I’m so incredibly proud of everyone on the Virgin Strive Challenge team who made it to the summit – even dodging rockfalls to get there. I’m even more glad they all got back in one piece.
My dad and the team decided not to tell anyone about their close call until they were safely back down as they didn’t want to worry us. There were so many hugs and tears of relief last night as they recounted how they were crossing the Gouter Couloir and a shower of rocks the size of small cars rained down on them. Luckily they managed to hide themselves and stay safe, but it was emotional hearing Noah describe how he thought he had lost them. You can read more about what happened over on my dad’s blog.
In previous years I’ve been alongside dad, Sam and Noah on the Virgin Strive Challenge but I couldn’t take part this year as I am expecting my third baby. I’ve found it so much harder waiting and worrying at the bottom than being with the team and being a part of the action. Being in the dark and not knowing how they’re getting on has been quite a challenge – as they often don’t have any signal and are too busy keeping themselves safe to check in. I don’t know how my mum’s done it over the years with dad’s many adventures! I’ve been in Chamonix to wish them luck before they went and to celebrate finishing the challenge.
The team found out they had raised more than £1m for Big Change when they got back to the bottom and they all said it made the whole gruelling month-long challenge feel worthwhile. Previous challenges have raised more than £2.4m in total and we have supported projects such as teacher wellbeing, early years learning and school exclusions.
I’ve been doing my bit at home to support the team and the projects that Big Change support. I wrote last week how I visited The Difference with Princess Beatrice. It’s so shocking that there are kids as young as six in these pupil referral units, but I’m glad projects like The Difference are helping them thrive and helping to reduce school exclusions. Big Change has also supported great projects such as Frontline and Voice 21. By 2020 Frontline will have trained 1,000 social workers and 420 social work managers; and Voice 21 will have trained 1,500 teachers in how to best teach oracy – important for critical thinking, social skills and employability. That’s big change.