A muddy, mad way to raise money

116 hardy souls braved the mud, cold and wind on Saturday to raise money for Saint Francis Hospice by taking on the Mud N Madness challenge at Stubbers Adventure Centre in Upminster.
Pic E Tom Andrews James Purcell and Josh Ogunkanmi from SEIB resized (cropped)
Among them was RAF cadet civilian instructor 40-year-old Marie Fricker from Dagenham.

"It was brilliant and I can't wait to do it again next year," said Marie (pictured at a slightly dodgy moment on the rope bridge). "I had surgery on my thigh year ago so I was really pleased that I was able to do everything the course threw at me. One of the best bits was wading through the muddy water. I kept feeling myself sinking down but everyone just encouraged you to keep moving!" 

James Diags Bennwith and girlfriend
Marie was devastated when her closest friend Denise Sampson died at Saint Francis Hospice in September 2014 after losing her five year battle with cancer. But her grief spurred her into action and she joined forces with Denise's husband Alan Sampson from Hornchurch to take part in the Mud N Madness challenge. 

"The hospice staff were amazing to Denise, her family and to me. I have lost a lot of family members over the years but losing Denise so young was the hardest. We were best friends for 27 years and went to school together."

James "Diags" Bennewith from reality TV show The Only Way is Essex also took part along with his girlfriend Fran Parman. Before setting off James posed for pictures with Redbridge Volunteer Police Cadets who were about to undertake the mud challenge.  

James Diags Bennwith and girlfriend
Also completing the event were two nurses on the hospice's inpatient unit. Emma Mansell from Great Warley and Maria Bishop from Navestock Heath completed the event as part of their fitness training in preparation for completing the London marathon in April. 

"It was great fun. They had changed some parts of the course from last year and that made it even better than last year. We are already looking forward to doing it again next year," said Maria.

Anna Newton and five work colleagues took part in the event in memory of Anna's ex-work colleague Elizabeth Wenborn, a young mother who was cared for by Saint Francis Hospice.

"We've managed to raise more than £1,400 for the hospice. The event was great, apart from the wind! That made getting back across the lake in the canoe a real challenge" said Anna. 

James Diags Bennwith and girlfriend
South Essex Insurance Brokers from South Ockendon had no less than 24 of their employees taking part in the event. . 

Team Leader Donna Leavens said; "In the past it's been very cold and icy so this year it wasn't so bad. My colleague Nicola Gillespie was the fastest woman completing the course in 53 minutes and four of our team were in the top 25 so they did pretty well. It was a lot of fun and we'll definitely take part again next year!"

Lena Quilley from Thurrock was another member of the SEIB team and she brought along her husband Kevin (pictured below). Lena said: "We had a great time and are proud to raise money for Saint Francis Hospice. The raft event just proved that after 18 years of marriage we can still work as a team! Kevin knows who's in charge."

James Diags Bennwith and girlfriend
Linda Borg from the hospice's fundraising team said: "The weather was awful so I have to say a huge "well done" to everyone who braved the elements and the challenges of the course to help raise the money we desperately need. It was a lot of fun too though and we're so pleased that so many people have already said they want to do the event again next year."

James Diags Bennwith and girlfriend
From left to right: Anna Newton, Claire Foster, Louise Turner, Kate Ash, Kirsty Vassay, and Lorna Harris

James Diags Bennwith and girlfriend
 Marie Fricker (number 432) with Alan Sampson's cousin Cara Nullmeyers from Hornchurch (433) at the start of the event

James Diags Bennwith and girlfriend Saint Francis Hospice nurses Maria Bishop (left) and Emma Mansell (right) together with hospice fundraiser Torren Mahmut (at the back) and Anita Hasslett.

James Diags Bennwith and girlfriend
Proudly clutching their Mud N Madness medals, and feeling a little chilly after completing the challenge are Fran Parman and James "Diags" Bennewith.

Thanks to volunteer photographers Peter Henwood ,Tony Andrews and Kellie Green for pictures