Ex Welsh International and Barbarians flanker, Richard Parks, visited King’s School, Worcester last night and spoke to an audience of his 737 Challenge.
Three years ago Richard had the conversation with his doctor, which all who lead an active life dread, telling him that his rugby playing days were over. When you have spent all of your adult life doing something you love, it is a bitter pill to swallow. He had a huge void in his life, which needed filling. He decided to fill it with mountains and the outdoors and it was not long before he came up with the 737 Challenge, climbing the highest peak on each continent, trekking to the Geographic North and South Poles and Everest, often considered to be the world’s third pole, all within seven months. If successful, this would set a new bench mark for such challenges.
Having made up his mind to do it, Richard embarked upon 18 months of hard training, something he was used to as a top flight rugby player, but this regime was gruelling. That 18 months also allowed him time to put together a team to support him throughout, to raise funds in a difficult economic climate and to focus on raising £1,000,000 for Marie Curie Cancer Care.
During his 90 minute presentation he held us captivated as he told us of each stage of his challenge from battling with very negative temperatures at the poles to the steamy jungles of Papua, from the glorious sunrises and sunsets to the progress hindering storms, from the elation of achievement to the fear of losing a big toe through frostbite, from sharing treasured moments with team members to the solitude of falling down a crevasse. Richard has experienced it all.
It is a remarkable story told by a humble man from the valleys of South Wales. Beneath that humble exterior is a man with an iron will and determination to succeed, not just for himself but for all those who have given him support and for all those in the future who may need to call upon the services of a very valuable service, Marie Curie Cancer Care.