Polymedia helps mum on a mission
Polymedia has been working with Shadi Ganjavian-Connor as she bids to raise thousands of pounds for the Murray Parish Trust. Here is her incredible story:
She will face her ultimate fear as she attempts to climb one of the most dangerous mountains in the world in aid of Hampshire charity The Murray Parish Trust.
Shadi Ganjavian-Connor, from Chandlers Ford, Hampshire, will climb the 14,692ft Matterhorn in aid of the Murray Parish Trust’s Two Million Steps campaign, which aims to raise £2m for a dedicated children’s A&E department at Southampton hospital.
The Swiss peak is widely acknowledged as one of the most difficult ascents in the world, with only one in five climbers making it the summit and a number of tragic deaths over the decades.
But Shadi, who admits she is so scared of heights she will not go to the top of Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower, is determined to help after being inspired by the work of the Murray Parish Trust.
The charity was set up by Hampshire celebrity couple James Murray and Sarah Parish, who have raised thousands of pounds for Southampton General since their late daughter Ella-Jayne was treated there in 2009.
Working with Southampton Hospital Charity, they are aiming to raise £2m, which will be match-funded by the government. A further £800,000 is to be allocated by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust to build the £4.8m unit.
Shadi heard about the Murray Parish Trust through friends and, after researching the project, was compelled to help.
The 42-year-old, who works in marketing, said: “When I researched the project and saw the scale of it, I was so impressed and knew I had to help.
“They are creating all these little private spaces for the children and will be taking children from nine counties.
“I think children deserve their own dedicated A&E department, not only for the benefits of specialist healthcare, but I also think it could be quite distressing for youngsters to experience everything that goes on in a busy adult A&E ward.
“It blows my mind how big Southampton hospital is and how fortunate we are to have it on our doorstep.
“I’ve done a lot of challenges, like marathons, half-marathons, Tough Mudders, but nothing like this.
“The Matterhorn is quite a dangerous challenge for me to take on because it’s quite technical, you need to do a lot of training and you need to be very physically strong to take it on.
“I don’t like heights and I don’t like the cold, so all it makes me come to the conclusion, that if I can crack this, I can crack anything!
“I hope to inspire others by taking on a challenge of this magnitude.
“I’m 5ft 2 and I weigh 50kg, so I’m quite tiny.
“So people look at me and say ‘Are you really going to do this?’ The answer is ‘yes, I am!’”
Support from local businesses and football legend
Shadi has been rallying the support of local businesses to support her charity climb and stressed that her charity bid would not be possible without the support of family, friends and supporters.
England football legend Kevin Keegan offered to pay for the trip after hearing of Shadi’s challenge. Shadi was delighted with the offer, but wanted to pay for the trip herself and instead Kevin has donated to The Murray Parish Trust. The pair met at a charity ball for Surrey-based charity The Knights Foundation, which helps carers and families managing disabilities. Shadi gave a small presentation about her Matterhorn challenge to the audience, which included Kevin.
Shadi has been doing hours of training, including climbing with ropes in Snowdonia and practising on the climbing walls at the Golden Gecko Centre in Romsey.
She will be attempting to the climb to the summit on July 14 with renowned mountaineer Stuart MacDonald.
Shadi added: “It’s a very steep mountain. Some people think I’m going trekking – but this is going to be very much a climb.
“The weather is extremely changeable on the Matterhorn, so you really need to be with someone who knows what they are doing.
“It is, for sure, an adventure.
“I have been doing around two hours a day of fitness, a mixture of cardio and weights, so I have become quite strong.
“I have been doing a lot of endurance training, just mind over matter challenges. I will be walking from London to Brighton with a friend as part of my training.”
Shadi admitted she was ‘a total novice climber’ but said she was not letting it hold her back.
She explained: “My mind is so focused at the moment on just getting as much support as possible from local businesses, but I’m sure I will start to think more about the enormity of what I’m taking on when it gets closer to the time.”
Shadi and her guide Stuart will stop half way up the mountain to stay in a hut with other climbers before attempting the treacherous summit.
She said: “We aren’t expecting to get much sleep because the plan is to wake up around midnight to depart at around 1am when we will then start a 10-hour climb up the mountain to the summit and then come back down to the hut.
“The summit is absolutely mind-blowing because it’s so narrow with a sheer drop on either side.
“I’m terrified of heights, but I actually want to feel what it’s like to be up there.
“I should be okay if my feet are on the ground. I will crawl if I have to!”
Fear of heights
Explaining how she’s never been up the Spinnaker Tower, Shadi added: “I would never go to the top of the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth – I have never been and I don’t think I ever will!
“I don’t like the height. My friend’s abseiled down the side of it and it made me feel sick watching them do it.”
Shadi is bidding to raise £14,692 – the same as the height of Matterhorn.
But she added: “It would be amazing to raise £30k which would equate to £60k.
“That’s what super-exciting about this project because anything I raise will be automatically doubled.”
Explaining more about why she wanted to help Southampton hospital, Shadi said: “Your biggest and most important asset is your health.
“Unfortunately it can be quite depressing when you go to a hospital, so if you can help raise funds to make things a little bit easier for families, it can only be a good thing.
“It must be so incredibly hard to have a child in a hospital and see them sick.”
To support Shadi visit https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/shadivthematterhorn
Shadi is also keen to give school and business talks about her challenge. Anyone interested should email email@example.com.
Companies and organisations supporting her challenge include:
Ahmad Tea (Eastleigh)
PVC Building Supplies (Hedge End)
Bradley’s Foundation (Hampshire-based charity)
In Tech Telecom (Chandler’s Ford)
Draper Tools (Chandler’s Ford)
Golden Gecko Climbing (Romsey)
Cotswold Outdoor (Malmesbury, Wiltshire)