Standing on the shoulders of giants

We wish our Chief Executive Rob the very best of luck as he departs to summit Mounts Everest and Lhotse to raise funds and support for our work.

Next month, I will be attempting to climb the highest and fourth highest mountains in the world back to back. Firstly, I will be striving to join the group of 4,000 people who have successfully summited Mount Everest. I will then scale back down and then – provided I have all my digits, mental faculties and the weather is cooperating – attempt to summit Mount Lhotse.

I am nervous – of course. I draw strength from the fact that I have trained hard and will have a wonderful and highly experienced guide accompanying me through this huge challenge in Kenton Cool. I will closely follow the expert advice I am given and not expose myself to too many unnecessary risks. But at the end of the day it will be me alone in minus 30 against an unforgiving, hazardous, ice-sheeted slope which has claimed many brave lives over the years. At 8,848 metres, Everest is a leveller in that respect.

My reason for doing this is because I am inspired. Beyond words - so I have to take actions to express them. I’ve previously undertaken several challenges in aid of St Giles Trust – run marathons pulling artic sledges, tackled the Three Peaks Challenge to name a few. But I never feel like they quite did 100% justice to the incredible work I see on the frontline amongst my team here at St Giles Trust.

Every day, the team save lives. This might be through preventing future victims or through helping some of our most vulnerable clients who are at risk of severe exploitation and danger. It is patient, kindly work that largely goes unseen and unthanked. The Chinese saying is that if you save a person’s life you are responsible for it. That’s an awful lot of responsibility the teams are shouldering.

So in a sense I stand on the shoulders of giants. These are the real heroes of the story and I’m taking this challenge on in their tribute. The enormity of it seems fitting compared to the mountains they have to climb on a daily basis to get our clients a roof over their heads for the night, a fair chance at going for a job – all things that the vast majority of us simply take for granted.

I will be funding this challenge out of my own pocket so all the money I hope to raise will go 100% towards helping the charity I so love deliver more of its much needed life changing work. Finally there is also a very selfish reason to do this venture - it’s my way too of marking my 10th anniversary here as CEO.

But I really would love your support as well. I’m aiming to raise a substantial amount to help these giants continue their work and also raise awareness of St Giles Trust and the issues facing our clients. The issues we work with – prisons, poverty and gangs – rarely make for happy headlines. But there is a lot of positive work going on and I hope by scaling two of the world’s largest mountains I can do a part in raising support for it.

Rob Owen OBE

You can support Rob and follow his updates - from the foot to the top of the mountains - here and watch his latest videos here.

Deputy Chief Executive Malcolm Walker will be acting Chief Executive whilst Rob is away.