Jungle Blog: Meet the Team

Meet the team before they provide us with their day to day blog of their trek

As you read about our adventures, find out who we are, what inspired us and how we are feeling pre-trek...

Name: Charlie Vowden

Age: 22

Occupation: Writer and journalist – & Hospice Blogger!

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Town: Cheshunt

Why I wanted to take part: As a tribute to my grandmother Julia who passed away with her family at her bedside last year. Isabel Hospice made this possible and provided support and comfort throughout her final months. My grandmother told me that one of her final goals was to live to see my 21st birthday. Incredibly, she found the strength to do so and took her last breath less than two weeks later. I am embarking on this challenge for both her and my grandfather Dennis. To make them proud.

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I look forward to: The night-time jungle trek and spending time in good company experiencing something that is far from routine. No computers, no deadlines, no tube-strikes and plenty to see and do.

I’m a little worried about: Venomous snakes/spiders and experiencing some sort of chocolate withdrawal symptoms.

How I’ve prepared: By reading as much about leech removal as possible and wearing in my walking boots.

Name: Christine Brown


Occupation: Retired

Town: Benington

Why I wanted to take part: On a dark cold wet day in January it seemed like a good idea!! Also it provided the opportunity to see a country I would never get to with a group of friends and raise money at the same time.

I look forward to: Experiencing the sights, sounds smells of the jungle and the wildlife within it.

I’m a little worried about: Trying to convince myself I really don’t mind sleeping inside a mosquito net/all the bugs.

How I’ve prepared: With lots of walking and picking the caterpillars off the cabbages in the vegetable garden by hand!

Name: Simon Dowell

Age: As young as I feel! 54 at the moment!

Occupation: Relationship Manager in Finance

Town: Chelmsford

Why I wanted to take part: Ten years ago my Mum died after a protracted DVT illness and I looked after her for the last 6 months from Hampshire and she was in Kent. I wish I had known about the availability and value of hospice care . I am now aware of how really superb the way the whole care system works .I have been to Isabel and have seen it first-hand.

I look forward to: Sharing the challenge with everyone and getting through together.

I’m a little worried about: Not washing and bugs.

How I’ve prepared: Apart from avoiding thinking about it, I have walked in the New Forest and locally. I have been training in the gym almost every day and have increased the intensity of my workouts.

Name: Andrea Wenzel

Age: 29

Town: Ware

Occupation: Technical Development Designer

Why I wanted to take part: In memory of my Aunt & Uncle, an amazing couple. The hospice cared for them both in the last stages of their illnesses a few years apart. The challenge has enabled me to do something in return, to fundraise & raise awareness of Isabel Hospice.

I look forward to: The journey of the whole challenge and learning about day to day life in the village.

I’m a little worried about: Hills, being bitten, or finding anything that can get into my sleeping bag!

How I’ve prepared: Learning how to pack light! Running, yoga & lots & lots of walking!

Name: Chris Lansdowne

Age: 33

Occupation: Physiotherapist

Town: Birchanger

Why I wanted to take part: Always wanted to trek through a jungle.

I look forward to: Being in the rainforest.

I’m a little worried about: Listening to people snore in the jungle!

How I’ve prepared: I haven’t! I’m relying on my natural fitness and ability to overcome obstacles instead of preparation!

Name: Jean Holt

Occupation: Retired NHS Manager

Town: Aston

Why I wanted to take part: I am taking part for the challenge, to raise funds for an excellent cause and something to occupy my mind in what has been a difficult 12months.

I look forward to: Seeing Borneo and enjoying the team spirit!

I’m a little worried about: The lack of showers and the presence of insects and anything else nasty!

Name: Sarah Strange

Age: 18

Occupation: Gap year student

Town: Broxbourne

Why I wanted to take part: To experience an amazing country and help a great cause.

I look forward to: The scenery and the orangutans.

I’m a little worried about: The sore feet, ouch.

Name: Emma Price

Age: 39

Town: Kimpton

Occupation: Book-keeper, Isabel Hospice

Why I wanted to take part: Personal challenge

I look forward to: Trekking and the Community project

I’m a little worried about: Insect bites

How I’ve prepared: Lots of walking and cycling

Name: Anthea Cecil

Age: 42

Occupation: GP

Town: St.Albans

Why I wanted to take part: I needed a new challenge for myself this year and being a trustee of Isabel Hospice I wanted to support this first ‘extreme challenge’ that they have organised. I went to Borneo on my medical elective about 20 years ago so I am interested to go back & see how it has changed.

I look forward to: Getting away from the comforts of western life & really ‘roughing it’ in the jungle and hopefully making some really good friends.

I’m a little worried about: Aching feet, being damp & the ‘bush tucker challenges’!

How I’ve prepared: Getting lost in the Tuscan Hills in the July midday sun!

Name: Vicky Smith

Age: 37

Occupation: Online Marketing Manager for a travel company full time and part-time student of Responsible Tourism Management MSc

Why I wanted to take part: I’m joining the Borneo trek/project as Trip Escort on behalf of Different Travel/Challenge, the tour operator, to make sure everything runs as smoothly as it should and help surmount and challenges which may occur! Why Isabel Hospice? It struck a chord. Although I grew up in Yorkshire, I was born in Hertfordshire and family still live in the area. I have had family members suffer from cancer. It felt right and I look forward to learning more about the hospice and the group’s individual experiences of it as we go through our journey.

I look forward to: Meeting the group, listening to individuals stories and lives, a smooth and fun trip and I really hope we see a baby Orang-utan!

I’m a little worried about: I’m just not good with big spiders!

How I’ve prepared: Physically, I’ve always been pretty active and sporty. I ski, snowboard, hike, play netball, swim, do yoga and walk to work (even in London!). Mentally, I’m confident, positive and ‘can-do’, so I just deal what whatever arises, day by day, hour by hour, as and when!

Name: Sarah Huttlestone

Age: 39

Town: Hertford

Why I wanted to take part: I am taking part in memory of both my father-in-law (who passed away in the hospice in December 1998)and most recently my mother-in-law. Last October my mother-in-law was admitted to the hospice, following a short illness. During her stay there I saw the leaflet about the jungle challenge, we both laughed about it and said how much ‘it was my sort of thing’ and to go for it. The past few years have also been rough for me having being myself diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2004. I underwent treatment with support of all my family and friends have come through it. For me personally this challenge has seemed to ‘be at the right time for me’ to move on from that part of my life...and I will be 40 later this year, so what a great thing to do. The care and support of all members of the hospice team is so wonderful I just want to try and give something back to them as a thank you.

I look forward to: All of it. I have met some lovely people who I hope will remain friends for a life time (oh no I hear them say!!) It is going to be a wonderful experience, although hard and challenging, it is all part of it and I can’t wait. Yes I will be thinking of loved ones both here and who I’ve lost, so emotionally I will probably be a wreck, each step will make me stronger though.

How I’ve prepared: Training for the trek has been a bit hit and miss for me. I have been undergoing reconstruction surgery and unfortunately had a few hiccups along the way preventing me from training at times. I hope I don’t hold anyone up and will try to keep up with the pace, I’ve only got little legs remember!

Name: Susan Warren

Age: 52

Occupation: Business Support Co-ordinator for Fundraising Dept at Isabel Hospice

Town: Ware

Why I wanted to take part: Help raise �3,000 for the Hospice and personally ‘The next big Challenge’... I have done several Extreme adventures throughout my life including Skydive for my 40th, Flown Hawker Hunter Jet Fighter for my 50th.

I look forward to: The people, culture, scenery, the journey of discovery of self and others.

I’m a little worried about: Leeches, the humidity and jet lag.

How I’ve prepared: Mental and physical exercise since last November. Have lost 2 stone.

Name: Louis Merhemitch

Age: 22

Occupation: Manager in a family owned business.

Town: Hoddesdon

Why I wanted to take part: I am doing this in memory of my father Charlie who died on the 18th of March 2009. He was an incredibly strong man who exercised the morals and core values that a lot of society seem to lack these days. Losing the strongest man I have ever known was a huge blow for both myself, the family and everyone who had ever known him. During his final months both my father and ourselves received tremendous treatment and support from the Hospice who did everything they could to ensure that he passed away with dignity, in the home he loved and with his family who adored him.

I look forward to: I am most looking forward to seeing some wildlife within the rain forest. Also as a trained arboriculturist I am also very keen to see the trees within the rain forest.

I’m a little worried about: Nothing, it will be an adventure from start to finish.

How I’ve prepared: Walking with the group.

Name: Julie North

Age: 49

Occupation: Isabel Hospice Corporate Relationship Manager


Why I wanted to take part. When choosing a challenge for the first bespoke Isabel Hospice Challenge, this seemed by far the most different and diverse, both with the 7 hour trekking a day and the community project. I look forward to sharing the experience with an amazing group, and coping with my own personal challenges of really going back to basics. Mostly I hope this helps to raise maximum funds for our Hospice to continue offering the care and support many of the other trekkers have received and benefited from. To date we have raised in excess of �30,000 and the money continues to come in.

I look forward to: Being part of a journey with fellow trekkers, getting to know the Malaysian culture and experiencing the Rain Forest

I’m a little worried about: Leaches, not washing, head itching, lack of sleep being grumpy and taking it out on the trekkers, J

How I’ve prepared: walking with full rucksacks and many team walks getting to know fellow trekkers

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