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Man who climbed Pen y Fan 365 times in a year is scaling up his challenge

Des Lally and Paul Griffiths, Help for Heroes

An award-winning serial charity fundraiser, who once walked southern Britain’s highest mountain, Pen y Fan, 365 times in a year, is looking to peak again by ascending five mountains, in five countries, across three days – all to raise money and awareness for Help for Heroes and Cancer Research UK.

Des Lally, from Brecon, in mid-Wales, is aiming to climb the highest mountains in Wales, Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Ireland in just 72 hours, in a test of endurance requiring an overall ascent of more than five kilometres, a road trip in excess of 1,000 miles, and two sea crossings.

The 45-year-old mortgage broker – who was recently named the South Wales Evening Post Community Awards’ fundraiser of the year – plans to complete the between 28-30July, and, although he has not set a fundraising target, he did raise more than £60,000 when he repeatedly scaled Pen y Fan, between 2018 and 2019.

The benefiting charities are of personal interest for Lally, as both his parents have been treated for cancer and his father served 26 years in the Irish Guards.

Lally explained: “It’s not simply about the fundraising – though that is, obviously, important – but it’s also about continuing to raise awareness of the two charities. If anything, they’re both needed now more than ever and, because there are so many other things in the news, it’s easy for us, the general public, to forget about them and the marvellous work they do.

“It’s about giving something to two organisations that help unconditionally and to try to ensure they are able to continue to do so. Please help if you can: together we will all make a difference.”

He added: “I wanted to do something mountain-based and, naturally, I knew of the Three Peaks Challenge, so I thought I’d do something a little different and logistically tough. We’re still to work out the finer points of the logistics as we need to look at optimum ferry times, etc, to give us the best possible timescale to complete the challenge.”

In descending order of height, the five peaks Lally has to scale are Ben Nevis (Scotland), at 1,344 metres; Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa (Wales), 1,085m; Carrauntoohil (Ireland), 1,038m; Scafell Pike (England), 978m; and Northern Ireland’s Slieve Donard, at a ‘mere’ 850m.

Help for Heroes’ Area Fundraising Manager, Dean Williams, believes Lally’s dedication to fundraising is an inspiration.

He said: “Des is experienced at these challenges and is an incredible guy. During his year-long Pen y Fan 365 Challenge he experienced extremes of weather from heat waves to blizzards, yet he never gave up his focus to achieve his goal. The thing about Des is he does something most of us couldn’t do once, let alone time and time again. He’s astonishing. We’re completely in awe of his dedication and determination – and are also hugely appreciative.

“The pandemic has proved to be a challenging time for all charities but Help for Heroes remains absolutely committed to our wounded and their families, and, to maintain the support we’re delivering, we continue to rely on the generosity of the great British public and people like the remarkable Des Lally, who goes – literally, in this case – above and beyond.”

Now in its 14th year, Help for Heroes supports those with injuries and illnesses sustained while serving in the British Armed Forces. No matter when someone served, the Charity gives them the support they need to lead active, independent, and fulfilling lives.

Specialist teams focus on the five key areas of an individual’s life: medical, mind, body, spirit, and family. Help for Heroes provides support to the whole family to help them all cope with the challenges they face. Long-term recovery is more than repairing damaged bodies and minds: it’s about rebuilding lives.

To donate to Des Lally’s 5 Mountains, 5 Countries, 3 Days challenge, please visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/DesLally.