After his two-year-old grandson Harry was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, Paul Stokes decided he wanted to raise funds for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust by taking on not one, not two, but three peaks in under 12 hours. He tells his story…

“My grandson Harry was diagnosed with retinoblastoma in July, while he and his mum Sarah were staying with us in Wales. What started as Sarah seeing a translucent look in Harry’s left eye, and then a lack of red eye in a flash photograph, ended two weeks later with Harry undergoing surgery to remove his eye.

While this was a horrible thing to have happened to any two-year-old child, it could have been so much worse and fortunately Harry doesn’t require any further treatment.

It was just after his surgery that we decided we should do something to raise funds for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust. I have taken part in various endurance events, so it was fairly logical what form the fundraising event should take.

As we wanted to do something sooner rather than later, it had to be something fairly easy to logistically organise and we came up with running the Welsh three peaks. The next thing was to rope in two other people – Terry to run the challenge with me and Mark to do the driving between the mountains.

We were going to start the run in the north at Mount Snowdon, then Cadair Idris in mid Wales and lastly Pen Y Fan in south Wales. The ascent over the three mountains was going to be 1914m/6280ft – Snowdon 3560ft, Cadair Idris 2930ft and Pen Y Fan 2907ft. We decided that it should be done in less than 12 hours, to make it a challenge!

Setting off

We started the run on 22 September at 6.30am. We took a fairly easy trot up, knowing there was another two to go after this. We reached the summit of Snowdon at 7.55am. The weather was misty and damp but remarkably good, and it was unusual to get the summit of Snowdon to ourselves!

We stopped to take a couple of photos and text them as proof of being at the top, then started heading down. We came down via the miners track which is approximately half a mile further than the Pyg going up, but added variation. We arrived back at Pen Y Pass at 9.15am.

The journey to Cadair Idris took just over 1.5 hours and we started running again at 10.51am. The start of Cadair Idris is hard going on the legs, made up of steps cut into the stone, which vary in height massively.

The weather was still good and we made good time to the cwm and started climbing up onto the ridge line. This would take us the rest of the way to the summit. Cadair Idris was far harder going than Snowdon with its rougher ground and steeper tracks.

We made the trig point (penygadair – the highest point) at around 12.25pm and again took a couple of pictures. We then started descending via the pony path. We descended this rough path and, barring a couple of slips and falls, it was a straightforward descent. We made it back to the Minffordd car park at 13.43pm.

Final ascent

The journey south to the Brecon Beacons took 2.5 hours. We started up Pen Y Fan at 4.08pm, reaching the trig point on the summit in 40 minutes. Again after a couple of pictures, we started descending back down. Just before the end of the descent we saw a couple of lads we had seen running on the top, one being held up by his friend. As we drew level with them one had obviously had a fall and damaged his ankle, so we finished the run helping to carry him to the car park. After a brief conversation they took my details and have kindly made a donation on our JustGiving page, so we even collected one donation while doing the run!

We finally made it back down in 30 minutes. We met up with Harry who was brought to the Beacons by his mum and nan to take some pictures at the end of the run.

The whole event took 10 hours 48 minutes, with 6 hours 47 minutes running time. So we managed to complete the run well in the 12 hours, and have gone over what we set out to raise, but we are going to keep our JustGiving page open for a few more weeks, so hopefully there is still more to be added.

If anyone would like to donate, it would be gratefully received. The link is www.justgiving.com/paul-stokes15.”

If you would like to take on a challenge for CHECT, please visit our challenge events page for more details.