Two heroine fundraisers are in training to battle the freezing terrain of the Arctic Circle in aid of a children’s cancer charity that’s close to their hearts.
Brave adventurers Caroline Platt, from Rossett, and Nerys Price-Jones, from Ruthin, begin their epic glacial challenge on January 31 when they will take off for the sub-zero climate of Finland.
The pair signed up for a stamina-sapping expedition walking across 65km of one of the iciest landscapes on earth.
The long-time friends work together at family owned firm Platts Agriculture in Llay, near Wrexham, where Caroline is owner/Managing Director and Nerys is the company’s People and Engagement Director.
As they get ready to encounter bone-chilling temperatures, their hearts have been warmed by some great news.
Nerys’s son, Fynle, was given the all-clear at his latest MRI scan following on from a mammoth 13 hour operation he underwent in 2019 to remove a life-threatening brain tumour.
Fynle, now 12, was treated at Alder Hey Hospital, where throughout his months of diagnosis, operations and after-care, he and his family were supported by the children’s cancer charity The Joshua Tree.
That’s why Nerys and Caroline chose the charity to benefit from their polar expedition.
The Joshua Tree team works to support the emotional well-being and mental health of all immediate and extended family members who are affected by childhood cancers for as long as they need it.
Nerys, her husband, community fund manager, Phil, and their daughter, Fynle’s sister Freya, 15, were introduced to the amazing work that The Joshua Tree does while Fynle was on Ward 3B at Alder Hey Hospital for much of 2019.
Nerys, who is now a trustee of the charity, said: “Our world was completely and utterly turned upside down when Fynle was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
“The Joshua Tree supported the whole family during treatment and continue to do so now. They have been a vital source of support and comfort for us all.
“Also, for me, as a mother with such a critically ill innocent, defenceless child, The Joshua Tree gave me hope when I needed every ounce I could grasp.”
As well as the operation, Fynle endured an intensive course of chemotherapy which left him physically weakened and he still has to have regular scans to check that the cancer has not returned.
But despite the trauma he is fighting to regain his strength and is determined to grasp life full on. He is extra proud of his mum for taking on the Arctic Trek organised by Edinburgh-based Breaking Strain Events.
The challenge sees participants fly to Rovaniemi in Finland, via Helsinki. Starting from there they will spend three days trekking into the Arctic Circle led by a team of expert guides.
The group will be navigating frozen lakes and snow-covered terrain in temperatures which can plummet to minus 40. They each have to pull their own kit in a pulk – a Nordic, low slung sled – and they will be sleeping outdoors in tents, camping round open log fires.
Caroline and Nerys have been training for months for the adventure and have walked hundreds of miles over recent weeks in a bid to get fit and strong for the challenge which requires they wear several layers of high tech clothing to keep warm.
Their training has included a four mile beach hike pulling heavy tyres, an 18 mile hike along Offa’s Dyke path from Llandegla to Chirk, and 12 miles from Betws-y-coed to Llyn Elys. They even continued their walking regime through the bitter storms and floods which hit Britain before Christmas.
Caroline laughed: “We must be the only people in the country who were positively delighted when the weather forecasters predicted heavy snow storms in Wales. It’s a perfect chance for us to get out there doing some snow training in preparation for the Arctic conditions.”
They are women on a mission, determined to raise as much as they can for The Joshua Tree. It costs the charity £5,000 a year to support just one family whose child is suffering from cancer.
Caroline added: “This is very much a personal and emotional challenge for me in support of Nerys, my dearest friend and work colleague.
“The Joshua Tree were there at a time in need and provided immense support to Nerys’s family during months and years spent at Alder Hey. The support, counselling and wellbeing mechanisms are truly incredible.
“Nerys is one incredible lady to come through this and I pledge every single bit of strength and courage I have to complete this challenge so that all families suffering through childhood cancer can receive the support they desperately need.”
Caroline has already proved herself to be a formidable action woman. She is an experienced businesswoman, and runs the family company Platts Agriculture, a leader in the UK animal bedding market. Last year Platts marked its 50th anniversary in business having launched in 1973.
Platts has achieved a Royal Warrant and it was named as the UK’s best family firm at the recent Federation of Small Businesses Awards.
To celebrate the company’s half century milestone anniversary and her own 50th birthday last summer Caroline went on a dare-devil trek across the baking heat of the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan in aid of the Faith in Families charity based in Swansea and Brecon.
She said: “I’m going from one extreme to the other. Jordan was scorching heat and now we’re plunging down to minus 40. They really our polar opposites in terms of adventure, but both are tests of mental and physical resilience.
“Any discomfort caused by the cold will be nothing compared to what families facing the news that a child has cancer have to go through. That will be 100 per cent our focus, doing all we can to help families confronting the heart-breaking trauma of a cancer diagnosis.”
Caroline firmly believes that one of the recipe’s for Platt’s ongoing success has always been that it gets behind community causes. As MD she encourages all staff to be involved in local activities.
For more details about their Arctic Trek and find how to donate to The Joshua Tree cause go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/carolinejplatt or https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/nerys-price-jones