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My Award-Winning Charity Challenge

Posted: 15/02/2013 09:21

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Last year I felt very proud and privileged to be named JustGiving Celebrity Fundraiser of the year, an award given in recognition of my '737 Challenge', which raised funds in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care.

In 2011, I became the first ever person to climb the highest mountain on each of the world's seven continents and stand on all three poles (North Pole, South Pole and summit of Everest) within seven months.

I guess my 737 Challenge captured people's imaginations for a number of reasons. Nobody had even attempted such an expedition before, and I certainly had a bit of a rollercoaster ride along the way; from delays in Antarctica, porter strikes in West Papua to contracting frostbite on Everest.

I developed frostbite after reaching the summit of Everest and with the possibility that I might lose my toe and maybe even my foot, I had to make the tough decision to climb the final two mountains with my toe half hanging off!

Then, on the first day of climbing Denali - the highest mountain in North America - I fell down a crevasse and was pretty lucky to get out alive. There were certainly some hairy moments!

But I was immensely proud that my challenge raised funds in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care. They're are an awesome charity and as many people at some point in their lives are affected by cancer I think people were not only inspired by my efforts during the expedition but really believed in the cause I was trying to help along the way.

The thing I am most proud of though, and hopefully part of why I won the award over the likes of David Walliams, Michael Vaughan and Scott Mills, was proving what can be achieved with just a very small group of passionate, creative volunteers and a lot of hard work and dedication.

The 737 Challenge raised over £320,000 and I'm really proud that it provided such an amazing platform for me to not only fundraise in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care but to promote the incredible work that their nurses and hospices do. To have the challenge seen by over 63 million people and produce the equivalent effect of an advertising campaign worth £2.1m for Marie Curie was fantastic.

It was very humbling to receive the JustGiving Celebrity Fundraiser of the Year Award when there were so many inspiring people in the room who had done such incredible things for great causes. I had such amazing support from the general public along the way, through every leg of the 737 Challenge and throughout the 12 months of constant fundraising that followed.

I think sports men, women and celebrities have a unique opportunity to help others. It's not for everyone, but being able to do something you love, challenging yourself, whilst helping others is extremely rewarding and a privilege.

I don't know much about the candidates for this year's shortlist but I am sure they are all worthy contenders (you can vote here for the one that inspires you). I have been busy the last year fundraising and then preparing for my latest expedition and I've just got back from my quest to ski solo, unsupported and unassisted from the coastline of Antarctica to the South Pole.

I have a busy year ahead preparing for my next world-first in 2014, many brutal training expeditions to throw myself in to, plus my book to finish.

Good luck to everyone nominated at this year's JustGiving Awards, I hope this year's event is as successful as the last. Hopefully next year I'll be back on the list again and in the country able to enjoy a night at the awards.

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