A BAND of friends have conquered Britain’s highest peaks to raise money in the fight against cancer.

Schoolfriends Matt Davis, from Layer-de-la-Haye, Steve Collier, from Silver End, Brett Parker, from Tiptree, and Kevin Reeve, of Tolleshunt D’Arcy climbed Ben Nevis, Scafell and Snowdon within 24 hours to raise money for the Cancer Centre Campaign and Melanoma UK.

The causes were close to their hearts.

Matt, 37, saw the work of the cancer nurses when his wife, Nikki, was treated at Colchester General Hospital after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Nikki underwent surgery before having chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Matt, who works for Border Force at Harwich, said: “The staff were excellent. We have nothing but praise for the nurses on the Mary Barron ward, they were wonderful.

“It was a horrible time but they were upbeat and welcoming and made everything so much better.

“The radiotherapy facilities are great and the staff are really helpful.

“We would like to help to get better facilities for chemotherapy through the Cancer Centre Campaign.”


The group started their challenge with Ben Nevis in Scotland which they completed in four hours and 57 minutes.

Matt said: “Ben Nevis was a harder climb than we expected as the conditions at the top were not great, windy, thick fog and still a lot of snow covering the main peak.

“This was pretty treacherous as the fog meant it was hard to navigate and stay on the right path.

“There are a couple of 1,000 feet sheer drops near the summit which can be easily stumbled upon if you can’t see the markers clearly enough.”

They were driven through the night to England’s highest peak Scafell Pike and begun the climb at 4am.

Matt said: “It was another hard climb but with spectacular views as the sun was rising above Scafell Pike.

“We hit the peak at 5.49am and then headed back down."

The four began to feel the pain of aching joints and sore muscles but completed the mountain in three hours and 35 minutes which was right on track.

But then their challenge to complete the three peaks in 24 hours was thrown into jeopardy when the team was caught in heavy traffic in north Wales.


Matt said: “We arrived at Snowdon at 12.45pm. This gave us four hours ten minutes to complete Snowdon but in true fashion, the weather turned dramatically from sunshine and started to hail followed by 45 minutes of torrential rain.”

However, the friends refused to be beaten and completed the climb in three hours 35 minutes – leaving 25 minutes to spare.

Matt said: “We are all really proud of each other as without the camaraderie our friendship has we would not have been able to motivate ourselves up and down three mountains.

“I think the thought of why we started this challenge and knowing so many people had generously donated just under £6,000 meant we were spurred on even more.

“Our family and friends have had to put up with us all doing months of training that has kept us away from them since October last year so we want to thank them all for giving us the tremendous amount of support that they have shown us.”

He added: “I especially want to mention my wife, Nikki, who has shown me just how strong a person can be whilst she was going through her treatment whilst still keeping her sense of humour and upbeat outlook on life.”

Half the money will go to the Cancer Centre Campaign, which is supported by the Gazette, and half to Melanoma UK after Brett suffered skin cancer.

Matt said: “Brett has been a huge motivation to us all after his battle with skin cancer.

“He never let it get to him and remained amazingly positive throughout.”

He added: “Unfortunately cancer is affecting more and more people and surviving it takes a huge team effort from the scientific teams to the doctors and nurses but more importantly family and friends and we just hope donations and our efforts can help to win the fight against it.”


l A quiz night is being held on July 16 at the Queen Elizabeth Village Hall in Layer-de-la-Haye to boost the funds. Tickets cost £5 a head and anyone wanting more details should email Matt at mattdavis1979@msn.com.

To donate to their fundraising pot, go to www.mydonate.bt.com and search for BMKS National Three Peak Challenge 2016.

To donate to the Cancer Centre Campaign, go to text GAZE11 £10 to 70070 (or choose a different amount).

Cheques can be made payable to CoHoC Cancer Centre Campaign and sent to Colchester Hospitals Charity, Turner Road, Colchester, CO4 5JL or online by going to CohoC.org.uk.