FRANCES Mitchell has never been camping and doesn’t like heights - yet in three months time she’ll set off for a two-week trek in some of the most dramatic and mountainous scenery in the world.
The 66-year-old Lightcliffe grandmother and her great friend Anne Royds, of Manor Heath, Halifax, are on a special mission to raise money to help leprosy sufferers in Nepal.
With a combined age of 130, the two women are in training, with Frances losing a stone in weight in preparation, and are looking forward to the adventure of a lifetime.
Friends for 25 years, Frances and Anne are joining the Leprosy Mission’s Trek for Treatment walk through the Seti Valley in Nepal. They will have to walk around 10 miles a day over rough terrain. Their route will include crossing ravines on rope bridges and that’s the part that Frances is dreading the most.
“I really don’t like heights and that will be a challenge but I’m determined to give it a go - even if one of the Sherpas has to carry me!” said Frances, a member of Central Methodist Church in Brighouse.
The fight against leprosy is a cause that is close to Frances’s heart. At her former church, Cleckheaton Methodist, she was secretary for the Leprosy Mission and she has continued the fund-raising work at Central.
“It’s such a horrible illness and there is still such a stigma attached to it in many parts of the world. Somewhere in the world someone will be diagnosed with the condition every two minutes. Yet is is completely curable and also preventable with a simple injection,” said Frances.
On the trek the two women will be without access to running water, will sleep in tents at night and are only allowed to take the minimum of essentials.
Both women plan to keep a journal of their adventure and Frances intends to give talks to local groups and organisations on her return. On the outward journey spare suitaces will be packed with baby clothes, knitted by members of Cleckheaton Methodist Church, for the Leprosy Mission’s hospital just outside Kathmandu.
Frances and Anne, who job share at the Conscious Health clinic in Halifax, will spend three days at the hospital learning about the fight against leprosy and talking to doctors, nurses and patients there.
Fellow members at Central Methodist Church have been helping Frances with fund-raising. Seventy people attended a cream tea at the home of Frances and Howard Mitchell in Wakefield Road in August and a barn dance with pie and pea supper was held at the church in September.
“My friends and family have been so helpful, encouraging and supportive,” said Frances.
“I do keep myself fairly fit and I often walk down into Brighouse from Lightcliffe but this is going to be the most adventurous thing I’ve ever done - by far.”
Further fund-raising events are planned with Anne holding a ladies’ lunch at Italian restuarant 22 The Square, Northowram, on January 28.
l For tickets for the lunch contact 01422 352704 or 363899.