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Climbing Kilimanjaro often proves to be a life changing experience. It certainly was for Jeremy Gane & Simon Albert, the founding Directors of Charity Challenge. Jeremy climbed the world highest freestanding mountain for the first time back in 1991. He fell in love with Africa and on his return to the UK set up Gane & Marshall, now the UK's number one climbing outfit for Kilimanjaro. Five years later he led a group of charity trekkers up the mountain. It was his fifteenth summit climb and the first for Simon Albert, one of the fundraising participants. The two became good friends and subsequently organised and led trips to Cuba, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia together before setting up Charity Challenge.

They approached the Charities Commission, The Civil Aviation Authority, Centre for Environmentally Responsible Tourism (CERT), Institute of Fundraising, Tourism Concern and many other organisations to make sure that Charity Challenge worked to the best practices in the charity and travel industries.

Over the last twelve years, Charity Challenge has established an incredible infrastructure for running numerous and varied group adventure travel expeditions around the world. Charity Challenge has worked with many of the UK's largest charities (including NSPCC, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, ActionAid, Diabetes UK) and many smaller charities. Over 1600 charities have been supported through Charity Challenge, raising over 40m to date.

In January 2014, Charity Challenge won the Best Challenge Events Partner in the Institute of Fundraising 'Partners in fundraising Awards'. Click here for more details.

Its corporate client list includes Tesco, Accenture, KPMG, Credit Suisse, Lloyds TSB, HBOS, Saatchi and Saatchi, Diageo, Freshfields, Serco and Reuters.

It has worked on media projects with the BBC, ITV2, GMTV, the Daily Mirror and News of the World, COMPANY magazine, Prima, Health and Fitness.

Charity Challenge organised the high profile trekking challenge to Machu Picchu for showbiz legend Denise Van Outen and Radio 1 DJ Fearne Cotton! The pair were joined by Alexandra Burke, Amanda Byram, Gabriella Cilmi, and the Daily Mirror. View photographs from the challenge.

In 2009 we organised the very successful BT Red Nose Day Kilimanjaro Climb for Gary Barlow, Cheryl Cole, Kimberley Walsh, Ronan Keating, Chris Moyles, Denise Van Outen, Alesha Dixon, Ben Shephard and Fearne Cotton which raised over £3.35million for Comic Relief. To see a short film of some of the celebrities on the climb, please click here.

With over 100 departure dates to choose from in 2013, in 30 different countries, with 3 levels of difficulties, ranging from 1-18 days, there is sure to be something for you!  Click here to find the right challenge for you!

CHARITY CHALLENGE NEWS ARCHIVE: Including articles on the BT Red Nose Day Kilimanjaro Climb and much more!

staff profiles

Simon Albert - Director

Jeremy Gane - Director

Chad Anderson - Business Development Manager

Charlotte Griffin - Client Account Manager

Firdous Mulla - Marketing and Database Projects Manager

Susan Blunt - Client Relationship Manager

Bina Popat - Flights Manager

Neeta Bakrania - Financial Controller

Sharmee Shah - Finance Executive

Tom Gregory - Bookings and Finance Administrator

Simon Bostic - Head of Operations

Carmel Hendry - Operations Manager

Andy Baker - Operations Manager

Jo Warren - British Challenge Leader

Penny Knight - British Challenge Leader

Komal Gill - Expedition Medic

Kamal Bhandari - Nepalese Challenge Leader

James Marriott - British Challenge Leader

Trevor Gibbs - British Challenge Leader

Simon Albert

Simon Albert
Director

Footsteps of the Maasai "For me nothing can compare with the experience of trekking across the Great African Rift Valley, guided by the local Maasai tribesmen. The peoples, wildlife, scenery, and the challenge itself were all inspirational and I keep looking for ways to top it!"


Simon has travelled extensively throughout the developing world, climbing mountains, rafting rivers, and helping local NGOs on local infrastructure projects. Having completed a Business Studies degree, he trained as a Brand Manager working on Nescafe coffee. He began charity trekking in 1995 to Jordan for the One to One Children's Fund, and climbed Kilimanjaro the following year. He identified a niche in the expeditions market, and on returning to the UK, organised 2 expeditions to Cuba and Tanzania voluntarily for young singles. Following the huge success of these two expeditions, having raised over £100,000 for charity, he set up Challenges (Un) Limited trading as Charity Challenge with co-Director and good friend Jeremy Gane. He has personally taken part in many of the challenges including building houses for orphans and vulnerable children in South Africa, and for families affected by the Asian tsunami in India and Sri Lanka. He has personally led and organised challenges through Peru, Iceland, Cuba, Ecuador, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Haiti and South Africa. It is his passion to do more for those around him that drives the constant development of the business. Simon is married with three young sons and can’t wait until they can join him on a trek to Everest Base Camp.

Jeremy Gane

Jeremy Gane
Director

Kilimanjaro Summit Climb  For most trekkers, Kilimanjaro is a life-changing experience. To climb the mountain is to witness the process of the world evolution in reverse - from the hot equatorial plains of Africa to the arctic ice fields that still exist on the summit 4 miles above the plains. To stand on ˜The Roof of Africa is a magical experience.

Jeremy is also the Managing Director of Gane & Marshall International Ltd. His experience as a fully licensed tour operator running large group adventure tours has been invaluable in the establishment of Charity Challenge. His professional interest in the travel industry started during a climb to Kilimanjaro just over 18 years ago which led to the creation of GandM who are now recognised as the UKs leading specialists in East African mountain climbs. Jeremy himself has climbed Kilimanjaro more than 20 times and he was appointed as Project Manager for the Comic Relief celebrity climb of Kilimanjaro March 2009, which raised millions of dollars for projects in Africa. Jeremy  is a member of the High Altitude Medicine Society. Jeremy is a trustee and secretary for the charity Community Projects Africa, a charity supported actively by Charity Challenge.

Chad Anderson

Chad Anderson
Business Development Manager

"My favorite of all of our challenges is the Escambray  Encounter. In 2010  I was fortunate enough to lead a group in the Escambray mountains in Cuba. It was my first visit to Cuba and I was blown away by the wonderful people and fantastic sights. The trek was tougher than I first expected but it was a wonderful challenge. Apart from the amazing nature and waterfalls of the Escambray Mountains other  highlights included vibrant Havana and ancient Trinidad. I have made strong friendships with my fellow trekkers and was humbled by the emotional stories and motives of those who undertook the challenge."

Chad left his home country of South Africa 19 years ago to go travelling for a few months, somewhere along the way he was bitten by the proverbial travel bug and just kept on going. He's lived and worked on 6 continents and finally settled in London in 1999.

Charlotte Griffin

Charlotte Griffin
Client Account Manager

"Charity Challenge has a wide range of adventures and my wish list includes trekking to Machu Picchu and of course, Mount Kilimanjaro. I’m a traveller at heart and my personal trip this year is to revisit Thailand and explore Borneo for the first time. My birthday will hopefully be spent at the summit of Mt Kinabalu!"

Charlotte’s passion for travel began in 2009, working in New Hampshire for the Summer and she’s had tickly feet ever since!

She went on to spend eight months wandering around the world on an amazing adventure which took her to Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific and North America and upon her return to the UK she started working for a travel management company, planning other people’s 'Trip of a Lifetime' which gave her a great sense of satisfaction.

A Northern lass, she moved to The Big Smoke 18 months ago and spent that time booking accommodation requirements for the music industry and now her adventure with Charity Challenge begins!

Firdous Mulla

Firdous Mulla
Marketing and Database Projects Manager

"Although I haven’t yet experienced a Charity Challenge I have my eyes set on the Thailand Jungle Challenge. Trekking through one of the most beautiful countries in the world, kayaking and elephant riding seems like an adventure I will never forget!"

After completing a 3 year degree in Management and Marketing from Brunel University in 2004, I joined a leading gift and gadget company working as an administrator. I joined Charity Challenge to step up the challenge and to focus on my marketing career. I haven't travelled as much as my colleagues but I hope to do some travelling in the near future!  

Susan Blunt

Susan Blunt
Client Relationship Manager

"Challenge events are the ultimate way to experience some incredible parts of this world. The sense of personal achievement, the chance to make life-long friends and raise money for an organisation that is close to your heart is something that stays with you for a very long time. I have been very lucky to experience an array of overseas challenges of which I am always humbled and inspired by the people who take part.  There are plenty of Charity Challenge adventures that I’d love to tackle including ‘Stok Kangri Summit Trek’ and ‘Mont Blanc Summit Climb".

Initially from Australia, Sue moved to the UK in 2004 filled with the adventure travel bug. Having worked on numerous charity projects in Australia, Sue joined the Challenge Events Team at Macmillan Cancer Support where she spent eight years primarily heading up their successful running events programme raising over £26million.  Sue has enjoyed numerous treks with Macmillan including Kilimanjaro, Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Circuit, Jordan Desert, Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu together with some cycling challenges from Kenya to Tanzania and London to Paris. As Client Relationship Manager with Charity Challenge, Sue brings a wealth of charity experience, strategic planning and marketing together with offering the highest level of relationship management and support. Sue is very excited to be part of the Charity Challenge team working with numerous charities and corporates to make a huge difference.

Bina Popat

Bina Popat
Flights Manager

"Trekking on the Great Wall of China, one of the seven wonders of the world, is something I have always dreamt of doing. I would love to experience the beautiful and vibrant Chinese culture and Terracotta Warriors."

Bina has 17 years experience in the airline industry having worked for Aer Lingus and SriLankan Airlines both in sales and airport experience and is also trained in  IATA fares and ticketing part1 and part 2. Born in Malawi, educated in India(Ooty) and studied further for a  Business Studies Diploma in the UK, Bina is also a qualified beauty Therapist and a spiritual healer (REIKI)!

Neeta Bakrania

Neeta Bakrania
Financial Controller

"Looking through the 'chocolate box' of challenges, it is immensely difficult to choose between treks.

Trek Machu Picchu would be amazing due to its stunning scenery and sacred history.  However having dedicated most of my life to charity and voluntary work a recent stint at an orphanage makes me drawn to the Nepal first hand experience as it  would be a highly rewarding experience in helping to build homes for the locals. So, I am looking forward to having more well travelled stories to tell in the years to come!"

Most of her career has been spent working, supporting and managing the finance functions of charity and not for profit organisations, she quite enjoys knowing that her roles contribute to making sure all runs smoothly financially and ethically.

Sharmee Shah

Sharmee Shah
Finance Executive

“Having joined Charity Challenge almost 4 years ago I haven’t yet experienced any of the exciting and challenging expeditions.  However I would most certainly like to take up the Thailand Jungle Expedition. Having visited Thailand before I would most definitely like to go back and trek through the scenic mountains, rice fields, bamboo forest and interact with the local villagers.”


Born and brought up in Kenya, Sharmee did her travel diploma in London and after graduating moved back to Kenya where she worked for a Travel and Tour Operator. She has worked in the travel industry for the past 13 years. She moved to UK 8 years ago and ever since worked in the travel industry. She joined the finance department at Charity Challenge to get a varied experience.  Travelling is most certainly her hobby and has visited a number of countries and exotic places.

Tom Gregory

Tom Gregory
Bookings and Finance Administrator

"I am lucky enough to be able to take part in the London to Paris bike ride this year. Having looked through the long list of cycling challenges, there is a few that jump out at me, but the Aztec Volcanoes Bike Ride and Cycle Burma sound incredible cycling challenges and sound highly rewarding."

Tom's interest in travel started through a year's work experience through university where he worked for a ski resort in America, which allowed him to go skiing and snowboarding on the surrounding mountains and travelling around America. He then went on to complete his Masters in Tourism, and caught the cycling bug, which has allowed him to incorporate travelling at the same time. He has completed several cycled challenges, such as John O Groats to Lands End taking in Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales on the journey, cycling the length of Ireland from Malin Head to Mizen Point, Copenhagen to Hook of Holland, London to Paris and cycling from Lands End to North Cape in Norway, taking in 9 different countries!

Simon Bostic

Simon Bostic
Head of Operations

“Having been at Charity Challenge for over 3 years now, I am pleased to be able to say that taking part in the Great Wall Discovery and setting up and experiencing our Dog Sledding Challenge have been the travel highlights of my career in this industry. These two contrasting itineraries are both wonderful examples of the diverse and exciting experiences we offer, providing participants with not only a potentially life changing challenge but also the chance to see remote communities and locations whilst at the same time raising vital funds in order to benefit worthwhile and deserving causes.”


Following a degree in German, Spanish and French, Simon began his career in travel by taking high school children from the USA on educational and cultural trips around Europe. Following this, a series of tour leading contracts with a leading adventure tour operator took him to the Mayan ruins of Mexico, Guatemala and Belize, to track gorillas in the Ugandan rainforest and to the voodoo heartlands of Togo and Benin. Hanging up his hiking boots in favour of becoming Operations Manager for the same travel company, Simon then did a stint in tailormade adventure travel before moving to Charity Challenge where he is was be able to develop his operational skills and experience with another leader in its field, Charity Challenge! As Head of Operations, Simon is now in charge of operations and flights and responsible for compliance and governance and with the help of an expert team of travel professionals, strives towards ever increasingly high standards of quality and safety management throughout the product range.

Carmel Hendry

Carmel Hendry
Operations Manager

"I took part in our Trek Transylvania challenge last year, which was a trek that took me completely by surprise. Romanian people were some of the friendliest I’ve come across, and the trekking was at least as difficult, if not more so, than our overseas challenges! However, for me you can’t beat South America in terms of the cultural diversity, the incredibly scenery of jungle, beach and mountain, and the willing of the locals to go the extra mile for you! I’ve climbed Machu Picchu and cycled in Cuba, and the next challenge for me would be our Avenue of the Volcanoes Trek. Now I just need to start training!"


Carmel’s interest in travel first began after experiencing life in South America at the tender age of 18. After spending 6 months living in Ecuador and a further 2 travelling around the continent, she decided to continue the study of languages, graduating with a degree in French, Spanish and Latin American Studies. Carmel was lucky enough to spend a year of that degree on a French island in the Caribbean, before setting off again to South America to work as a tour assistant in Argentina and in the travel industry in Ecuador. Since graduating, she has hitchhiked through Europe, worked on a ski resort in France and has finally decided to settle on something slightly safer in the Operations Team at Charity Challenge.

Andy Baker

Andy Baker
Operations Manager

"Trekking challenges are all about being with the right people and I am hoping to experience the fantastic spirit and camaraderie that is unique to Charity Challenge trips. I’m really excited about going on one of our less frequented trips such as the Simien Mountain Trek. I was supposed to be in Ethiopia a few years ago but had to cancel my plans so the opportunity to go and trek in this fascinatingly diverse and beautiful country would be a real highlight for me."

Andy has always been passionate about the African continent and has spent several years tracing the footsteps of early African explorers into some of the wilder regions of the continent. After completing a degree in African Studies, Andy combined his passion for trekking with his studies and moved to Egypt. Here he spent several years working for the EU on a tourism development programme aimed at training local Bedouin mountain guides. Andy then established his own trekking company based over in South Sinai and continued to run treks throughout the revolution. Andy return to the UK to undertake a Masters degree in Responsible Tourism and begin a new segment of his career at Charity Challenge. Andy holds the Summer Mountain Leader award and has worked as a mountain guide in the UK and abroad.

Jo Warren

Jo Warren
British Challenge Leader

‘’Taking part in the Great Wall Discovery Challenge last year was incredible, demanding but also very rewarding, particularly on a clear day when you can look at the vast and beautiful mountain ranges. Your imagination will take you back several centuries to when the wall was the frontline defence of Imperial China.’ Now after recently returning from our newly launched  Sumatra Orangutan Jungle Challenge adding Indonesia to our map of Challenges I have to say this has topped all challenges for me. Gunung Leuser National Park is just an experience of a lifetime, tackling steep descents, river crossings, camping in prime rainforests, gathering rainforest food and above all living 6 days in the home of the Sumatran Orangutan’’

Jo started her passion for travel after experiencing life in the Wild West. Following 12 months on a ranch she returned back to the UK to complete a BA (Hons) in Tourism Management alongside volunteering and fundraising for various Charities. Jo carried on to live, work and travel in varied climates from the Rainforests of Borneo to Marine Parks on the Great Barrier Reef. Jo continued 18 months travelling working and volunteering through North America, SE Asia, New Zealand and Europe. Jo has worked for Charity Challenge as an Operations Manager for four years and has now packed her bags as she has caught the travel bug once again and is now one of our Challenge Leaders.

Penny Knight

Penny Knight
British Challenge Leader

“This year alone I have belly laughed around a campfire under the desert stars watching our Moroccan driver dancing in a tutu, I’ve cried at the astonishing achievement of a young teacher crawling on her hands and knees up the Heavenly Stairway of the Great Wall after being confined to a wheelchair and I’ve gasped at the staggering beauty of the Moroccan sunset over the sand dunes. What a privilege it really is to share these moments with such inspiring individuals as Charity Challenge attract on these expeditions.”

At the age of 21, I went on a 3 month expedition to Southern Chile and blame this for giving me “the bug” which has never gone away. I had never felt so alive, challenged or as much a valued part of a team and now I hope to inspire others to feel the same. I have worked for Charity Challenge for just two years exploring China, Iceland and the Sahara Desert. For me, it is all about the people; those we meet in the Souks and villages, the in-country guides who relish the opportunity to show off their beautiful homes but mostly the individual who trains, selflessly raises the money and then feel the physical demands of the challenge. Originally in the British Army, then as a personal tutor and lecturer at a College and more recently an Outdoor Instructor, I have had several career changes but the more I am away in far flung places, the more I realise I have never felt so at home.

Komal Gill

Komal Gill
Expedition Medic

There is nothing quite like meeting a group of strangers at an airport, working together through a trek and coming out the the other other side with friends for life. I have been fortunate enough to have trekked along side participants in Brazil, Romania, Sahara, Stok Kangri and Kilimanjaro. Most recently I have returned from the Sumatra Jungle Trek having had a close encounter with a few Orangutans.

I've been volunteering as an expedition medic since 2011 with Charity Challenge and I loved each and every challenge! I would thoroughly recommend taking up a challenge with them, When i'm not trekking I love working as a GP in London and have an unhealthy passion for netball which I play every week.

Kamal Bhandari

Kamal Bhandari
Nepalese Challenge Leader

"Following on from a mountaineering course in India and becoming a qualified climbing instructor, I started to lead groups to Everest Base Camp for Charity Challenge. I love being part of charity groups as knowing that my support on the mountain has helped others raise funds for many worthy causes gives me great pleasure!’’

Kamal is a versatile challenge leader who has hiked the trails across numerous mountains in Nepal, India and Tibet's Himalayas. He has been leading Charity Challenge Everest Base camp Treks for over five years. Kamal Bhandari is a soft spoken gentleman who has weathered some of the most rugged terrain on earth & has never hesitated to go the extra mile for his team and those trekking with him.  Kamal has spent most of his professional career in Nepal’s tourism industry.

James Marriott

James Marriott
British Challenge Leader

"Working for Charity Challenge for the last 2 years has been an adventure to say the least. Running along the Great Wall of China whilst on the phone to Dr Fox at Magic FM looking for his celebrity interviewee further up the trail, cycling up to the snow level in the Atlas Mountains in the middle of summer with a granny in her 70s in hot pursuit, enjoying the sensory overload of the Mekong Delta on a bicycle with a repeat challenger who is bravely fighting stage 4 cancer. These are moments you see on every Charity Challenge trip, ones that blend together into one great journey that you never forget."

I've always been a bit of a wanderer and adventure junkie, having first backpacked around the US at age 16, and then set off for 2 years living and working in Central America. Asia was the next love affair, and to date it's been 13 years and countless adventures in the making. Charity Challenge has given me the opportunity to share these adventures with incredible people, people who may be well outside their comfort zone, but with the support of the local teams and the willingness to push themselves beyond normal boundaries, see the world as it is lived in remote and challenging environments and come home inspired to give life everything they've got.

Trevor Gibbs

Trevor Gibbs
British Challenge Leader

Everest Base Camp "Standing before a matchless vista of towering ice giants was without doubt one of the most awe inspiring experiences of my life. The Himalayan landscapes proved to be everything I expected and more; a land of meandering river valleys and endless pine forests, majestic mountains and unforgettable views."

The world is too small to cram into one life, but having worked in the travel industry now for well over a decade, I have been fortunate enough to experience some of the most spectacular and breathtaking places on the planet, from the towering slopes of the Himalayas, to the burning deserts of Arabia. With a background in design and print, a lifetime of travel has seen me working as a dive master and a ranch hand, a mural artist and an expedition leader, whilst to date I have been involved a growing number of Charity Challenges and Community builds throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America. They say that travel is addictive, if so then I am the happiest addict I know!

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