A self-confessed cat lover has started her fund-raising for an adventure of a lifetime in aid of a good cause.
Hannah Bolam, who has lived in the Morpeth area for most of her life, is aiming to get the minimum amount of £3,690 to go on a mountain trek and do some important work at a national park that will help with tiger conservation.
The trip to India is being organised by the Cats Protection charity and all of her sponsorship money raised will go directly to the East Northumberland branch.
After flying into Delhi and boarding an overnight train to Pathankot, participants will transfer to the stunning hill station of Dharamshala, which is surrounded by dense forest.
They will then undertake four days of trekking over various terrain for up to eight hours a day – camping in basic campsites along the way.
Although this area is known as the Lesser Himalayan range, they will still reach altitudes of up to 2,843m. The highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis, is 1,344m at its peak.
Following the trek, the group will return to Delhi and take a flight and a road transfer to the Kanha National Park.
The following three days will be spent learning about, and getting involved with, conservation activities in this area under the guidance and direction of park officials.
Hannah said: “I’ve never done anything like this before, so I’m really looking forward to the challenge.
“The trek will be no walk in the park. No electricity, no showers and no flushing toilet, trekking for up to eight hours a day and camping under the stars in the mountain wilderness.
“But I’m sure it will be a great experience and I’m very excited about going to parts of India that not many tourists will see.
“At the national park, we will be going on a few safaris and hopefully we will spot a few tigers as well as other animals such as monkeys, wild boar, deer and jackals.
“When we are there, it will have just re-opened after the monsoon season and we’ll be doing weeding, habitat maintenance and other bits and pieces to help get it fully back to working order.
“We’ll do some tree planting and see the efforts that are made to protect the animals and environment at the park, and there is also a possibility of helping with a tiger conservation lesson at a local school.
“Cats have been in the family all my life and I love all cats, big and small.
“I had been looking to do a memorable trip abroad and when I came across this one, it was ideal because it combined a trek and tiger conservation experience with supporting Cats Protection, which I have donated to in the past.
“The East Northumberland branch does a lot of important work in the area and as it’s the nearest branch to me, I though it would be appropriate to give the money I raise to the branch.”
According to the information issued for the trek, participants will experience lush green forests, views of snow-capped peaks, deep valleys, gushing rivers and small villages with friendly and welcoming local people.
The trip will take place in October 2017 and the deadline for fund-raising is July 2017.
Hannah grew up in Morpeth and attended Stobhillgate First School, Chantry Middle School and King Edward VI School.
She went to Newcastle University and graduated in 2013 (her degree subject was philosophical studies). The 24-year-old currently lives in Whalton and works for Namco Games at its entertainment area in Newcastle Airport.
Her mum Sue has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and her dad Davy is often outdoors as he is a long-time member of Morpeth Camera Club.
As well as running regularly, Hannah will join her parents on walks and hikes in the Cheviots and along the Northumberland coast, among other places, as part of her training.
She thanked family and friends for being very supportive since she told them about the trip.
“A few were a bit shocked to find out what I will be doing during the trip, but no-one was surprised with the charity I’m raising money for,” she added.
“I’ve now started the fund-raising. I’m highlighting it in my workplace, I’m hoping to have a stall at big events and shows in the local area over the next 16 months, I have been drafting out letters to send to supermarkets to do some bag packing and I will also be contacting businesses to see if they would like to make a donation.”
Hannah has set up an online fund-raising page – www.justgiving.com/hannahs-tiger-trek
For more information about the East Northumberland branch of Cats Protection, call or text 07749 713142 or visit http://east-northumberland.cats.org.uk