In our regular story series Mighty Oats for Mighty People, Mornflake meets inspirational people worldwide to talk stellar achievements, complex challenges and incredible accomplishments.
This month we meet key worker Steve Laws who is literally going to great heights to raise money for NHS Charities Together. Since December Steve, aged 42, has conquered 21 of the highest peaks in Cheshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire and plans to take on more after the current lockdown.
Steve’s epic journey began back in December when he set out to conquer 20 peaks by the end of 2020. He did that and more, raising a sizeable sum for the charity and its profile. The drive for tackling so many challenges is one close to his heart.
Can you tell us a bit more about your work raising money for the NHS Charities Together and how you had the idea to start the peaks challenge?
My sister is a nurse in critical care and I work as a lead technician for sterile services, processing surgical instruments. I’ve seen first-hand the enormous strain doctors and nurses are under. The pandemic has shone a spotlight on just how hard everyone works, from front-line colleagues to staff behind the scenes. The vaccine roll-out offers hope, but for now the pressure is immense.
Tell us about your climb experience and where it has taken you so far.
Other than climbing Snowdon twice, I’m a novice. I bought all the right gear, protective clothing and boots and first aid kit including an emergency whistle and torch. My first climbs were Shining Tor in Cheshire and The Roaches in Staffordshire. Others have included Windgather Rocks 416m, Cat’s Tor 522m and Shutlingsloe 506m. All great challenges in themselves.
How has this taken its toll on you?
I have used my days off and weekends to climb. Physically I’m in great shape after losing body fat and gaining muscle. It’s helped me mentally too. The sense of achievement when I reach the top has increased my mental resilience and rewarded me with stunning panoramic views. I’ve invested in a selfie stick to record each summit. It has a tripod but it’s often too windy or snowy to stay in the ground!
What has been your greatest obstacle?
The weather. Blizzard conditions in which I couldn’t see my hand out-stretched and snow, often up to my knees. Coming down The Roaches was pretty scary. It rises to 505m and was very slippery on descent. As lockdown approached, I realised I would have to crack on to meet my target and did three climbs in a day. The best views I’ve had so far were from Shining Tor, Cheshire at 559m, Cheek’s Hill (520m) Staffordshire and Axe Edge (551m) Derbyshire. I felt on top of the world.
What does a typical morning look like for you – do you fuel up with any particular breakfast?
It’s often not just the climb, but a long walk from parking my car to the base. So I need a good porridge breakfast to keep energy levels up. I’m local to Crewe where Mornflake has its mill and I like the texture of their porridge oats. They also do a lot for local charities. My pack is also stocked up on oat bars for snacks.
Your fundraising has won the admiration of many people on Facebook where more than £500 has been donated. Do you have any challenges you are looking to complete next?
I’m going to keep going! I set out to complete 20 peaks and have done 21 – an extra one in memory of Captain Sir Tom Moore. As soon as restrictions permit, I will head out to my next peak, probably Derbyshire after an early morning start and a big bowl of Mornflake porridge.