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Daring to Care

27 October 2014: posted by BigChange

Julie Pettifer, the Virgin Care Service Improvement Manager won a place through Virgin Care to be part of the Virgin Strive Challenge. She won the competition by writing a goal she had undertaken, and what she learnt about herself through that experience. Here is her story from the hike..

When I was 18 I experienced a life changing event and made myself a lifetime goal to simply to be the best I can be and to try and make a positive difference in any way I can.

I held this thought in my mind when starting The Haute Route Hike.

Well it was truly an amazing and unique experience and a roller coaster ride with ups and downs in more ways than one! I am terrified of heights so I had to draw on my resilience or ‘stubbornness’ to cope with the higher climbs with sheer drops! My strategy was not to look up or down and just look at the calves of the person in front. By the end of the hike I could tell who the person was in front by their calves! The last 500m of any ascent were a sheer test of endurance as I became slower and slower with the elevation and effort of climbing. The reward of the most stunning views I have ever seen in my life was worth every painful and often terrifying foot.

Talking and getting to know my fellow hikers helped take my mind off my fears and I loved hearing about their lives and often inspirational reasons for joining the hike. I met some amazing people but none more than my most fantastic colleague and now friend Nick Searing whom I did not know before the Hike. Nick is the same age as my eldest son and it was great how the age gap helped us both. We drew on each other’s strengths and experience’s and I found Nick’s energy helped me when the tough got going. His never ending patience when I asked him for the hundredth time if he would grab me my water bottle from the pocket of my rucksack was awesome! I think in turn I helped support Nick, especially when he was unwell one day.

The Hike gave me time out to reflect how tough life can sometimes be! I volunteer for my local county council and I act as a mentor to a young person and her life is tough and she benefits from my experience.

My advice to young people who may be struggling is to never give up and to not to be afraid to ask for help and support especially from an ‘older’ person they feel they can trust.