The LMAX Exchange Everest Rugby Challenge finally got underway on Saturday, after more than two years in the planning. But before they boarded their flight at London Heathrow, our team of 25 Challengers, along with their expedition leader, team doctor and camera man were given a proper and very emotional send off.
Hosted by the Wooden Spoon team, it was very much a family affair with 100 of the Challengers’ family and friends gathering together over tea and cake to see the team presented with their match kit and congratulated on raising over £440,000 already.
As a children’s charity, it was lovely that so many of the Challengers brought their own children to say goodbye, giving the party a fun (and loud!) atmosphere with them all enjoying the cake, colouring and balloons. The Challengers have all given up so much time to training and fundraising over the past year to help Wooden Spoon realise its vision that through the power of rugby every child and young person, no matter what their background has access to the same opportunities.
Wooden Spoon CEO, Sarah Webb reassured the Challengers’ families that they would be in safe hands in the days ahead, introducing them to the Challenge leaders from Wooden Spoon and travel experts, Adventure Peaks.
Before presenting the team captains (Lee Mears, Tamara Taylor, Ollie Phillips and Shane Williams MBE) with their match shirts, LMAX Exchange CEO, David Mercer, thanked the Challengers for their tireless fundraising and encouraged them to enjoy every moment of their 24 days away from every day life.
The captains then presented each of their team members with their match shirts to enthusiastic applause. The team spirit which has been evident since the first training weekend last September was clear to see.
After a last goodbye and a few tears with their families, the excited travellers headed off on the first step of their journey towards Mount Everest and two Guinness World records.