A 28-year-old from Birchington and her brother have conquered the Three Peaks Challenge to raise money for children’s cleft lip and palate charity Smile Train.
Olivia Whitbread, 28, and her brother Adam, 31, raised £2,300 for the charity after hiking up Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis -covering 23 miles and 3,064 metres – in 24 hours.
The duo were inspired to fundraise on behalf of Smile Train as Olivia was born with cleft palate and so was Adam’s brother-in-law.
Although Olivia and Adam’s brother-in-law were treated quickly and for free on the NHS, the siblings wanted to help other children internationally that aren’t so lucky, and can face physical difficulties eating, breathing, hearing, and speaking.
Olivia, who is studying criminology and forensics at Canterbury Christ Church University, said: “We completely underestimated how hard it was going to be! We had done training with long walks and going to the gym but the challenge was so much bigger than we imagined.
“But, it was amazing and we were lucky to be with a really supportive group although we were theonly ones walking for Smile Train.
“The charity is quite close to our hearts as I had a cleft palate when I was born and so did Adam’s brother-in-law.
“The Three Peaks was something we always wanted to do and when we decided on a charity it seemed right to do it for Smile Train.”
Smile Train empowers local medical professionals, particularly poorer countries, with training, funding and resources to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care in communities where treatment isn’t readily available.
With cleft surgery costing as little as £150, the pair’s fundraising efforts will cover the cost of more than fifteen life-changing cleft surgeries.
Globally, 1 in 700 babies are born with a cleft lip and/or palate. Children with untreated clefts face physical difficulties eating, breathing, hearing, and speaking. Cleft treatment alleviates many of these difficulties, ultimately enabling them to thrive.
Adam and Olivia have not finished with their fundraising efforts. Next on the list is the London Marathon in October.
Olivia said: “I’m not sure how we have ended up with such challenging things except they are on our bucket list and being able to incorporate it into raising money for charity makes it even more worthwhile.”