Wheelchair-bound rider to climb Everest on horseback

  • A rider with cerebral palsy is looking for other adventurers to join in a trek to Everest base camp in aid of the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA).

    Max Stainton is to ditch his wheelchair in Katmandu and pick up the reins of a Nepalese horse in what is thought to be the most ambitious fundraiser ever undertaken for the charity.

    Max is being accompanied on the trek by his girlfriend Candy as well as RDA volunteers Livi Shaw and Giles Newton, who met Max at the Hyde Park RDA group.

    The team are hoping to find around 15 other participants to help fund the expedition, which will take place in spring 2018.

    The trip will raise money for a new RDA national training centre — the first of its kind for the charity — which is being built at Lowlands Farm in Max’s home county, Warwickshire.

    The finance professional has already begun his training for the demanding 12-day ascent, riding for up to six hours at a time on Giles’s family farm in Leicestershire.

    “The Hyde Park group is a very sociable RDA group and we often go for drinks afterwards,” Giles explained. “Max kept saying ‘wouldn’t it be great if I could ride up a mountain to raise money for the RDA’, as he’s been riding with them since he was five years old.

    “We knew it would be a logistical nightmare but Max has a forward thinking and infectious personality, and he kept talking about it. Eventually we found a lead to a company called Adventure Alternative run by Gavin Bates. He’s climbed Everest six times himself and he thought it was achievable.

    “He was also able to assure us on the welfare standards of the horses out there,” Max added. “They are used to help people off the mountain and are used to weight-bearing. They are owned by the Sherpas and we’ve seen some amazing photos of them sleeping next to them.”

    Giles and Livi will be walking alongside Max during the trek, which will entail gruelling eight-hour stints in the saddle.

    “Max struggles to walk unassisted on the flat, so out of the saddle at base camp he will find it hard to walk for more than a minute or so,” Giles said. “He also tires quickly and can have issues regulating temperature, so there will be challenges.”

    Giles is hoping the ambitious journey will also shine the spotlight on RDA volunteers and encourage others to participate.

    “Lack of volunteers can limit the amount of riders who can benefit from joining the RDA — and the benefits are huge,” he said. “My mother and grandmother were previously RDA volunteers and I joined in after I moved to London.

    “Just leading a horse round can have a major impact on someone’s life. We have some riders who travel huge distances across London just to get to Hyde Park because it means so much to them. It’s a real shame if we can’t run a session because of lack of help.”

    The trek to Everest base camp costs around £1,200 excluding flights and anyone interested in applying to take part can contact the Riding Everest team at hello@ridingeverest.com

    Anyone wishing to donate to the campaign can do so via a fundraising page, or for more information visit the challenge’s website.

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