An very big adventure for a bear

WE all know about teddy bears having a picnic but few of us have heard of one climbing up mountains.However, that is exactly what Tommy the hiking bear has been up to in a bid to raise money for the special care baby unit at Ipswich Hospital.

WE all know about teddy bears having a picnic but few of us have heard of one climbing up mountains.

However, that is exactly what Tommy the hiking bear has been up to in a bid to raise money for the special care baby unit at Ipswich Hospital.

Tommy was spotted in a shop by hiker Stewart Bethell, as he prepared for a challenge to climb to the three highest peaks in Britain.

The teddy came complete with a woolly jumper and rucksack and seemed to be dressed ready for a hike up a mountain, or three.

Mr Bethell, of Sandpiper Road, Ipswich, and seven of his friends took on the Three Peaks challenge to climb Snowdon in Wales, Ben Nevis in Scotland and Scafell Pike in the Lake District on June 2.

To make it more of a challenge the group hoped to complete the task in just 24 hours and Tommy was to go with them.

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Mr Bethell said: “We knew this was going to be a tough challenge from the outset, having read about the efforts of other teams across the UK.

“But having trained hard, cycling to and from work and doing long walks around Alton water, the team travelled confidently towards Fort William for an over night stop.

“We started off with Ben Nevis and were pleased when we completed it in five-and-a-half hours.

“To reach the top and be there with so many other walkers around seemed a bit unreal. We swapped cameras for the photo's shoot and Tommy was pictured a lot.”

The group then head to Scafell Pike and despite it being the smallest of the three mountains found it the hardest because of the previous climb.

Mr Bethell did not make it to the top but Tommy would not be defeated and along with two of the more experienced climbers, Mike Elson and Simon Prike, he continued to the peak.

Almost sixteen hours into the challenge the team set off for Snowdon but an unplanned fuel stop and traffic problems meant it was impossible to finish in the 24 hour deadline.

Mr Bethell said: “Some of them completed it in 25 hours and the slowest time was just over 27 hours.

“I think Tommy enjoyed his trip and we auctioned him off afterwards raising a further £130 for the unit.

“I believe he has been bought by someone who is planning to take him on further with another charity-raising challenge for him.

“I hope he does them proud - he certainly did for us.”

The group raised £2,500 for the unit in total.

Are you Tommy's new owner? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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