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Wirral mum set to trek across the Sahara to help struggling families in Merseyside

9 months ago

Wirral mum set to trek across the Sahara to help struggling families in Merseyside
Hetal is supporting families in merseyside

The 44-year-old mum of one from the Wirral will brave extreme temperatures and tough terrain to make the 100km journey across the African desert in November.

Charity worker Hetal Mainwaring is getting ready to trek across the Sahara to raise thousands of pounds to help families in Merseyside struggling with poverty.

Which is quite the challenge for someone who doesn’t like camping – and hates sand!

“But I know in terms of the experience that it’s going to be incredible,” says Hetal. “And just thinking about the money I’m raising and the people it will help spurs me on.

“It is a tough challenge, but I’m really looking forward to it.”

 And she adds: “I set a target of £3,000 and I’m now over £6,000 which is incredible.

“If I could get to £7,000 that would be amazing because it would make a huge difference to so many.  But I do know that not everyone is able to sponsor me, and I am just so grateful to all those who have.”

Hetal, who’s head of people for Nugent for whom she is embarking on the challenge, has been training for the trek since January.

She explains: “When Nugent was first talking about organising the trek I was like ‘wow’. It was something that I would never have thought of doing – I don’t like camping, I don’t like sand, and I wasn’t fit! But I knew it would push me physically and mentally, and take me out of my comfort zone. 

Hetal is supporting families in merseyside
Hetal is supporting families in merseyside

“I wanted to put my mind to something. I did a skydive before I was 30, but I had never imagined doing a challenge like this, so when the opportunity came up, I thought, just do it.”

Hetal is raising money for Nugent’s Community and Outreach project which supports families in extreme poverty.

“We are connected to schools who can make referrals for support for families who need the basic essentials, like a school uniform, or a washing machine, or beds,” says Hetal.

“And that resonates with me.

“I am fortunate, I have got one child and I would do anything for him, but what would happen if I couldn’t? This is supporting families who really need that help.

“It pulls at my heartstrings, the impact that this money could make when, in this day and age, we have people having to make the choice about feeding themselves and their children or getting them a uniform, or them having a bed.  It’s heartbreaking.

“My son is lucky to have his own bedroom, and access to warm food and clean clothes, so if I can make a small bit of difference to someone else’s life, then it’s the right thing to do.”

Hetal has given herself a training schedule which involves long coastal walks near her home – ‘although on the first walk I did I stood in a pool of mud and lost my walking shoe!’ – and she has even climbed half way up Ben Nevis before 60 mph winds meant they were advised to stop and turn back.

“Tribal Tracks who are supporting the trek have given us a robust training plan and I’m trying to go on extra walks. They say train hard, trek easy.  I did four miles last Friday before I picked my son up from school, five on Saturday and 14 on Sunday.

“We have been told to expect high temperatures of 20+ degrees in the day so it will be hot and sticky, but at night it could drop below zero.”

The seven-day adventure will start and finish in Marrakech in Morocco, travellingthrough stunning desert landscapes by day and camping under the stars at night.

Hetal is supporting families in merseyside
Hetal is supporting families in merseyside

Those taking part will trek between 12-30km per day (7.4-18.6 miles), to a total of 100km (just over 62 miles), fully supported with camels and desert guides and cooks.

“The thing I will miss most is contact with my family, especially my son,” says Hetal, “and, as a practising Hindu, not being with my son for Diwali (I hadn’t realised they would coincide when I committed to this).

“But I am actually looking forward to having a week without phone distractions because that’s something you never have, and going through some amazing terrain and scenery, and sitting around a campfire with just the stars above at night.

“It will give me chance to think about how fortunate I am. It will be an amazing and rewarding experience.”

Hetal adds: “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity which will raise money for people who really need it and it’s a chance for me to give back.

“And I can look forward to giving my husband and son a cuddle when I return – and hopefully my mum will have made me her amazing paneer curry!”

If you would like to help support Hetal and families in Merseyside, go to her fundraising page here.

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