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2020/21 has been an extremely challenging year for all societies. This year the Plymouth University Wilderness and Expedition Medicine Society had many grand plans for trips, adventures and teaches across the UK for our members. Although we managed to run two introduction hikes and a committee training day, Covid-19 soon put a stop to all of our fun. With that in mind, we moved our focus to one mega-event towards the end of the year if the restrictions were lifted as planned. After a committee meeting and a discussion regarding our challenge, our Trip Sec Erin brought up the idea of the Dartmoor Way Challenge which we all loved.
'The Dartmoor Way is a 108-mile (174km) circular route around the edges of Dartmoor. The route explores wooded valleys; sparkling streams that tumble off the moor; deep drove-roads and bridleways used for generations by farmers and travellers.'
We planned to have teams of six attempt to complete the route within 48 hours over the weekend of the 1st and 2nd of May 2021! We also decided to have additional teams complete a 52-mile and 36-mile route within 24 hours. To our knowledge this had never been attempted before, so we were to be the originators of the challenge! This crazy challenge had to have a half-decent reason behind putting ourselves through these gruelling challenges. We chose two charities to support with our efforts. Dartmoor Search and Rescue Plymouth team have been great friends to our society through the years as they offer teaches and other training. Also, as we do many trips on Dartmoor it is never a bad idea to have them on your good side! Trevi’s Sunflower Women’s Centre is located very close to the main University of Plymouth campus and many of our society members walk past it every day. As all of the committee members and many of our society members are medical students we are all aware of the issues Plymouth faces and the amazing work that Trevi do within our own community.
“I am so proud of everyone who took part in the event, it was a total success and we raised a lot of money for two fantastic local charities!”
- Dáire Magorrian - President
Our local search and rescue team, DSRT are a voluntary organisation that works to find loved ones and save lives in Plymouth, Dartmoor, and surrounding areas. Their volunteers are available to serve the community and support the emergency services, 365 days a year. In 2020 alone, the team volunteered over 1900 hours on callouts.
Trevi is a nationally award-winning women's charity based in South-West England. They provide safe and nurturing spaces for women and their families to heal, grow and thrive. Their vision is for a society where all women in recovery can access good quality, psychologically informed, gender-based interventions without apology. From rehab and health to housing and employment, they help any woman in recovery move from "surviving" to "thriving".
The Sunflower Centre is the only women’s centre in Plymouth, providing a safe hub for connection and hope. Every year, Sunflower supports and empowers more than 500 local women, many with complex needs and experience of trauma and abuse. Sunflower offers a wrap-around therapeutic service for any woman in need in the City. This could include addictions, mental well-being, health, criminogenic behaviours, domestic abuse and social isolation.
“You have put a big smile on my face! Thank you so much for deciding to support Trevi.”
- Hayley Dann - Fundraising & Marketing Lead Trevi
"At the time of writing, we have currently raised £3200 to be split between these charities!"
There were many hours put into the organisation and training for this event. In January we ran a Strava miles challenge for everyone planning on taking part. In total, we reached over 6000km between 40 people. This is the distance from Plymouth to Venezuela!! The event as a whole was a fantastic experience and total success with the amount of money we raised and the fact that we had three of our members finish the 108-mile challenge, four finish the 52-mile challenge and two teams finish the 36-mile challenge! I personally know that there were many sore legs and feet in the days after the event.
“I loved working alongside some amazing people to do something big and worthwhile for such a great cause.”
- Addy Gorman - Support Crew
The event could not have run as smoothly and as well as it did without a huge effort from everyone involved so from the PUWEMS committee we would like to thank everyone involved in the planning of the event, the running of the event and the support teams from students to the junior doctors in Derriford who kept us all well fed, watered, taped up and encouraged at every step. We would also like to thank Dartmoor Search and Rescue Plymouth Team for manning the Ashburton aid station, the various companies who provided us with food (Clive’s Pies, Friary Mill Bakery, Flapjackery & Barbican Pasty Co) and the SU for providing us with support and the gazebos for use over the weekend!
Finally, a few more personal thank yous from myself, I would like to thank Tom Vincent who ran the logistics on the day, which I know was an extremely stressful job and for keeping everyone safe along the way. A big shoutout has to go to our own Erin Linwood (Trip Sec) and Kat Green (Vice-President) who put in countless hours to make all of these plans a reality! Without the two of you, there is no chance this event could have gone ahead. Amazingly they even found the time to run a medical study based on the aches, pains and issues everyone faced while undertaking the challenge!
Overall, this was a phenomenal experience and I really do hope that everyone who took part enjoyed themselves and is proud of what they achieved and the money they raised! As a committee, this was a great way to sign off our tenure. We cannot wait to see what whacky and wonderful challenges future PUWEMS committees come up with!