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Walberton man completes the challenge of a lifetime

A man from Walberton has raised over £1,200 for a charity by completing a six- day trek of the Sahara.

 

Mark Wagner, who has been supported by national learning disability charity, Hft, for 24 years, set off on November 6 alongside a team of six others from the charity, including fundraising and operations staff.

 

The adventure saw the group battling the elements, from sandstorms and intense heat during the day, to freezing nights sleeping in tents – and even out under the stars – among the sand dunes.

 

Mark said: “It was hard-going, hot and very sandy but I enjoyed the whole experience, especially the interesting sights and the great people I shared it with. Next, we’re hoping to walk the Great Wall of China.”

 

The team faced up to eight hours of walking a day, with the trek beginning at an oasis at the southern stretch of the desert, and passing through some of the highest dunes in the region.

 

Fifty miles on, the committed team finished up in M’Hamid, where they enjoyed a celebratory lunch before starting the journey home.

 

This year’s trip isn’t the first adventure Mark has embarked on.

 

The ambitious 52 year old became one of the first people with learning disabilities to complete a fundraising trek of Iceland in 2017 and has been looking for a new challenge ever since.

 

After deciding to swap snow for sand, Mark spent several months training and fundraising with the support of friends and staff at Hft’s Walberton base, who have been behind him every step of the way. Fundraising events taken on included a hot dog sale to staff and a themed community event for the whole family.

 

After raising an impressive £12,500 in total, Mark and the rest of the team have ensured that several projects at Hft services across the country are on track to receive a funding boost.

 

This includes transforming a greenhouse in a community allotment at the service where Mark lives, allowing people to continue enjoying the therapeutic benefits of gardening and home-grown fruit and vegetables all year round.

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