Two intrepid colleagues are ‘on top of the world’ after completing a gruelling expedition on Mount Everest in aid of the terminally ill.
Petra McMillan and her nephew Ryan Scobbie, of Alchemy Inns in Grangemouth, successfully scaled 5380 metres to reach Everest’s base camp following an 11-day trek earlier this month.
The pair set out on the daring mission through the Nepalese Himalayas as part of a 27-person team from the UK to fundraise for Marie Curie, a charity that provides free professional nursing care to those fighting terminal illnesses at home.
Petra (46) and Ryan (27) are hopeful their journey to the foot of the tallest mountain on Earth will raise £8500 — a significant sum which would help the team achieve its £70,000 collective target.
Remarkably, every member of the group, who are aged 27 to 74, made it to base camp — an impressive feat given the success rate for an average expedition is 65 per cent.
Now, thanks to their efforts, families caring for loved ones at home this Christmas will receive 3300 hours of high-quality, hands-on care for those with terminal conditions including cancer.
Petra said: “I’m really proud of everyone on our team, they all worked so hard in really tough conditions to achieve their goal.
“The fact all of us got there together is a testament to the strength of the group, our support crew from the UK and the local sherpas.”
Marie Curie patron Petra, who owns Alchemy Inns and Alchemy Drinks with husband Tommy, has, along with family and friends, raised more than £500,000 for the charity over the past decade through a series of sporting challenges.
These include summiting Africa’s highest peak — Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania — in 2016.
Finance manager Ryan admitted prior to heading to Everest he had been inspired to sign up by his aunt’s determination.
The duo had been planning to take on the challenge with fellow Alchemy Inns employee Andy Caulfield, however, he was forced to drop out due to health reasons.
The trip, which started on November 2, began on a sombre note following the death of fellow Marie Curie trekker Kellinu Portelli (54) just days earlier.
Dad-of-two Kellinu, from Cardiff, was found dead in his bed the night after reaching base camp and is believed to have succumbed to severe altitude sickness.
Several members of Petra’s team struggled with the effects of altitude and also battled sickness, diarrhoea, respiratory ailments, sleep deprivation and exhaustion during the trek.
She said: “I think there is a popular misconception that base camp is easy, only the summit counts, but that’s usually a view held by people who have no comprehension of the scale of these mountains or the knowledge of how altitude affects the body.
“Base camp is a long slog, beginning at plus 20 degrees and dropping to minus 18.
“Living conditions are very basic and just keeping healthy and strong day on day in order to get up and down safely is a challenge in itself.”
Altitude sickness floored Petra on Kilimanjaro three years ago when she had to endure a 17-hour summit day punctuated by ill health.
This time around, despite an iron transfusion for chronic anaemia just days before her departure to Nepal, she had no such symptoms.
The Dundee-born woman explained: “I think the big difference was time.
“In Tanzania we climbed to 5895 metres in five days. On Everest it took us eight days to reach 5364 metres.
“Those extra days make all the difference in helping your body acclimatise.”
Sadly, Ryan suffered mild altitude sickness symptoms, including nausea and headaches.
However, with careful monitoring from a team of UK doctors, he was able to complete the trek in full.
Ryan said: “It was a really tough challenge but I was determined to reach base camp.
“We’ve had brilliant support back home and a great team on the ground, that really kept us focussed on earning all the sponsorship people were kind enough to donate to Marie Curie.”
For more information about Marie Curie, visit www.mariecurie.org.uk.