They’re ready but is the bus?

Three Peaks team (L-R) Richard Pearson, John Patchett, Sebastian Moss, Johnny Renner, Nathan Emblen, Paul Barcham, Leonie Hyslop, James Marshall, Sally Marshall.
Three Peaks team (L-R) Richard Pearson, John Patchett, Sebastian Moss, Johnny Renner, Nathan Emblen, Paul Barcham, Leonie Hyslop, James Marshall, Sally Marshall.

A GROUP of north Northumberland charity fund-raisers are fit and ready for the gruelling Three Peaks Challenge, but will their bus be up to the task?

That’s the biggest worry for those aiming to climb the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales in just 24 hours.

The group have spent months working on their fitness with Sunday morning hikes in the Cheviots preparing for their bid to raise cash to buy a new mini-bus for school and community groups in Belford.

But they face travelling to Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and then Snowdon in the race against the clock using a 12-year-old bus that badly needs replacing.

“I’m confident those taking part in the Three Peaks Challenge are finely tuned and in perfect running order, which is more than can be said for their transport unfortunately,” said Lynne Brookes, headteacher at St Mary’s CofE Middle School.

“The old thing has given the children at this school and community groups in the village like the Scouts 12 years of great service, but we badly need a new one now. If anyone lets the team down it will be the bus.”

To complete the Three Peaks Challenge on June 30 the group must walk a total of 26 miles and will climb a total of 9,800 feet. Experts say a strong walker needs around five hours to climb and descend each peak.

So to complete the task in the 24 hours they need the old mini-bus to cover the journey between the Three Peaks in less than nine hours.

“The state of the bus is a bit of a concern, and that’s before we get stuck in any traffic,” said farmer and Scout leader Richard Pearson, who is leading the fund-raising effort.

“Our bus is past its best. That’s why we’ve declared 2012 the Year Of The Bus in Belford and are determined to do whatever it takes to raise the money needed to get the village a new one.

“If anyone else wants to take up the challenge and join us we’d love to hear from them as we have one place on the bus left.”

Local businesses are being offered the chance to have their company logo on the new Belford bus for minimum donations of £250.

Anyone wanting to take up that opportunity, or sponsor those taking on the Three Peaks Challenge, can do so by telephoning Richard Pearson on 07713 072570.

Belford Middle School is also organisinga fun-filled Party In The Barn on Saturday, June 16, at North Belshill Farm.

Tickets for the event, which includes live music, a hog roast and disco, with free camping for those who fancy making a real night of it, are £20 and are available from the school on 01668 213361.