As I sat shivering on the top of Place Fell, in the Lake District, at 2am on a June morning I was just slightly doubting what I was doing there. Crikey, it was cold (even with my COPS snood on)! Is this what Charity Trustees are supposed to be doing?
As we looked out into the gloom from 2,156 feet we could see the lights of Patterdale glinting by the shores of Ullswater far, far below us. We could also see torches glinting on the way up other mountains; we were not alone!
At that point our team came into its own: the head of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, Roger Bannister, produced a stove, hot coffee and a bottle of Kendal Mint Cake Liquor! Jo, Jen, Jim and Adam produced food, and nobody took me up on the offer of some chewing gum! The next hour flew by and at 3 o`clock in the morning we stood on the top of Place Fell and lit our flares.
It was very moving to see other hilltops flame into view with flares being lit all around us. We could see about a dozen other teams; across the Lakes a total of 90 teams had climbed, scrambled and hiked to Light the Lakes for Care of Police Survivors. We thought of some of those that we had lost, and agreed that they would have found the fact that so many people were up mountains in the dark both amusing, and poignant.
As the flares dimmed we set off back down as dawn started to appear. Jo`s boot fell to pieces, and we had to improvise a repair, whilst she had to walk down as if wearing flippers. We were back down by Ullswater as the sun started to touch the hilltops around us.
Later on we met up with lots of the other teams, who had stories to tell about camping out on mountain tops, ascents and descents. We had a BBQ at Brathay Hall, supported by Copperpot and Wainwright`s brewery. It was good to see the COPS stall doing brisk business. It also gave me the chance to thank the various Leicestershire teams that joined in; officers, staff, cadets, volunteers, all determined to support COPS.
Importantly it meant that we all got the chance to thank Vinny Wagjiani of Surrey Police. He has worked tirelessly to make Light the Lakes 2018 a huge success. Even better he promised to help next year too!
Light the Lakes 2019 will take place on the weekend of 21 June 2019. Over 300 people participated this year....next year we want to see more peaks lit up. There are 214 peaks to Light up: why not come along, help to Light the Lakes, and raise some support for COPS?