BRAVE volunteers have ascended part of Mount Everest to play a game of rugby in support of national children’s charity Wooden Spoon.

Teams of retired players and participants from across Dorset and Wiltshire raised more than £300,000, unofficially breaking a World Record for playing the highest ever game at 5,119 metres above sea level. Among the participants were international rugby legends Lee Mears and Shane Williams.

Wooden Spoon changes young people’s lives through the power of the sport. It funds projects, programmes and specialist playgrounds across the UK and has helped more than a million children since 1983.

Despite battling severe altitude sickness, some of the group will be advancing to higher altitudes for a second game at 6,500m.

Justin Cliff, the chairman of Dorset and Wiltshire Wooden Spoon, said the experience had been very demanding for those involved, some of whom were only in their teens.

“The altitude problems were daunting. One lady was physically challenged in the trek and had to receive specialist help to get her through it,” he said.

Yet the funds raised have made the mission worthwhile, with Wooden Spoon now being able to install ramps to help youngsters mount horses at the Larkhill Rise Community Farm near Trowbridge. Projects to design surfboards for disabled children and to enable young people in wheelchairs to enjoy beach life will also benefit from the money raised.

Gareth Biddle, a former rugby player at Dorchester RFC, also took part in the London Marathon in support of Wooden Spoon, raising more than £5,500. Mr Biddle, who teaches PE at The Purbeck School in Wareham, said: “Having completed some 10k events, the London Marathon made its way on to my bucket list. I am thrilled that I managed to complete it.”

One couple, Viv Worrall and Chris Curtis, managed to raise a remarkable £18,000 between them by arranging a series of fundraising events in addition to the Everest challenge.

Mr Cliff said: “The support by the public to help these very needy young people is absolutely phenomenal. Everyone gave so much time and effort and we cannot thank them enough.”

Wooden Spoon has funded more than 700 projects across the UK and Ireland, working closely with the rugby community to support children and young people with disabilities or facing disadvantage.

To find out more about the charity or to get involved, visit


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