A woman from Somerset will take on the adventure of a lifetime in memory of her father this autumn – a trip given extra poignancy by the fact it begins on what would have been her dad’s birthday.

Rachel Young will be taking part in Weston Hospicecare’s Sahara Desert trek this November after the charity cared for her dad Derek Vincent before he died last December.

The trip is being organised by the hospice as part of its 30th anniversary celebrations, and invites participants to join a six-day trip trekking in the shadow of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.

Rachel, aged 45, is originally from Weston but now lives in Edithmead, where she is a full-time carer for her husband James and works as a receptionist at Fusion Leisure Centre in Home Farm holiday park in Burnham.

She is joined the Sahara adventure to help raise money for the ‘amazing’ hospice in recognition for its role supporting Derek last year.

Hospice nurses initially helped care for Derek in his home, before he spent three weeks at the hospice’s inpatient unit in the final days of his struggle with skin cancer.

Rachel (pictured above at work, and with her dad and sister) said: “All the staff at the hospice are amazing. As soon as we’d been contacted by the hospice it was like a huge weight had been lifted from our shoulders.

“Not only do they take care of your loved one, they also look after the family members. My sister found it all extremely hard and was very emotional but the support of the hospice counsellor really helped her.

“It was great to know that their support was there for all of us during dad’s time in the hospice, and knowing that the support is still there now if we feel we need it.”

Rachel has previously supported the hospice through events like the Mendip Challenge and Midnight Beach Walk, but will now embark on an even bigger adventure.

She said: “I’d already decided to do this year’s Mendip Challenge in memory of my dad and I was looking for all the sign-up info on the hospice Facebook page when the Sahara Desert popped up.

“It starts on what would have been my dad’s birthday, so it took my interest instantly.

“I just thought about the three weeks he was in the hospice and how I could help raise money so the hospice would then be able to help and support another family going through such a sad and difficult time.”

The Sahara challenge will see walkers tackle a route through one of the most famous landscapes on earth, supported by Berber guides and a camel train. They will camp beneath the stars, and enjoy sunrise over the Saharan dunes, reputed to be a breath-taking and essential addition to anyone’s bucket list.

Rachel said: “If dad was here now and I was telling him what I’m doing, I’m pretty sure he’s say ‘what are you doing that for?’ – and once it had sunk in, he’s say ‘go for it… but be careful’.  

“My family and friends all think I’m mad but they’re also really supportive.

“I cannot wait to do it. I’m very excited to be trying something completely out of my comfort zone and meet new people who are in the same boat as me. I’m a little bit scared, however, of snakes and scorpions and having no access to gin!

“I think I’m going to be quite tearful on dad’s birthday and I’m sure I’ll be quietly reminiscing on and off throughout the day, but I’ll also feel very proud to be doing something in his honour and raising lots of money for such a brilliant cause.”

Places remain available on Weston Hospicecare’s Sahara Desert adventure, which runs from 7-12 November.

There are two ways to fund the trip. The first is to pay a £175 registration fee and commit to raising a minimum £1,800 in sponsorship, which covers all costs and contributes to the hospice too. Or you can pay the registration fee and self-fund the trip for £900, in which case there is no minimum sponsorship, though supporters are encouraged to raise as much as they can.

If you’re keen to learn more about the challenge, you can investigate the itinerary and other details at www.westonhospicecare.org.uk/treks-and-walks

To sign up, or to discuss the trip in more detail, contact the hospice’s challenge manager Simon Angear on 01934 423947 or by emailing simon.angear@westonhospicecare.org.uk

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