Three days, three peaks, £5,500 raised

Kirsty and Richard Knowles and their friends at the top of Scafell
Kirsty and Richard Knowles and their friends at the top of Scafell

When the going gets tough, Kirsty and Richard Knowles and their friends get going.

The Rastrick couple and more than 20 friends and acquaintances from Rastrick Cricket Club climbed three peaks - Ben Nevis, Scafell and Snowdon - in a weekend to help a cause close to their hearts.

Richard and Kirsty Knowles at the bottom of Snowden

Richard and Kirsty Knowles at the bottom of Snowden

Kirsty and Richard took on the tough challenge to raise money for the Joseph Salmon Trust, a West Yorkshire charity devoted to helping families who have lost a child.

Kirsty is the mum and Richard the step-dad of Shannen Harker, who was 15 when she died in a car crash in Bailiff Bridge in 2008.

The trust helped Shannen’s family buy a headstone and Kirsty and Richard have not forgotten the support they received at a difficult time in their lives.

Kirsty, who works at Carr Green Primary School, Rastrick, said: “We were telling some friends about the Joseph Salmon Trust and mentioned that we were thinking of doing the Three Peaks in Yorkshire to raise funds.

Kirsty and Richard Knowles and the other climbers at the top of Ben Nevis

Kirsty and Richard Knowles and the other climbers at the top of Ben Nevis

“The next thing people were talking about the National Three Peaks and a notice went up in Rastrick Cricket Club asking for volunteers to take part! The response was just fantastic.

“We knew a lot of the people who planned to take part but there were others who saw the poster and decided to join in when they heard about the charity. It was very touching - and over the course of three days we all became friends.”

Helping to organise the walk was Richard Thaxter whose 14-year-old daughter Abbie was the youngest climber to complete all three peaks. Eleven-year-old Holly Knowles, the youngest walker to take part, completed Snowdonia and Nick McMahon at 55 was the oldest participant to complete all three climbs.

Two of the routes - Ben Nevis and Scafell - were completed in bright sunshine and blue skies but the toughest climb was Snowdon on the last day.

Kirsty said: “The last peak was the hardest. The weather forecast was for rain and we knew it would be soggy but we weren’t expecting gale force winds, torrential downpours and hail blasting us.

“It took every bit of strength, mentally, physically and emotionally to reach the top and then to get down again through the fog. We were soaked through - nothing was waterproof!

“Each and everyone of us pulled together to support each other and we were determined not to give up.

“Coming down Snowdonia was quite scary at times. Because of the weather it was impossible to stay together and we came down at three separate places.

“Then there was no mobile phone reception so we had to find a pay phone to let people know where we were!”

Despite the grim weather on the last day, Kirsty and Richard said the whole experience had been a positive one and they were overwhelmed by the support they had received.

It is hoped that the walk will have raised £5,500 for the trust.

“We can’t thank our guides and drivers - Andy Moran, Jason Middleton, Dawn Moran and Andy Williams - or the support team and butty-makers - Cath Lynch, Vicky Thaxter and Dawn Moran - enough. We all had a fantastic feeling of achievement at the end of it,” said Kirsty.

“We all made memories and friendships that will stay with us forever.”

Kirsty said she wanted to help the Joseph Salmon Trust because of the invaluable way it had helped the family after Shannen’s death.

“Memories are so precious, especially when you lose a child. We lost Shannen five years ago but she is always in our hearts.

“Now when I visit Shannen’s grave, I am helped to remember her and keep her memory alive, thanks to the trust. The money we have raised will help other families who are going through the same thing.”

The trust was set up by Neil Salmon in 2005 after the death of his young son, Joseph. The aim is to offer financial help to bereaved families to help with funeral costs and other expenses at a time when they are struggling to come to terms with their loss.