View Full Version : Chris avoids bloodshed on charity trek

11th March 2005, 04:41 PM
A Roydon mother of two flew into the middle of an armed struggle on her way to take part in a charity challenge.

Chris Leighton, 43, was part of a 17-strong group who travelled to Nepal in order to complete a Himalayan trek in aid of East Suffolk MIND but found themselves face to face with gun-toting Maoists rebels.
They had called a nationwide transport blockade after King Gyanendra dissolved the nation's government and seized power in February, leading to bloodshed all over Nepal.

The rebels' move almost stopped Chris from making the final leg of her trip. She was left stranded in Kathmandu airport for the best part of the day while the decision was made on whether her party could make the journey to the area where their trek would begin.

She said: "We were split into two groups and the first group flew to Phaplu (where the trek would begin) but we didn't. We were held there for an age and we were told it was because of bad weather.

"But after lots of changes of plan we were eventually allowed to fly out to Phaphlu as well."

Phaphlu, midway between mountains Kathmandu and Everest, was in the full grip of violence with nine Maoist rebels killed the day Chris and her fellow trekkers flew in to what she described as a "very intimidating" atmosphere.
Her group, already two-days behind the other group of trekkers, then had to immediately walk for six hours solid to catch them up and get back on schedule a "real shock to the system", according to Chris.

"When we reached the base of the mountains the Maoists were camping with us and we had an odd situation where we were eating our evening meal with them just looking at us," she said.

"I just kept thinking that no tourists had been hurt before and that nothing would happen to us. I just kept a positive mental attitude regarding the whole situation."

After paying the rebels cash the next morning so that the trekkers could be guaranteed safe passage through the mountains, Chris got her charity challenge under way.

However, they were unable to follow their pre-determined route with killings in a certain area meaning they could not visit a school which was benefiting from their trip.

After all the drama, Chris got to see the tip of Everest and described the trek as "the most amazing experience ever".

Chris raised 3,000 for East Suffolk MIND and said she would be meeting up with her fellow trekkers including Heather Babb, of Wilby, and Karen Searson, of Yoxford in a month's time.

Chris went on to thank the generosity of those connected with Diss Rugby Club, with whom she has close links, Fresh Cut Herbs and the pupils at Thetford Grammer School who donated 245 following a non-uniform day.
11 March 2005