Police CPI Light the Lakes for COPS
A valiant group of individuals representing Police Crime Prevention Initiatives (Police CPI) recently pulled on their hiking boots to take part in Light the Lakes, an annual fundraising event to support Police CPI’s nominated charity, Care of Police Survivors (COPS).
The first Light the Lakes event, organised by Retired PS Ian Davis on 28th April 2012, saw 594 Police Officers, colleagues and friends climbing the Wainwright peaks in the Lake District. That first event raised more than £30,000 to support the orphaned children of murdered Surrey DC Heather Cooper.
Since then, Light the Lakes has become an established event, with Police Officers, colleagues and friends climbing the Wainwright Peaks in the Lake District to raise money to support COPS. The charity works relentlessly to provide peer support and access to counselling services to help surviving family members rebuild their shattered lives. They have helped hundreds of police families devastated by the loss of a loved one who died on duty.
To support COPS, Police CPI’s nominated charity, a number of Police CPI team members chose to hike Birkhouse Moor in the Eastern Fells of the Lake District. To reach the peak, the team would have to ascend 2,356 ft/718m on the evening of Friday 23rd June, with plans to rest and enjoy the view from the top until the key time arrived – the lighting of the beacons on all 214 Wainwright Peaks at 3am on the 24th.
However, with the weeks leading up to the June event seeing the highest temperatures on record for the month, the decision was made to forego the usual 3am flares in favour of torches and glowsticks, as local authorities warned of the high risk of wildfires. They needn’t have worried.
The Police CPI team consisted of Nic, Ailis, Ian and Michael, who were joined by friends and family members Mark, Ben, Ellie and Lou, plus spocker Arlo. The team gathered, excited and nervous, at a cosy pub at the base of Birkhouse Moor. Looking back, Michael said: “Team spirits were high as we browsed the pub food menu before heading out. The beer wasn’t bad either! Oh how I wished we’d stayed there in view of what was to come!”
l-r: Ben, Ian and Michael, still smiling at this stage.
When it was time to head out, the group donned their bright pink Light the Lakes t-shirts and were met by a light drizzle.
l-r: Elle, Lou, Ailis, Michael, Nic, Ben and Ian
The team were initially treated to stunning views over the moors as they climbed, as Ailis explains: “At the start, we all enjoyed the panoramic views across the Lake District with Ullswater in the background. Travelling from the south, I don’t often get the opportunity to enjoy fell walking in the Lakes so really relished the challenge. However, fairly early on, the clouds closed in and the rain increased leaving the beautiful views to our imagination!”
As the group pushed on with their route, the drizzle turned into a downpour. The trek became more challenging as the ground turned to mud and the sun went down, but the team pushed on.
Reaching the top of the peak with no sign of the weather improving, Nic’s well-prepared husband Mark provided some respite from the rain, and the group huddled in their emergency shelter. All thoughts of playing cards with a glass of wine at the top of the hill were long gone, as everyone focused on staying warm.
The experience stuck with everyone, as Ian explains: “For sure an experience that will be talked about for years to come, huddled inside an emergency shelter, just meters from the peak of Birkhouse Moor, was far from our planned picnic and wine soirée that we had envisioned. Mark’s experience on the fells was calmly reassuring and Ben kept us all entertained with his continued thought-provoking conversation. All we could do was smile!”
l-r: Mark, Ben, Ian, and Ailis – keep smiling!
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but Nic’s midnight narration probably says more: click to view!
Nic explains how the group were feeling as they tried to wait out the rain: “It felt surreal to be snuggled in an emergency shelter with work colleagues as the rain poured down and the wind howled. The soggy dog was curled up in the middle of us happily snoozing, whilst we repeatedly shifted positions to try and get comfortable and laughed at how ‘ridiculous’ it was! We are forever bonded by our crazy shared experience of the wild weather in the Lake District.”
Soaked through and beginning to suffer from the cold, the team rightly decided to put their health and safety first and packed up to begin the difficult trek back down Birkhouse Moor at 1am, 2 hours shy of the beacon lighting time. With only torches to guide them down the now-slippery terrain, the group made careful progress back to where they started.
Amazingly, the team were still smiling at the end of their wet adventure!
The journey was an emotional one, and the group were relieved to finally reach the bottom. “I don’t think that I have ever been as happy to see my car again in my life!” explained Ian. “Despite a tinge of disappointment in not being on the peak at 3am to light our glow sticks, we all knew that we had taken the right decision to come down from the peak. A shared experience that we will never forget and however difficult it may have been at times, to be able to support COPS and the families that they support, makes it all worthwhile.”
Sticking It Out
Also hiking Birkhouse Moor for COPS were Elle Harder and Lou Pegg, detectives from North Yorkshire Police. They walked the majority of the route and set up camp a short distance from the peak, cooking dinner before settling down to sleep. They then walked the rest of the distance to the summit at 3am, ready to light their blue beacons in sync with other groups situated across the Fells. Following the lighting, Elle and Lou went back to bed, ready for the long walk back down in the morning. In total contrast to the previous evening, they walked down at 6am in beautiful sunshine, presumably a little soggy from the night’s activities!
Lou and Elle braved the weather at 3am with their blue glowsticks.
Arlo on Saturday morning, not keen on another walk for a while!
“Despite at the time saying ‘never again’, we learnt so much about how to ‘do’ Light The Lakes that I suspect some of the same faces will be there again next year,” stated Nic. “I know I will!”
As a Police-owned not-for-profit organisation, Police CPI works closely with the Police Service and a number of the team have a background in policing. As such, COPS is a charity that is very near to the hearts of many in the organisation, and the entire staff team are incredibly proud of the group who took on the Light the Lakes challenge.
For their efforts, they were able to raise £622 for COPS. A fantastic amount!
You can continue to donate at the Police CPI Light the Lakes Just Giving page.
Find out more about the Police CPI nominated charity at ukcops.org