changed when I started working with BlackRock, a global assessment management firm. They support Children’s Hospices across London (CHaL - a consortium of five independent children hospice charities who work with life-limited and life-threatened children and their families across London). The partnership includes Haven House, Noah’s Ark, Richard House, Ellenor and Shooting Star Chase.

BlackRock is a company with a real passion for big challenges. Their annual overseas bike ride attracts over 100 people from across their offices, incorporating London, Europe, America, and Singapore.

The other big challenge of the year was trekking Mount Kilimanjaro. A team from Ladbrokes had just completed this challenge for Haven House and raised an incredible £18,000. I remember seeing their summit pictures and lingering over them for a little longer than usual.

I knew instantly this was the challenge for me.

Once we'd agreed to take a team overseas I was one of the first people to sign up and couldn’t wait for it to arrive. Of course I had moments of self doubt. Was I really going to travel halfway round the world with a group of people I’d never met to climb the highest free standing mountain in the world?!

As the set-off date approached I took real comfort in chatting with other people taking on challenges for CHaL. Their enthusiasm inspired me and I threw myself into my training and fundraising.

Our BlackRock team were made up of people from across the firm and were a fantastic bunch of individuals. Although the trek was gruelling, there was a real sense of camaraderie amongst the group and everyone looked out for each other.

The scenery on the mountain was spectacular and the landscape changes from thick rainforest to a barren landscape which makes you feel like you’re walking on the surface of the moon. As you go higher the landscape changes again and the temperature significantly drops.

On the last day of the trek you are woken at midnight and make your ascent through the early hours. Temperatures drop to -10 and your steps become harder and heavier as the oxygen becomes thinner.

Incredibly, 26 out of our 28 strong team made it to the top of the mountain. People were happy they’d made it but even more proud that they’d made it for children's hospices in London. 

Would I do it all again I hear you ask? Absolutely! 

I’ve been able to support the charity I love and be part of an inspiring event which raised nearly £60,000 for Children’s Hospices across London.

I’ve come away with some amazing memories and met people I’ll be life-long friends with.

Has Rachel's story inspired you to take on a challenge for Haven House? Visit our challenge event pages to find the right event for you