South Central Ambulance Service Chief Executive joins 'ultimate challenge' to raise money for the ambulance staff charity
Completing the fastest zipline in the world and climbing Mount Snowdon at night might not be everyone's idea of fun, but for Anna Parry, Kerry Gulliver, Tracy Nicholls and Will Hancock, they are hoping there will be plenty of laughs along the way when they take part in the tough Ultimate Fundraising Challenge to raise money for The Ambulance Service Charity - TASC - on 17 July, 2021.
Will, has been joined by Anna, who is the Deputy Managing Director of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE), Kerry, the Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development at East Midlands Ambulance Service, and Tracy, the CEO of the College of Paramedics, and they have decided to team up to raise £5,000 for TASC which helps care for the mental, physical and financial wellbeing of the UK's ambulance community.
Tracey said: "When I came up with this challenge it honestly seemed like a good idea in my head but now that it's just over three months away the thought of the zip wire is absolutely terrifying me.
"It doesn't help that my fitness isn't the best.
"I walk my dogs a couple of miles a day but I'm really going to have to do more than that if I have any hope of completing this challenge. That's why I'm keen to hear from any kind ambulance folk who can give me any good tips or advice on how best to train."
She added: "To say this challenge is outside the norm for me is an understatement but I'm determined to see it through and raise as much money as we can.
"I have been a lifelong member of the ambulance family and have lost friends and colleagues during the pandemic. But more than that, there seems to be literally nowhere else for our profession to go when they need help, except for TASC. How can you do a job like this, at a time like this, and not be affected?
"TASC do an amazing job at helping but I know how fragile funding streams can be, so anything we can do to assist is important."
On 17 July, the foursome will step out of their comfort zones to take on Velocity, the fastest zipline in the world. Travelling at speeds of over 100mph, this adrenalin-inducing challenge has been described as the 'nearest thing to flying' as participants soar over Penrhyn Quarry and get to experience spectacular views of the North Wales coastline and beyond.
But the excitement doesn't end there. Later that evening, they will be lacing up their walking boots, turning on their torches and trekking up 3560ft to the top of Mount Snowdon - the highest mountain in England and Wales - in a bid to raise much-needed funds for TASC.
Anna Parry said: "I've actually climbed Snowdonia before but in daylight. For me, the toughest part of this challenge is going to be facing my fear - the zip wire. The closest I've ever come to anything like this is when I did a tandem sky-dive in Australia in my 20s which I loved....until my parachute failed to open. Fortunately, the reserve did!
"I'm hoping the zipline won't be so nerve-wracking, but even if it is I knew I had to be involved in this challenge because ambulance service staff have done such a tremendous job over the last 12 months, as they always do. This is an opportunity to give a little back and support TASC in the great work they do for the sector, alongside trusts, in ensuring staff are able to access the mental health and wellbeing resources they might need."
Will Hancock agrees. He explained: "This ticks a lot of boxes for me - a charity doing hugely important work at a time when it has never been more essential. And personally speaking, I want to encourage everyone in the ambulance sector to ask for help if they need it. We know it is the hardest step, yet it is the most important. It is vital to look after people who need help and who have committed themselves to helping others."
Kerry Gulliver says she wholeheartedly supports the work of TASC and jumped at the chance to take part in the fundraising challenge when asked. She said: "Our staff in the ambulance service do a difficult job, often under very challenging circumstances, providing care for patients when they need it most. This can have an impact on their mental health and wellbeing, which is why it is so important that we focus on doing whatever we can do to ensure that our ambulance staff can access the relevant support when they need it. TASC play a vital role in caring for the mental health and wellbeing of ambulance staff and their families, and that's why I'm taking part in this challenge."
As someone who has been helped enormously by TASC, ambulance technician Wayne Thomson, is delighted that the charity will benefit from the Ultimate Fundraising Challenge. He said: "Without TASC's help I would still be suffering with my PTSD and on medication to control my moods. My family and I are so grateful to TASC, we can't thank them enough. Helps is there, don't suffer in silence; just ask."
To show your support for Anna, Kerry, Tracy and Will, you can donate via their JustGiving page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tracy-anna-will-kerry