St Albans teams get down and dirty in charity challenge for Hospice of St Francis

Holly Latham (centre front) with stepdad Paul Dennison (back far right) and the rest of the Trowley

Holly Latham (centre front) with stepdad Paul Dennison (back far right) and the rest of the Trowley Trotters at the Mud Pack Challenge. - Credit: Archant

A record 900 people braved mud and obstacles as they slid, jumped and waded through The Hospice of St Francis’ filthiest fundraiser of the year – its legendary Mud Pack Challenge.

The sold out event, now in its fourth year, took place in the beautiful but very muddy grounds of Ashridge House and has so far raised a phenomenal £115,000 – a figure expected to rise.

The hospice provides free care and support for patients and families across Herts and Bucks facing life-limiting illness but relies on voluntary donations to fund 80 per cent of its £5 million-plus annual running costs.

Many individuals and teams from across Herts took to the five or 10-mile Mud Pack route for fun, while others took on the challenge in memory of someone special and to thank the charity for the care and support they have received.

Holly Latham, 15, and her stepfather Paul Dennison, from Trowley Hill, Flamstead, were part of the nine-strong Trowley Trotters, who took on the challenge in memory of Holly’s dad Phil, and to support the Hospice which cared for him in the weeks before he passed away in 2010. It was the second year that Holly, a Year 11 pupil at Roundwood Park School in Harpenden, has taken part.

“It was so much fun doing it in a big group and really, really muddy!” she said afterwards, “I was definitely muddier than last year and the atmosphere was great. I laughed nearly all the way round and was pleased and proud of myself that I got round the whole thing. It was tough but really achievable.

“I met a few of Daddy’s friends taking part from the company where he used to work – the Framework Foundation in Watford – and we ran round together, which was really nice. Some of them knew Daddy and some of them didn’t but it was great to run round together and talk about how much Daddy would have enjoyed it.

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“It means a lot to me to take part and give something back,” added Holly, who has so far raised just over £260 to support the hospice. “Every time I do it I get a buzz from knowing I’ve helped. I will always be grateful to the Hospice for the support and wonderful care they have given our family since my dad passed away.”

Holly’s stepfather Paul, who has taken part every year for the last four years and raised thousands of pounds for the Hospice through a variety of marathons and other challenges, added: “We absolutely loved it. The bigger the team, the more fun you have. The Mud Bath finale was fantastic - at the finish, we were covered from head to toe in mud! I can’t think of a better way to have a great laugh and raise a great amount of money for a great cause.”

Claire Goss, 43, from St Albans, who took part with three friends and who has previously run the London Marathon, said: “Everyone I was with really enjoyed it. It was probably easier than I anticipated because it was more about fun than anything else and less competetitive than I expected. It was a really nice, relaxing thing to do and I’d definitely do it again.”

Hospice chief executive Kate Phipps-Wiltshire said: “Mud Pack is immense, you see 900 people covering 5,000 miles and burning 1,000,000 calories between them. You see courage, camaraderie, company support and countless volunteers. What you feel is determination to make a huge contribution borne of love and to test yourself in the process. With £115,000 already raised Mud Pack 2017 does all that. Thank you doesn’t even cover it – unlike the mud!”

Events manager Fran Martin added: “I want to thank everyone who made Mud Pack 2017 happen - from the participants and volunteers to the marshals and all the local businesses who provided their services free of charge to ensure all the money raised goes towards patient care and not on the cost of staging the event.”