Morrisons manager goes from couch potato to climbing mountains for CLIC Sargent

A Morrisons manager who went from self-confessed couch potato to avid mountain climber is setting his sights on climbing eight of Europe’s tallest peaks in four months, raising money for CLIC Sargent, the supermarket's charity partner.

Kevin Essex, Morrisons Manager, poses with horizontal stalactites at the top of Ben Nevis.

Morrisons manager, Kevin Essex, is set to scale eight mountains in a bid to raise £10,000 for CLIC Sargent young people and their families.

The 41-year-old Market Street Area Coach, from Corby, took on his first peak, Snowdon, alongside dozens of his colleagues as part of a charity challenge back in 2014, and has been climbing ever since.

He said: “We left at 4am and the first quarter of a mile is just tarmac. But even that killed us and we weren’t even on the mountain yet. I was absolutely knackered. I thought ‘what am I doing?’ but it ended up being quite life changing for me. The thrill of the summit is unlike anything else on earth. It is an eye opener.”

Specialist equipment

Kevin took on Ben Nevis in May 2015, but was forced to turn back before the summit because of heavy rain and snow. But, not to be defeated, he returned to the mountain with crampons – special shoe grips – and ice axes and completed the climb. In October that year, he took on both Snowdon and Ben Nevis in one weekend. He said:

“There were horizontal stalactites where the wind had frozen the water in such high winds. But traipsing through snow isn’t easy. I took off my goggles for one second at the top and my sweat froze, leaving me with ice in my goggles all the way down.”

Tackling the High Tatras

Kevin is now setting his sights on eight mountains in four months, starting with the Yorkshire Three Peaks on September 10. Kevin will join 80 colleagues from across Morrisons on the trek, which takes in Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent – all in one day. Kevin will then go on to Poland and Slovakia in November – where temperatures reach minus 20 degrees celsius - to climb four mountains in the High Tatras, before returning to Ben Nevis in December.

David Scott, Head of Corporate Affairs at Morrisons will join Kevin on the Yorkshire Three Peaks on September 10. He said: “We are all rooting for Kevin to go all the way with this truly epic challenge, and I personally will be glad to have such an experienced climber with the group as we take on the Yorkshire Three Peaks. Every pound raised between Kevin and the other walkers will enable CLIC Sargent to be there for more young people facing cancer, and their families.”

Morrisons colleagues chose CLIC Sargent to be its charity partner following a staff vote in January this year. The three year partnership has a target of £8m that will transform the support CLIC Sargent can give to young people facing cancer. The money raised will provide five new nurse educators, who can educate other health, social care and education professionals close to patients’ homes so they don’t need to travel miles for specialist care. It will also fund Home Hubs next to specialist cancer treatment hospitals, so families can take a break from hospital life or do simple things like wash clothes and prepare a meal. The partnership fundraising will also allow CLIC Sargent to extend the grants it offers to families to ease the financial burden of cancer, which is on average £600 a month per family.

Rory Traynor, Corporate Account Manager at CLIC Sargent, said: “Kevin is an inspiration and just shows how a bit of determination can transform your life. His efforts will make a huge difference to our families – so from everyone at CLIC Sargent, thank you!”

Claire Herrick, Fundraising Engagement Manager at CLIC Sargent, added:

“Kevin and his Morrisons colleagues are taking on a truly epic challenge, not only conquering 8 peaks, but also braving the elements of the Polish/Slovakian winter."

"We rely entirely on voluntary donations to fund our work, and give all of our support to families for free, so it’s only through the support of people like Kevin that we are able to continue to fight for young lives against cancer.”

For more information, please contact Ellie Agnew, communications officer, on 07771 824 563 or by emailing ellie.agnew@clicsargent.org.uk.

About cancer in children and young people

Today, 11 more children and young people in the UK will hear the devastating news that they have cancer. Treatment normally starts immediately, is often given many miles from home and can last for up to three years. Although survival rates are over 80%, cancer remains the single largest cause of death from disease in children and young people in the UK.

About CLIC Sargent

When cancer strikes young lives CLIC Sargent helps families limit the damage cancer causes beyond their health. CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading charity for young cancer patients and their families. We provide specialist support, to help and guide each young cancer patient and their family. We will fight tirelessly for them, individually, locally and nationally. For more information, visit www.clicsargent.org.uk

Note to sub editors

Please note that the name ‘CLIC Sargent’ should not be abbreviated to CLIC, and that the word ‘CLIC’ should always appear in capitals, as above.  

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