Grandma’s trek along Great Wall for charity

Maria Gordon on her Great wall of China trek. EMN-171020-134013001
Maria Gordon on her Great wall of China trek. EMN-171020-134013001

A Sleaford area woman celebrated becoming a grandma while raising £6,500 for an RAF charity trekking along the Great Wall of China.

Maria Gordon, flew to Beijing on October 7 to take on an eight-day walk along the Great Wall of China with Global Adventure Challenges to raise money for the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.

In 2012 Maria’s father, Graham Handley, a Chief Technician who served in the RAF for 22 years, was diagnosed with cancer and died three weeks later. Since then Maria has set herself an annual fundraising challenge in his memory which has so far included a swimathon, climbing London’s O2 Arena and a skydive with the Red Devils.

After signing up for this latest challenge, Maria got in training, walking daily around RAF Digby where she works for contractors Serco, as well as trips to the Peak District. Maria lost over four-and-a-half stone in weight prior to departing for China.

She also celebrated becoming a grandmother for the first time while she was out there.

“The highlight was definitely conquering the 1,000 steps up to the wall at Mutianyu, culminating in the ascent of the ‘Heavenly Ladder’ – where we got a medal for finishing the journey,” she said. “Reaching the summit was a very emotional moment.”

Maria said everyone in the group spurred each other on, walking for six hours a day, adding: “In places it was in the mountains and totally cut-off. The stairs are a killer on the knees.

“Some parts of the wall have trees and bushes growing through. Other parts we had to shuffle on our bottoms to avoid falling off.”

Another memorable moment was being served jelly and olives with cold salty cabbage for breakfast and having toilet cubicles without doors.

Maria hoped to raise £2,500, but has reached an astonishing £6,500. Aside from sponsorship, Maria raised funds selling homemade cakes and co-ordinating a pub quiz. She also had stalls at air shows and gathered raffle prizes from local businesses.