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Jack’s story: Climbing the tallest mountain in the solar system for Hospiscare

Inspired by stories of children taking on lockdown challenges, 11 year-old Jack embarked on his own step-tacular fundraising feat

The first lockdown in 2020 presented challenges for us all and with the cancellation of our fundraising events and the closure of our charity shops, Hospiscare predicted a loss of income of £1 million. For one supporter, lockdown presented an opportunity to challenge himself with an epic fundraising adventure.

11 year-old Jack Evans from Exeter was inspired by children doing unusual challenges for charity during lockdown. He read about children climbing Everest on their stairs at home in The Week Junior magazine and decided that he would go several thousand steps further. Jack’s mum, Jo, explains, “Jack is very interested in space and he knew that Olympus Mons on Mars is three times as high as Everest and so he decided it would be more of a challenge to climb the tallest mountain in the solar system!”

Jack, who has previously supported Hospiscare with a bake sale, was determined to support our local charity after finding out about our predicted loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jack and his family worked out that, in order to complete his 25,000m ascent, he would need to climb the stairs in his home and at the family business in Woodbury Salterton an astounding 9,500 times!

After further research, it would appear that Jack’s challenge could in fact be record-breaking. A group of 10 firefighters from Congleton made the headlines in July 2020 for their shared ascent of the tallest mountain in space, but no single person appears to have taken on the challenge, making Jack the youngest person to complete the ascent solo.

In August 2020, Jack embarked upon his step-tacular challenge and completed 100 ‘ups’ a day. Jo joined Jack on his challenge from time-to-time, completing around 10 ‘ups’ at a time which she explains was tiring enough!

A boy wearing a Hospiscare t-shirt and holding two balloons

Jack at the start of his challenge in 2020

Following an ankle injury, Jack’s goal to complete his challenge by Christmas needed to be revised as he took time off to rest and recover. Jack remained determined to reach the 25,000m summit and even got some ‘ups’ in on Christmas Day!

After reaching the height of Everest at 8,849m with the prospect of two more Everests to go, the difficulty of Jack’s challenge really sunk in. The Mars probe helped to spur Jack on as he could follow its progress and, upon its landing, see the landscape of the planet and the mountain he was climbing from 33.9 million miles away.

Jack’s family and the customers at the family business, Figgy’s Christmas Puddings in Woodbury Salterton, were there to support Jack along the way and helped him to more than double his fundraising target of £500. One Figgy’s customer was a particular support for Jack as through his work at the European Space Agency, he was able to answer Jack’s questions about space and the planet where his challenge was set.

As part of his challenge, Jack and his mum set up social media accounts to share Jack’s progress and after following various space channels, a NASA employee reached out to Jack to wish him luck on his challenge. Jo explains, “It was amazing for Jack to find out that adults who work in space-related fields are as excited as kids about space. They have that same wonder and joy. Jack is very interested in space – he doesn’t necessarily want to be an astronaut – he is much more interested in the robotics side, like the creation of the Mars rover.”

With the summit in sight, Jack took a day off in March to celebrate his 11th birthday before returning to his challenge.

On 1 May, Jack had just ten more ‘ups’ of the family staircase to go. Jack’s mother, father and sister joined him for the final nine, leaving him to complete the final ‘up’ solo.

Jo continues, “Jack’s challenge has captivated people’s imaginations. He is doing something beyond the obvious – something that he is fascinated by – and people want to support this.

“I am very proud of what Jack has achieved, and more than that, his determination to keep going even when it was difficult. Jack has learned about the importance of helping others by doing this challenge. He knows he can make a real difference and this is something he will never forget.”

A boy wearing a medal and holding a certificate

Jack receiving his medal and certificate from Hospiscare Community Fundraiser, Susie Healey

Jack says, “My challenge has been really hard work but I know it’s for a good cause and I’m really happy that I’ve raised so much money. Next I’m going to sell plants for Hospiscare. I’m hoping I can raise a million pounds for them eventually.”

Hospiscare Community Fundraiser, Susie Healey, has supported Jack since the outset of his challenge and says, “It has been amazing to follow Jack’s progress. He has been determined from the outset to complete his climb and raise money to support us through this difficult time. He has more than doubled his fundraising target by raising over £1,000 and we are very proud to have such an inspirational young supporter.”

If you would like to contribute to Jack’s challenge, click here.