Snowdon Rocks 2015 - 500 supporters summit with LHS

Snowdon Rocks 9

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As I look out on a beautiful sunset over Snowdon this evening, the memories of a perfect day roll in. The boots and poles are packed away for another hike but the experience of our 9th Snowdon Rocks will live with me forever.  I love coming home for Snowdon Rocks, following our epic climbs of Ben Nevis. Snowdon Rocks traditionally follows Ben Nevis Rocks a week later and the sprits are always high as Snowdon Rocks approaches.  I find it invigorating to head high into the peaks. There’s nothing like it, to clear the head and focus the mind. It’s a  peaceful and well-mannered world 3000 feet up and I love it!

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As we assembled at Penyceunant Tearooms, hosted by our dear friend, Steffan who has fed and watered us though 9 years of Snowdon Rocks, we begin laying out the foundations to greet the 500 trekkers who would arrive by 9am. It’s all about the detail and Mike is extremely detailed!  There are flags, drapes, the PA, staging, T shirts,  swabbing.. and our brilliant team of volunteers set to that task. Big thanks to Dave Spragg (currently batting liver and bowel cancer), Lydia Franklin, Dave Jennings and Sue Owens who worked so hard throughout the day to make sure people were registered for the Big Climb.

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This year we have partnered up with ‘Awyr Las/ Blue Skies’ the NHS charity for North Wales to launch the “By Your Side” campaign, as in “Walk Forever By Your Side”…a 3 year Campaign to raise £351,120 for North Wales Cancer Care, with each pound representing the step that Mike and I will walk in 2017 between Bangor, Glan Clwyd & Wrexham Hospitals.

We are very grateful to be working with the amazing Kirsty Thompson of ‘Awyr Las/Blue Skies and her passionate team, Patrick Roberts, Cath Humes & Tracey Wright. Together, Love Hope Strength and Awyr Las have partnered up to create an ambitious day of music, hiking and community spirit for Snowdon Rocks. Behind the scenes, since the launch of #byyourside back in November last year, we have raised over £154,000 for the  By Your Side Campaign, together  with the sterling support of our local community. Mike and I have visited schools in North Wales and rehearsed with choirs of  all ages. It has been a heartening and positive experience to unite friends and family, (thank you Peter, Dottie, Andy & Sarah Foley Jones), work colleagues of North Wales, together with  the Alarm community  who are always so incredibly supportive of all of our adventures.

As we all assembled together, the weather was dry and there was a real sense of anticipation as a local brass band from Ysgol Bontnewydd roused the emotions for the challenge ahead! With speeches from Mike and Kirsty, we were also delighted to be joined by Sky News’ presenter, Bryn Law, legendary Welsh Football Captain, Barry Horne and BBC Wales’  Weather Gurus, Derek Brockway and Sue Charles…

I’ve set off up the Llanberis path many times but every trek is different. I’ve trekked with Mike in my 20’s and now I trek as a mother with two sons in tow  (it’s easier to trek Ben Nevis without kids, haha) but each trek is a learning curve. It’s all about discipline and “not giving up”…. There are some incredible dark moments as you climb mountains but the community spirit that floods Snowdon Rocks, sustains everyone to keep on going…

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As I plod up the mountain with the kids in tow, tugging on  my camelback,  (much easier climbing the really difficult Ben Nevis on my own than climbing Snowdon with the kids in tow haha), it’s very humbling to meet up with the different trekkers that have decided to join us on Midsummers’ Day, climbing the highest mountain of England & Wales. I meet so many different people, all with such different stories and different reasons for climbing Snowdon. It’s an amazing feeling.. tuning in with all these incredible people who have all made such an effort, raising huge amounts of sponsorship along the way.At the Halfway Cafe, we were treated to a mountainside concert..  One Guitar,  Wonderwall, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door…a moving moment when we remember those we have lost and those who are battling with cancer… Festival of Remembrance. There are so many emotional stories to share… Howard the Chaplain of Glan Clwyd Hospital, whose ashes were scattered upon the summit today… John from the Rotary who was inspired to sponsor the Strength Train after watching Snowdon Rocks from the foot of Snowdon last year with his very poorly wife who sadly lost her battle a few days later, having longed to join us on the summit… Special mention to our very dear friends, Irfon Williams and Dave Spragg, both who are battling Bowel/Liver cancer. Both Dave and Irfon have an incredible positive attitude to their struggle and we wholeheartedly support Irfon Williams and his amazing wife, Becky’s campaign. (Please check out #hawlifyw and lend your support)The Halfway Cafe  always triggers memories of Geraint, the dear departed brother of Alwena who owns the Halfway Cafe. Geraint had Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia and was treated alongside Mike at the Alaw Ward, Ysbyty Bangor. Sadly, Geraint lost his battle 3 years ago and it has always been very sobering for Mike and I to lose Geraint to CLL at such an early age in his forties…Special prayers to Geraint’s wife and his four children who live in Snowdonia…

On we trudged… Trudge is a good word to sum up climbing Snowdon in “difficult conditions”… At this point, I should mention the weather. Despite having my dear mate, Derek Brockway and the lovely Sue Charles in attendance, the weather, lets be fair,  was pretty horrendous on the top. My dear friend and chwaer, Delyth Hamilton Williams, joined me for the final ascent…and together, we were bent double with laughter as we approached the summit….. Summer in Wales! Fog fog fog!  GIve me love hope and strength! It didn’t deter us though… we laughed, we cried, we cajoled we plodded, we trudged, all with our own individual reasons for tackling our beloved Snowdon…

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On the summit, it was chaos!  I had no idea where my boys were! I could only hope that my assembled friends were in control… Thank you Super Dads and Happy Fathers’ Day to Davey Garnett-Highes, Berwyn Williams and Andy Knapp!  Oh and Mikey Boy Peters and my amazing Dad, Peter Foley Jones!  Luckily I bumped into Derek and things soon warmed up as  we sipped our paneds and looked out at the hardest working man in rock. Mikey Boy Peters, who played a half hour gig on the Station Summit Platform for  the Strength Train,  which arrived with 80 cancer patients who were unable to make the climb. It was an emotional moment for everyone… This Train Bound for Glory, Rock this Town, High on the Hill, Time of My Life, All Together Now…

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Dylan, Evan and I were reunited on the summit and they were soon tugging and sipping on my camelback (did i mention that it’s far easier climbing the unbelievably challenging Ben Nevis without children, than climbing Snowdon with the kids haha)… Special mention for Georgio, aged 11 who is already so significant in supporting LHS…

Meanwhile back down at the foot of Snowdon, at Electric Mountain in Llanberis,  and the Snowdonia Train Platform, there were choirs, harpists, bands, vocalists  & swabbers,  entertaining those who were unable to climb the mountain.. and we were very grateful and inspired to see the local Llanberis folk, displaying the Love Hope Strength green bunting outside their houses on the approach to Snowdon… Special thanks to the Rotary who sponsored the ‘Strength Train’ as well as marshalling water stations en route to the summit and generally making Snowdon Rocks 9 a day to remember! Not forgetting the Sold Out Strength Bus!  We even signed up 100 people to the Bone Marrow Donor Registry!  Saving LIves One Hike at a Time!  Diolch yn fawr iawn to Cor Cofnod, Cor Ysgol Brynrefail, Andy Beaumont, Arron Cooper, Julie Bulman, Connah Evans, Magi Tudur, Y Galw, Something Personal, Castles, Fleur De Lys, Yr Ymylon, Martyn Ellis, Skin Tight Poncho, Straight Jacket Legends, Storyville Mob, Dyf, Arron Cooper, Rhys Morris, Sera & Jenn, Andrew Dawes, Lucas Labrow, Dave & Jude Rowley & the legendary Snowdon Veteran, Chris Summerill…

We give special mention to David & Nicola Johnston, an inspiring couple from Scotland who climbed Ben Nevis with us last week as part of their 8 peaks in 8 days challenge… and finished with us by climbing Snowdon, raising a huge amount of funds along the way. Together with Mickey Collins, who cycled from Ben Nevis, via Scafell to join us for Snowdon. Mickey has raised £10,000 for Love Hope Strength…. These people are remarkable and it’s an honour to hike alongside them!As the Strength Train began it’s descent, we all followed… plodding and trudging our way through the fog, only to be rewarded with the most magnificent sight of Snowdonia as the fog lifted its cloak… This is the reason why we hike… for these life-defining moments which become imprinted on the mind, sustaining us through the ups and downs of life..Big thanks to all the parents and friends of Dylan and Evan who attend Ysgol Dewi Sant… it was so amazing to see you all joining us for Snowdon Rocks. We look forward to Dewi Sant Rocks next month! Special mention to Leslie from Prestatyn’s Finns swimming School, recently recovered from bowel cancer, who hiked down with us, making new friends along the way… So many more incredible  Love Hope Strength stories  so please email me [email protected] with your stories when you have a moment..  (You girl, who descended on crutches!)…It was also really incredible to  hike with so many health workers from North Wales… Mike and I have both been so fortunate to receive the best medical care in North Wales, care of the National Health Service, It was so lovely to hang out with Sharon Thomas, Rebecca Williams, Manon Ogwen Williams, Jackie Jones, Alison Griffiths and company! Bubbly and strawberries at 9am!  You Girls Rock!As we trickled back into Penyceunant Cafe at the foot of Snowdon and the welcoming arms of Steffan and a Celtica beer (Great Orme Brewery), we were all hyped up for the evening ahead at the Heights in Llanberis.  Thanks to my dear girlfriends, Delyth Hamilton Williams and Leanne Knapp for literally always being supportive and #bymyside as well as being fantastic roadies, dismantling the PA… I  became reunited with my children who were frolicking with their many mates around the fields of Penyceunant and in a flash we were all transported to the Heights in Llanberis where all the Snowdon trekkers were assembled, exchanging stories from the day and looking forward to hearing the talents of North Wales, topped off by an appropriate Mikey Boy Peters set of Snowdon-inspired  songs… Breathe, By Your SIde, Rain in the Summertime (!), Spirit of ’76, Rescue Me, 68 Guns, Blaze of Glory and Love Hope Strength…So as I reflect, with the shadows of Snowdonia lingering above, I would like to thank you all for joining us this year. It was immense to bump into neighbours along the way and feel the power of the  love hope and strength of the #byyourside campaign. Tomorrow, I meet with Kirsty to plan the Big One, Snowdon Rocks 10! I hope all those who have hiked this weekend and many more will be inspired to join us next June 2016… It really is a lot of fun!

Special thanks to Andy Labrow, our intrepid Love Hope Strength photographer, whose captures of the day follow soon!

Love hope and strength and blue skies ahead

Jules Peters

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Click Here For The Official Photos