Supporting a good cause is often a private and personal thing. But there are ways of doing these things through teamwork, and having a great time while doing it. A fine example came in May 2023 when a team from the professional services firm KPMG decided to raise money to honour the memory of their colleague Marty Stephens.
Marty had a passion for climbing and the outdoors, so the KPMG people chose to raise funds by a tough mountain walk, the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge; and to donate the money raised to the Scottish Mountaineering Trust. A perfect match!
Marty’s energy and can-do attitude were infectious, to the point that no challenge or target was too great; he would always say “Don’t worry, we’ll smash it!”, which is where the “Smash It Challenge” got its name. At the time of his tragic death, he had been planning to gather a team to walk the 3 Peaks, bringing together his passion for the great outdoors with the importance of building team spirit and collaboration.
He loved to explore and, being based in Edinburgh, would often be heard telling stories of his latest weekend adventures in the Highlands. As his KPMG colleagues put it, “Marty was a Scot who loved climbing and the outdoors; we couldn’t think of a better organisation then the SMT to support and honour him with.”
The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge is a 24-mile circuit of Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough with over 5,000 feet of ascent. Early in May, 75 hikers from KPMG descended on a sleepy and remote village on a Thursday evening. The next morning they split into four groups, the first setting off in rain and thick cloud at 6.30am and the last group by 7.30. Completions began around 8 hours later, in the rain; the final hikers made it within 12 hours, with stunning sunshine on the final peak.
The walkers had a fantastic day with anecdotes aplenty – from those whose Garmin watches “lied”, adding 10km to their route, to those who started slow and finished strong. Participants noted a great sense of personal pride and particularly enjoyed the community feel. Some had never been on a walk of this type before, and so were introduced to the pleasures of hillwalking and of a hearty meal at the end of a long day.
The day brought many tales and moving poems about Marty’s grit, determination, sense of humour, and love for his family, friends and colleagues. He and his great thirst for adventure were very much in everyone’s thoughts during the event, and a lot of proud hikers toasted him at the end, vowing to keep his legacy alive with an annual fundraising event.
The team had set a fundraising target of £20,000 and, true to Marty’s legacy, realised whilst actually out on the walk that they had smashed their target! Over subsequent weeks, fundraising exceeded £27,000 and was still rising.
Marty, the organisers said, would have wanted to encourage people to “get out there” to enjoy the wild beauty of our national parks, and appreciate the work that organisations like the SMT do to preserve these special areas for future generations to enjoy. “The Three Peaks was a resounding success and next year’s event is already in mind – perhaps we’ll go to the Scottish hills for a challenge of a different kind!”
Main fundraising page for the Marty Stephens Smash It Challenge: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/MartyStephensSmashItChallenge
About the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge: https://www.threepeakschallenge.uk/yorkshire-three-peaks-challenge/
Smash it! Main fundraising page: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martystephenssmashitchallenge