Charity Challenge Champion – Mark Roberts of the Elise for Life campaign

August 20, 2012

One of the many great things about the Olympics is that it brought so many truly extraordinary individuals into the headlines, people who have worked hard their entire lives to achieve their goal. In this climate of ‘Reality TV’ and ‘instant celebrity’ culture, it’s refreshing and makes a nice change to have success stories and inspiring individuals filling up the news.

That got us here at Charity Challenge thinking, and inspired, so we have decided to do a feature on an individual who we believe is outstanding and deserving of a huge amount of credit for his achievements. This person is Mark Roberts, the champion behind the “Elise for Life” campaign in aid of The Christie Charity.

Despite the fact that Mark has taken part in a couple of our challenges, it is not so much his physical achievements we think deserve honouring (although anybody who can take on two of our Charity Challenges back to back deserves kudos!), but for his passion and determination in spearheading the largest challenge events fundraising campaign we have ever undertaken.

In January 2010, Mark’s wife Elise was tragically diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma. After Elise’s diagnosis, she and Mark set up the “Elise for Life” appeal with the aim of raising one million pounds for The Christie. The Christie is the largest cancer centre in Europe, and has been pioneering cancer research breakthroughs for over a century and treating more than 40,000 patients each year. This was a cause obviously close to Mark and Elise’s hearts, and the money that the appeal raised and continues to raise, goes towards funding research into the disease and supporting the clinical trials unit at the hospital.

So when Mark approached us with this mammoth task, we began to work together planning a series of challenge events. The challenges we set up included 4 Great Wall Discovery Challenges in 2011 (which over 100 people fundraised for and took part in), 2 Saigon to Angkor Wat bike rides in 2012 (with a group of over 30), and one Iceland Lava Trek challenge with a dedicated group of 15 fundraisers/trekkers.

 “Mark Roberts is a Champion’s Champion! If every charity could have a Mark Roberts to help recruit participants the world would run out of places to send charity challengers. It has been an absolute pleasure working with Mark, his drive and determination are second to none, but it’s his positivity that’s infectious. I am looking forward to helping him achieve his goal of raising 1 million pounds for The Christie.” Chad Anderson, Charity Challenge Business Development Manager

Elise herself tragically passed away in October 2010, but Mark has continued to work tirelessly to fulfil Elise’s legacy through events and challenges. With lots of helps from friends, relatives and particularly Barclays bank – staff and management – where Elise worked. The Elise for Life campaign is well on its way up.

But the biggest challenge is yet to come. Working with Mark, we are about to embark upon our single largest  series of Charity Challenges, taking 8 separate groups (a total of 240 people) up Mt Kilimanjaro’s Lemosho route.

This specific challenge has a special personal connection for Mark, as Elise herself climbed to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro in 2008 with Charity Challenge to raise money for The Christie.

 “She was the toughest, bravest person I’ve ever met, but even she said it was the hardest thing she’d ever done. Let’s make her proud and climb this for her, and for all those brave people just like her, who need our help!” Mark Roberts

Here are some thoughts from those involved in the charity and the campaign:

“Everyone at The Christie is humbled by Mark’s commitment, drive and determination to reach the target he and Elise set out to achieve two years ago.  Mark’s passion and enthusiasm has delivered results that have amazed us all and it was a true privilege to wave off our biggest ever group of overseas trekkers to China last year, all united against cancer in support of Elise and The Christie.  The money raised through Elise for Life enables us to continue to develop our work into malignant melanoma research. The generosity of all those supporting Elise for Life will make such a difference to cancer patients for which we are so grateful.  We are constantly inspired by the hard work and efforts Mark, Deb and all of their supporters put into helping support our cause and look forward to witnessing the emotional but fitting celebration for Elise on the top of Kilimanjaro next year.” 


“I am taking part in the Kilimanjaro summit climb alongside my brother, as Elise was our cousin and my godmother. As a family we have lost 3 very special people over the past 2 years, all of whom were expertly treated at the Christie, so it means the world to us that so many incredible people are helping Elise to reach her £1million target. Elise was a very special and generous person and she is sorely missed by many; she will always be remembered by us for her amazing smile and our family are extremely proud to have known her.

Whilst the support of so many people has been overwhelming, it is the co-ordination of this support that has been the key to success.  Mark has been unfailing, completely committed and has been the driving force to ensure Elise’s wishes are fulfilled; we have no doubt that Mark will reach the £1million target and we very much look forward to seeing him succeed in doing so.

I don’t think we can ever fully comprehend the impact Mark and Elise’s efforts will have on the lives of others with cancer in the future. They are both truly inspirational and I am so proud of both of them for what they have achieved.”


‘It is a privilege to have known Elise and to be able to continue the work that she started with The Christie through Mark Roberts.

So many colleagues and friends here at Barclays have been able to participate in ‘events of a lifetime’ whilst at the same time striving to hit the goal of £1M raised for The Christie and it is perhaps quite fitting that the single event that will enable this target to be smashed, is the climb of Kilimanjaro – something that Elise herself conquered’


“I have been inspired to support Mark in the quest that he and Elise set up in July 2010 for a number of reasons.

Elise was a friend and colleague of mine and she showed such a fight and determination through her battle with cancer, it feels so important that we see her wishes to help others that find themselves in the same position that she was in, through to the £1M target andbeyond.

Mark is totally committed to fulfilling Elise’s wishes and he shows the same level of determination in his quest to achieve this today as he did 2 years ago. There have been highs and lows through the last 2 years, but throughout it has been really clear that he will get there, no matter what!

I’ve watched Mark deliver talks to people interested in the Overseas Challenge on numerous occasions and he’s so passionate about what the appeal delivers through The Christie, that regardless of the reason for their interest, whether it be experience of cancer or wanting to take part in a once in a lifetime challenge, he gets them bought in.

I’m delighted to have been part of such a remarkable achievement.”

 – QUOTE FROM DEB BATE – BARCLAYS CORPORATE : SENIOR OPERATIONS MANAGER (who also deserves a special mention as a huge support and an invaluable asset to the “Elise for Life” campaign!)

To learn more about Elise and Mark, and the Elise for Life campaign, please visit the website at and you can find out more about the amazing cause they are raising money for at the Christie website at If you feel inspired and want to take part in one of these special events, please contact Mark at or visit the Elise website.

You can find out more about all the amazing challenges we offer by visiting our website at

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