What it takes to be a serial fundraiser

Des Lally, from Brecon in Wales, is a serial fundraiser. But he doesn’t like to be called one. 

The 46-year-old once walked southern Britain’s highest mountain, Pen y Fan, 365 times in a year. Now, he’s looking to peak again by ascending five mountains, in five countries, across three days – all to raise money and awareness for Help for Heroes and Cancer Research UK.

Des hopes to climb the highest mountains in Wales, Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Ireland in just 72 hours, in a test of endurance requiring an overall ascent of more than 5km, a road trip in excess of 1,000 miles, and two sea crossings.

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The 46-year-old mortgage broker – who was recently named the South Wales Evening Post Community Awards’ fundraiser of the year – plans to complete the challenge at the end of July, and, although he has not set a fundraising target, he did raise more than £60,000 when he repeatedly scaled Pen y Fan, between 2018 and 2019.

The charities are of personal interest for Des, as both his parents have been treated for cancer and his father served 26 years in the Irish Guards.

“It’s not simply about the fundraising – though that is, obviously, important – but it’s also about continuing to raise awareness of the two charities,” he said. “If anything, they’re both needed now more than ever and, because there are so many other things in the news, it’s easy for us, the general public, to forget about them and the marvellous work they do.

“It’s about giving something to two organisations that help unconditionally and to try to ensure they are able to continue to do so. Please help if you can: together we will all make a difference.”

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Des said he wanted to do something mountain-based and knew of the Three Peaks Challenge. In descending order of height, the five peaks Lally has to scale are Ben Nevis (Scotland), at 1,344 metres; Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa (Wales), 1,085m; Carrauntoohil (Ireland), 1,038m; Scafell Pike (England), 978m; and Northern Ireland’s Slieve Donard, at a ‘mere’ 850m.

“I wouldn’t say I’m a serial fundraiser, I’m just an ordinary guy trying to help others,” he told Smiley News. “As for the qualities of a serial fundraiser, though, all you need is to have a passion for something you believe in. 

“The thing that keeps me going is those who have had cancer, those who have got cancer, and those who have suffered injury both physically and mentally through their service in the armed forces.”

To donate to Des Lally’s 5 Mountains, 5 Countries, 3 Days challenge, visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/DesLally. Follow Des Lally’s journey on Twitter. Or find out more about Help For Heroes charity