Siberian lake challenge

A heart-warming ice challenge – the journey to Lake Baikal begins here

Greg Bower is Forensic Analytics’ Service Delivery Manager. When his daughter Ellie was born suffering from perinatal asphyxia, and was rushed to the Trevor Mann Baby Unit in Brighton – miles away from home – Greg quickly needed to find a place for he and his wife Mel to stay. Mel was herself recovering from lifesaving surgery after giving birth, so they also needed room for Greg’s mum, Sandy, to be there to help.

It was then that they were introduced to the incredible charity that is Ronald McDonald House, a free ‘home away from home’ for families of children being treated at partnered NHS hospitals. Since opening in 1999, Ronald McDonald House has looked after over 3,000 families, offering them not only clean and practical accommodation, but a place of calm and warm support.

Greg, Mel and Sandy spent a week at a Ronald McDonald House in Brighton, within a stone’s throw of Ellie’s ward. So profound was their experience of that week that Greg has set himself a mission to walk approximately 200 miles across Lake Baikal in Siberia to raise money for the charity. He is looking for volunteers to join him in his quest, as well as donors willing to give their financial support – just £25 can support a family for one night.

Intrepid explorers (and everyone else), read Greg’s story below…

Ronald McDonald House in Brighton holds a special place in our hearts. Without it we would have been faced with the prospect of travelling home (a three- to four-hour round trip or 10-hour round trip for my Mum) or paying for a hotel somewhere in Brighton at short notice, which at the time was close to the end of the school holidays and therefore very busy.

With a child in hospital comes challenges that we thankfully don’t face every day, such as trying to be close to the hospital so you can make sure you are there when the doctors do their rounds, finding food that is satisfying, quick and healthy to eat, having somewhere private to sit down and update family members about the situation on the phone. These are the kind of challenges Ronald McDonald Houses help with. By providing a safe, clean, and private space for you they help make some of the worries easier to deal with.

We will always be indebted to the staff and work of the Ronald McDonald House Charity and especially to the Brighton House whose wonderful staff offered us a welcoming and calm sanctuary at a time of great stress and worry.

The mission

As Ellie was “frozen” after being born, the cold helping to give her body time and space to heal, it seems fitting that I undertake this challenge in one of the coldest places on Earth.

With a team of 10 others, I will be walking approximately 200 miles across Lake Baikal in Siberia. We currently have a team of 2 so we’re looking for 10 more intrepid explorers to join us.

At 5,387 feet (1,642 meters) deep and with a surface area of 12,248 square miles (31,722 square kilometres) it is the deepest lake in the world and the seventh largest by surface area. The lake is so large and so deep that it is estimated to hold 20% of the world’s unfrozen fresh water. At an estimated 25 million years old, Lake Baikal is also considered to be the oldest existing lake in the world.

This unique environment provides its own set of challenges, from blizzards, broken ice, snowstorms, and even legends of the lake being haunted. Temperatures on the lake during winter when it is frozen can reach a chilling -21⁰C. To say this provides a unique environment to walk over is putting it mildly.

So, while it’s not for the faint-hearted, the rewards of the ice walk will be immense.

For me, the cold holds so much wonder, from the crisp crunch of the new winter’s frost under your feet to the bite of the winds on your face. But more than this, the sight of Ellie being cooled to hypothermic temperatures to try and save her from serious illness and even save her life, her little hands and toes blue with the cold – that will be my momentum, along with the fantastic support our family received from the Ronald McDonald House in Brighton.

My aim is to raise funds to support this wonderful charity and to help continue their work supporting families at critical times when they need to focus on their children’s treatment.

Keeping families together helps, a cuddle from Mum, a night-time kiss from Dad, or a smile from your brother or sister really helps to support children when they are in hospital which can be a scary place when you are little.

Want to join me on this once in a lifetime adventure and raise money for a brilliant cause? Click on the link below to apply.

Donate to Greg's ice journey on Just Giving

Please give what you can to support this challenge

Donate to Greg's ice journey on Just Giving

Please give what you can to support this challenge