Michelle Neary, Head of Marketing Communications at Covéa Insurance shares her InsureTrek adventure for Insurance United Against Dementia.
Insuretrek18 brings to mind one of my favourite quotes from Nelson Mandela which says “ it always seems impossible, until it’s done”. For me and the 24 fellow insurance types who took part in the recent Insuretrek18, there were moments where we all really thought we couldn’t go on, but with a positive mindset, a lot of laughter and the spirit of friendship, we got through it!
The 3-day trek of the Mont Blanc massif, organised by Simon Cooter, was to raise much needed funds for the Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia UK. For me, it was a personal journey, in memory of my beloved grandmother who died of this horrendous disease several years ago. My memories of her are captured in her lily of the valley scent, the first taste of her home cooked bread and the softness of her voice; my point is that often it’s our senses that invoke memories and, I can confirm with absolute certainty that this trek was a total assault on mine!
Over three days we hiked sixty sweaty painful kilometres of gruelling mountainous terrain, inhaled the scent of fear as we perched on narrow precipices, gawped at the spectacular views, succumbed to the awkward intimacy of sleeping a few inches from fellow trekkers and reinvigorated ourselves with a delicious cold beer at the end of each hard day.
The physical challenge of walking every day for 6 – 7 hours, over difficult terrain with a heavy rucksack was tough. Mine, like everybody’s, carried essentials like a torch, whistle, binoculars, camera, lunch, more energy bars than you could count, 2 litres of water, poles (which were a godsend on the way down the mountain), and enough blister packs for a small nation. Despite how much I drank or ate, the bag never seemed to get any lighter and everyone felt the same.
Some of my best memories of the trek without doubt are the amount of laughter from everyone, the way people dropped back to chat and encourage others who were flagging or finding it tough, and the enthusiasm with which everyone joined in with the most bizarre requests. Some of our warm ups and cool downs were hilarious! Did I think I would see my colleagues doing a salsa warm-up to Pitbull? – no way! Did I think I would see inflexible insurance executives doing yoga or karaoke? – no way and did I think we would together generate over £100k in donations and sponsorship? – Absolutely not!
But, together, with the help of so many people across our industry, we did. So, next time you’re asked to do something and you think you can’t, my advice would be to go for it. You might find, like me that it turns out to be the experience of a lifetime.
Insurance United Against Dementia - donations can still be made: https://www.justgiving.com/teams/insuretrek18