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Grandson celebrates after tackling three Welsh peaks in a day, in memory of ‘phenomenal’ gran

IWAN Williams, senior community engagement officer at Bangor University, took on the ambitious challenge in memory of his 102-year-old Mamgu – Irene Williams, a founding member of Christian Aid groups in Wales.

Iwan set out on Tuesday, July 2 to climb Pen y Fan, in Powys – the highest point in South Wales; Cadair Idris, in Eryri (Snowdonia National Park); and Yr Wyddfa – or Snowdon – the highest mountain in Wales.

His aim was to complete the challenge in one day, which he did – with time to spare! All peaks were completed in 12 hours and he drove himself between each one, covering 143 miles! Pen y Fan peak was reached at 5.17am, Penygader, Cader Idris at 9.48am and Yr Wyddfa at 3.14pm.

“I’ve been up Yr Wyddfa twice previously,” the 41-year-old explained, “and I’m reasonably fit, having competed in several runs and marathons so I wasn’t too worried about being able to tackle this. I wanted to do something different to honour Mamgu and raise money in her memory. She was a phenomenal woman and inspired me and so many others. Raising funds for Christian Aid makes sense; it was Mamgu’s passion for decades.”

Iwan is originally from Llandysul in west Wales and spent a lot of time with his grandparents, Irene and Cyril, in nearby Cwmann during his childhood.

The couple were well-known in the area – Cyril was minister at Priordy, Welsh Congregational Church, Carmarthen in the 1950s and Irene pioneered support for Christian Aid Cymru – or Inter-Church Aid as it was then known – in the area.

She is featured in a book called Beginnings, by Dewi Lloyd Lewis, the first National Secretary for Christian Aid in Wales, who said while living in Carmarthen, “Irene organised the first door to door collection in the town which raised £64. They used tin collecting boxes as the collecting envelopes had not yet been introduced.”

Irene moved to Cardiff in 1958 and, alongside two friends, established a Christian Aid Branch. Her living room at St Isan Road was described as the ‘nerve centre’ for Christian Aid. On one occasion she and the team arrived at Tabernacle Chapel in the Hayes, in the centre of Cardiff, ready to sell cakes from a caravan on the pavement. The caravan door however faced inwards towards the railings and was inaccessible. Irene collected a group of men and asked the police to stop the traffic in order to turn the caravan around to face the customers. During her lifetime and while chairperson for the Lampeter branch for 18 years, she managed to raise thousands with various projects for Christian Aid.

After Cyril’s death 20 years ago, Irene continued to live independently until her 100th birthday when she moved to a care home. She died in January this year, aged 102.

Iwan said he was pleased with how the challenge went: “It was a fantastic day; a long one but successful! Apart from the foggy conditions at the summit of Pen y Fan and Yr Wyddfa, I was fortunate with good weather. There was some incredible scenery and plenty of fresh air, having walked some 19 miles in total. 

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“At the summit of Yr Wyddfa, there were visitors from Nepal, India, Japan, Germany…the world coming to Wales – which is something Mamgu would love to see. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the fundraising, and to Christian Aid for their support.”

Iwan was welcomed back from his feat at Penceunant Isaf Café Llanberis at 5pm by Llinos Roberts, Church Engagement and Fundraising Officer for Christian Aid Cymru.

Llinos said: “A huge congratulations to Iwan for completing this challenge. It was a great way of honouring Irene and raising funds for the work of Christian Aid which was a cause she was passionate about.” 

Iwan has raised £870 which means he’s well on his way to his £1,000 target. To support him, and the work of Christian Aid, please visit his fundraising page – https://www.justgiving.com/page/iwan-williams-trichopacymru2024.