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Trekking for charity

Trekking for charity

Trekking for Charity a great Himalayan trail with the aim of raising money for two military charities; the Gurkha Welfare Trust (GWT) and Soldiers Sailors Airmen Families Association (SSAFA) Forces Help, Doc McKerr from the United Kingdom has chosen to trek the Great Himalaya Trail.

McKerr chose the GWT because he had worked as the Project Engineer for the GWT’s field arm, the Gurkha Welfare Scheme (GWS) in 2009-10 in Pokhara and was responsible for the Project Cell. During this time they constructed 22 schools, provided aid for over 160 school refurbishments and constructed a medical centre. “So naturally my allegiance to the charity is strong, plus I think they do a marvellous job supporting the retired Gurkhas, many of whom weren’t entitled to a British Army pension, and the communities they live in”, says McKerr. Each year a number of school and water projects as well as medical camps are completed across Nepal.

McKerr chose SSAFA Forces Help because he thinks they are a great organisation who help anyone who has served in the military. They assist anyone of any age and support them in any way they can, whether it be helping them recover after a serious injury, provide social work for those suffering from post operational stress to supporting the families of injured military personal. “They are an amazing versatile charity and I have had a number of friends and colleagues receive assistance from them so I thought it only right that I raise money for them”, Mc Kerr says.

Doc McKerr is currently trekking the Kanchenjunga section of the GHT. We had spoken to him briefly before he left Kathmandu on 31 March. Excerpt from the interview.

GHT: How do you intend to raise money for the charity by trekking?

Doc: I am currently raising money through my website, friends and family. All money donated will go through Virgin Giving which means the money is automatically split between the two charities, they get the money straight away and gift aid can be received too (this is when the British Government add 25% to any donations so long as the donor is paying British Tax).

GHT: Why did you choose the GHT?

Doc: Like many people, I like trekking and climbing and I love the mountains and I thought this trek offered something for everyone. Also because it offers a great opportunity for me to review the old GWS and Kadoorie Agricultural Aid Association projects in the more remote areas of Nepal but more importantly try and establish new projects like bridges, micro-hydro and individual aid for the severely disabled in the remote districts. Therefore, I thought by doing this trek I could achieve so much. Additionally, because this is so unique I hope it attracts more people’s attention and helps raise the profile of the GHT and in turn increases the amount of money I can raise.

GHT: Are you trekking the lower or the upper GHT? Tell us a little more about your route.

Doc: It will be a mix of the upper and lower GHT. The great things about the GHT route that I have chosen is that it covers so many different landscapes, cultures and traditions, many of which I had not really experienced during my 18 months in Nepal. I wanted a real challenge, in terms of the planning and the expedition itself and due to my connection to Nepal, my reasonable amount of experience and my limited Nepali language skills. I thought that this would make the perfect challenge.

GHT: Why did you decide to walk alone?

Doc: Well, mainly so that I could save money for the charity and to make the expedition as challenging as possible. During my time as the Project Engineer for GWS I managed to trek a lot as part of my job, seeing projects etc. and this gave me a great understanding of the people and the language, so doing it on my own has never been something that I am concerned with. A friendly smile and basic conversation to break the ice goes along way over here. This is a solo trek. I have always enjoyed a challenge, whether it be mentally or physically.

GHT: How many days will you take to complete this expedition?

Doc: I am completing the Great Himalaya Trail in less than 100 days. I am starting my adventure from Taplejung in East-Nepal on 01 April. I know this is an incredible task and for some people this may sound unrealistic, but I am keen to aim high and strive towards it as it is yet another challenge to keep me focused. Plus it’s a nice round number!

GHT: Have you undertaken a mission like this before?

Doc: I have never done anything like this before but the I really enjoyed     the planning stages, even though they were incredibly frustrating,       because I am doing this on my own without direct support (i.e. guides     and porter or caches along the way). I had to think about things to a   different level, especially contingency planning for all eventualities  eg injury, logistics etc.

GHT: All the best, Doc, and hope you raise enough money for the charity.

Doc: Thank you. I’m hopeful people will be generous with their donations.

our testimonials

  • Dammaru Niraula was our guide and confidant for our recent visit to Nepal. We went on a humanitarian visit to build a hothouse in the village of Phortse in the Khumbu region of Nepal but also included some trekking on a personal level before and after our project. Dammaru was a vital link in getting the project off the ground and…

    Testimonial from Bell Howse with hothouse group  Australia
    • Testimonial from Bell Howse with hothouse group Australia
  • Dammaru Niraula Trekking Guide Trip Leader I have had an association with Dammaru over the last three years. My first trek with Dammaru was to the Solu Khumbu region where he tailored a trek to suit our request to climb some remote passes and stay off the main tourist routes where possible. His knowledge of the area was very impressive and his attention to our safety was always his major concern. The second trek I did with Dammaru two years…

    Ian Thwaity with hothouse group Australia
    • Ian Thwaity with hothouse group Australia
    • Australia
  • Dear Dammaru I have been trekking to Ghorepani poon hill on Jan 07 for 6 days with Mr. Dammaru. Poonhill is so beautiful, so all I can do is just taking pictures on poon hill. If you were planning to trek in Nepal, I…

    Testimonial from Hajime / Tokyo.
    • Testimonial from Hajime / Tokyo.
    • Japan
  • I was a member of a group of nine friends from Northamptonshire in 204 from the UK, on a trek of the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. Apart from one member, we were all approaching or over the age of 60 and were all well aware of the difficulties we could encounter at Thorong La which sits at an altitude of 5,416 meters (17,769…

    Philip Pomeroy  Holcot, Northamptonshire, UK.
    • Philip Pomeroy Holcot, Northamptonshire, UK.
    • British
  • My husband and I embarked on a trip to Nepal in October 2006. We were hoping to avoid the large tour groups and were referred to Himalayan Holidays based in Kathmandu as a provider of customized tours. We had looked on the net to determine the tour we wanted to undertake and spoke to many people and eventually decided 6-day on Ghorepani Poon…

    Peter Smith & Jane Fairlie  South Australia
    • Peter Smith & Jane Fairlie South Australia
    • Australia
view all testimonials
  • Dammaru Niraula was our guide and confidant for our recent visit to Nepal. We went on a humanitarian visit to build a hothouse in the village of Phortse in the Khumbu region of Nepal but also included some trekking on a personal level before and after our project. Dammaru was a vital link in getting the project off the ground and then as a support person in Nepal before, during and after. He completed the following tasks with the utmost professionalism and patience. Arranged transfer of a large number of funds from Australian bank account to Nepalese bank account. Communications with the village before we arrived to ensure the walls were built. Organized our itinerary and necessary bookings for the trekking part of our journey for 8 adults. Once we arrived in Nepal he then assisted us in purchasing all the gear we needed for the finishing of the hothouse. e.g. Polycarbonate roof sheeting and the many other bits of hardware necessary. Transport of the roofing etc to Phortse village via helicopter, plane, yak, and porter. As well as being a part of the project Dammaru also was our trekking guide for the duration of our trip of 5 weeks. He organized everything for us from the hotel, in Kathmandu and everything in between our trek to base camp. He is honest, reliable and always puts the customer first. I would have no hesitation in recommending Dammaru to anyone who is considering a trip to Nepal.

    Testimonial from Bell Howse with hothouse group  Australia
    • Testimonial from Bell Howse with hothouse group Australia
  • Dammaru Niraula Trekking Guide Trip Leader I have had an association with Dammaru over the last three years. My first trek with Dammaru was to the Solu Khumbu region where he tailored a trek to suit our request to climb some remote passes and stay off the main tourist routes where possible. His knowledge of the area was very impressive and his attention to our safety was always his major concern. The second trek I did with Dammaru two years later. This trip was the culmination of a long term project to build hothouses in a village deep into the Solu Khumbu region. www.himalyanhothouse.org To complete this project Dammaru had a pivotal role in developing contacts, sourcing materials helping to manage the project finances. During the preparations for the Hothouse project, we found Dammaru to be honest, prompt and very hardworking. He also showed a great understanding of our requests and needs for the project to be successful. During the trek, itself Dammaru co-ordinated seven of our group and six porters as well as an extra climbing guide. He also acted as a very effective interpreter and liaison with the people of the village of Phortse. On a personal level, Dammaru is the most genuine man with a big heart. He shared the passion for our project and its humanitarian ideals. Once again our safety during the whole trek was his main concern. A phrase often used by Dammaru sums up his professional work ethic. Service is most important. I would not hesitate to recommend the services of Dammaru Niraula if you plan to undertake a trek or similar activity in Nepal.
    Ian Thwaity with hothouse group Australia
    • Ian Thwaity with hothouse group Australia
    • Australia
  • Dear Dammaru I have been trekking to Ghorepani poon hill on Jan 07 for 6 days with Mr. Dammaru. Poonhill is so beautiful, so all I can do is just taking pictures on poon hill. If you were planning to trek in Nepal, I would recommend you as one choice. His personality and professional guide skill makes me fun of Trekking and Nepal. so I am planning to go to Nepal again this August. He may meet all demand of you request on your trekking trip even though you join in the big group.  Because he has more over 10 years experience of  trekking guide for Many English and Japanese speaker. Actually, I have never met such a good Japanese speaker guide and I had no chance to speak in English with him. I can recommend him to all people who need great experience guide with English or Japanese. so you can get satisfaction for a great guide. Very Thanks,
    Testimonial from Hajime / Tokyo.
    • Testimonial from Hajime / Tokyo.
    • Japan
  • I was a member of a group of nine friends from Northamptonshire in 204 from the UK, on a trek of the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. Apart from one member, we were all approaching or over the age of 60 and were all well aware of the difficulties we could encounter at Thorong La which sits at an altitude of 5,416 meters (17,769 feet). Our group was led by Dammaru Niraula and we were most impressed by his leadership qualities. He introduced us gently to the lower altitudes and gradually encouraged us on longer and more arduous days of trekking. At Manang, he encouraged us to take a day trek up the lower slopes of Gangapurna and Annapurna III (see my photo below) and afterward to attend an altitude safety lecture in Manang. We are all convinced that, without his careful attention to altitude safety, we would not all have completed the trek over Thorong La and some of us at least would have joined the many trekkers who are forced to descend suffering from altitude sickness. We will always be eternally grateful to Dammaru and his team of Sherpas. Like many Nepalese, Dammaru has a very quiet and gentle nature with a keen sense of humor and fun. At first, he appears to be shy and reserved but is constantly attending to the needs of his guests, assessing their temperaments and abilities and adjusting the itinerary accordingly. After a few days in his care, you come to realize that you are in the hands of an experienced, competent and understanding mountain guide. I can recommend him too highly and know that he will continue to offer excellent trekking facilities in the Himalayas.
    Philip Pomeroy  Holcot, Northamptonshire, UK.
    • Philip Pomeroy Holcot, Northamptonshire, UK.
    • British
  • My husband and I embarked on a trip to Nepal in October 2006. We were hoping to avoid the large tour groups and were referred to Himalayan Holidays based in Kathmandu as a provider of customized tours. We had looked on the net to determine the tour we wanted to undertake and spoke to many people and eventually decided 6-day on Ghorepani Poon Hill trek. We live in a plain and therefore training for the trek was a challenge in itself. We spent our weekends climbing up and down a 700metre high hill that was regarded as sufficiently steep for our training needs. However, we were unsure of what to expect in Nepal and were concerned about our levels of fitness for the trek that we had in mind. We were introduced to our guide, Dammaru at the hotel we were staying in Kathmandu and our anxieties were quickly alleviated. This diminutive gentleman exuded confidence and assured us that he was able to accommodate our individual fitness levels and ensure that our time in his country was hassle free. And indeed he did! Without it being particularly noticeable, Dammaru controlled the tempo of our daily treks in order that the enjoyment factor always exceeded any physical discomfort. His relationship with the locals was both real & genuine which meant we never felt like intruders or uncomfortable in their presence. Dammaru's keen negotiation skills with the local tea house proprietors' meant the delay between arriving & unwinding from the challenges of our daily treks was minimal with the accommodation always being appropriate to our needs. His professionalism was faultless. He provided us with a wealth of information on all aspects of the history, culture, flora, and fauna of this remarkable country. Not only was he a fantastic guide, but his cheeky grin and sense of humor ensured Dammaru to be a fantastic traveling companion. Our dealings with Dammaru exceeded all expectations and we hope to make a return visit to this stunningly beautiful country.

    Peter Smith & Jane Fairlie  South Australia
    • Peter Smith & Jane Fairlie South Australia
    • Australia
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