Search

Lowestoft father goes to great heights for charity trek in sister’s memory

PUBLISHED: 13:39 12 December 2017 | UPDATED: 09:50 19 December 2017

Leon Smith in Machu Picchu. Picture: Courtesy of Leon Smith

Leon Smith in Machu Picchu. Picture: Courtesy of Leon Smith

A father-of-three has gone to extraordinary heights to raise money for a good cause - almost 5,000 feet above sea level in fact.

Leon Smith having completed his trek to Machu Picchu. Picture: Courtesy of Leon Smith Leon Smith having completed his trek to Machu Picchu. Picture: Courtesy of Leon Smith

Leon Smith, 43 of Lowestoft, completed a gruelling trek of the Peruvian mountains in aid of the British Heart Foundation - a charity with particular significance to him.

More than 30 years ago, Mr Smith’s sister Rachel died of a congenital heart disease. She was just 18-months-old at the time.

Since her death, Mr Smith and his family have devoted themselves to fundraising for the charity, but this was his biggest challenge yet.

Setting off from Colombia at the end of September, Mr Smith joined a team of 28 on an expedition across the Andes, finishing in the lost city of Machu Picchu.

Mr Smith said: “The biggest challenge was the altitude, by far. Living in Lowestoft, I am at sea level, so it was certainly a shock to the system.

“The only way I can describe altitude sickness is like the worst hangover of your life, multiplied by 10. You get a throbbing headache and feel confused because your brain is starved of oxygen.”

Fortunately for Mr Smith and his team - which consisted of people from across the country - doctors were on the trek with oxygen supplies to ensure everybody conquered the gruelling challenge.

He added: “The trek ended with us passing through a landmark called the Sun Gate, which looks over Machu Picchu, and the view was breath-taking.

“When we arrived there was not a dry eye in the team, it was such an emotional moment.”

Combined, the team raised more than £48,000 for the charity, with Mr Smith himself contributing more than £3,000.

As well as honouring his sister’s memory, Mr Smith had an added motivation to raise money for the charity, after a close colleague died after a sudden heart attack.

Mr Smith added: “I had always wanted to do something big, so when Martin died, that was the final push I need.

“This feels like a massive achievement. I’m so proud to have been able to raise so much for a cause that is very important to me. I know that with the money going to the British Heart Foundation, it will make a real difference to people’s lives.”

Mr Smith’s Just Giving page remains open for donations.

Other news

Yesterday, 20:02

A damning dossier compiled by a senior whistleblower from the region’s ambulance trust has claimed at least 40 patients died or were harmed due to delays over Christmas and New Year - including one person who froze to death.

Yesterday, 13:40

Residents and councillors have vowed to fight a decision which will see historic archives from Lowestoft and the surrounding area stripped from the town.

Yesterday, 17:33

A competition designed to increase sporting participation among the elderly is set to grace Suffolk.

Yesterday, 16:29

There has been widespread commendation for the efforts of hospital staff who have been battling one of the highest admission rates in the country during the winter crisis.

Most Read

Tue, 12:25

A 40-year-old man has been charged with two counts of engaging in sexual communication with a child.

Read more
Lowestoft
Yesterday, 08:28

Great Yarmouth is set for a tourism spending boost after it was confirmed cruise ships will be docking with hundreds of passengers at the town’s port throughout the year.

Read more
Great Yarmouth Borough Council
Yesterday, 20:02

A damning dossier compiled by a senior whistleblower from the region’s ambulance trust has claimed at least 40 patients died or were harmed due to delays over Christmas and New Year - including one person who froze to death.

Read more
Clive Lewis
Yesterday, 16:29

There has been widespread commendation for the efforts of hospital staff who have been battling one of the highest admission rates in the country during the winter crisis.

Read more
James Paget University Hospital
Yesterday, 16:17

A high profile radio presenter, who grew up in Lowestoft, will return to his hometown next week.

Read more
Rotary Club

Later in Life

cover

Click here to view
the Later in Life
supplement

View

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 4°C

min temp: -0°C

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Lowestoft Journal
e-edition today

Subscribe

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter