Stars Trekking across the universe – well, the Columbian rainforest…

TREKKING through a tropical rainforest to reach a 1,500-year-old lost city… It sounds like the stuff of childhood adventure stories.

But for a group of intrepid charity fundraisers, it is set to become a reality.

A total of 34 people, aged between 23 and 80, are to set out into a tropical rainforest in Colombia to raise money for a charity 5,000 miles away.

The group is trekking to the Lost City of Teyuna in aid of the Stars Appeal, Salisbury District Hospital’s charity.

Their journey will involve walking for up to 12 hours a day, in around 30C heat and 90% humidity, staying in simple communal bunkhouses.

Then, to finally reach the Lost City, they will have to climb 1,200 ancient stone steps.

Here in the UK, they have been taking on weekend walks of between 10 and 12 miles in a bid to ready themselves for the challenge.

Among them will be three-time cancer survivor Colin Ford, from Salisbury.

“During my treatment, I have had more than my fair share of opportunity to benefit from the many facilities funded by the Stars Appeal,” said Colin, who previously trekked to Petra, in Jordan, in aid of the Stars Appeal in 2022.

Colin Ford on his way to Petra, left, and right, mother and daughter team Jayne and Alice Prigent, of Wilton

Colin Ford on his way to Petra, left, and right, mother and daughter team Jayne and Alice Prigent, of Wilton

“These include CT scanners, MRI scanners, specialist observation machines and equipment on the Pembroke Suite and Urology Department and the free Wi-Fi and tea and coffee stations on the wards.

“There’s no doubt the work of the charity made the care I’ve received even better.”

He will be joined by first time trekkers, Dr Helena McKeown and her husband Peter Ewing, from Harnham.

GP Helena said: “It’s brilliant to be raising money for the Stars Appeal. I’ve had four children at Salisbury Hospital as well as having emergency procedures and referrals where I’ve received fantastic care. I have a lot to thank them for.”

She said she could have been forced to give up her job as a GP after breaking her finger 10 years ago, when a rare complication left her unable to use her right hand.

Helen McKeown and Peter Ewing

Helen McKeown and Peter Ewing

“I would have had to retire early,” Helena added. “I have the hospital and their staff at the fracture clinic and occupational therapy to thank for getting my hand working again and enabling me to return to the job I love.”

For Jayne Prigent, from Wilton, owner of JASHAIRGroup, the trip will be her fifth trek for the Stars Appeal and her first time trekking with her daughter, Alice.

They will be trekking as a thank you to the hospital and Stars Appeal for the care their family has received over the years.

The trekkers set off on April 20. All of them have paid for their own trek costs and together hope to raise more than £50,000 for the Stars Appeal.

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