The Medical Director of a Hospice has completed a 80km+ trek through the Jordanian desert to Petra, to raise funds for the charity that he has worked at for more than 22 years.
Dr Qamar Abbas (age 53 years from Chelmsford) completed the 5-day trek across the Jordan Rift Valley to the ancient city of Petra, walking an average of 16.2km a day in over 30 degree heat and ascending an average of 75 floors per day.
The trek took place from Monday 3rd October to Friday 7th October 2022, from Amman to Petra. In total so far he has raised £6,810, smashing his original £3,500 target. This is enough to fund a 10-day stay for a patient on the Inpatient Unit at St Clare Hospice.
Qamar was raising funds for the Hospice where he has worked as a doctor since the Inpatient Unit was first opened in 2000. He became Deputy Medical Director of St Clare Hospice in 2006, and was appointed as Medical Director in 2018.
Dr Abbas is also a Consultant in Palliative Medicine at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow; and a Senior Clinical Tutor, at the School of Clinical Medicine at the University of Cambridge.
Commenting on the Petra trek, Qamar said: “It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life – hot, tiring, with lots of ascents, and sand and dust to deal with! It was five days of strenuous walking, with emotional ups and downs, but I met some amazing people who were very supportive, and saw some of the most breath-taking scenes this earth offers.”
Qamar continued, “The walking was very challenging, ascending and descending on steep rocky paths, which made me very breathless and there was often a risk of slipping. There was no shade so you had to walk in the full sun, and every day it got to around 32 degrees. We slept in the desert in tents each night, and it was frightening to hear hyenas and wild dogs fighting right beside us!”
Qamar continued: “One of my highlights was sleeping in a tent in the open desert and looking at the stars – and seeing Jupiter shining so brightly next to the moon. We also visited Petra at night on the last day, and heard folk music, and sat under the stars. The Jordanian people were so friendly, and we had some incredible Middle Eastern food.”
Speaking about his reasons for taking on the challenge, Qamar said: “For 22 years, I have been a part of St Clare Hospice. I have developed a career and as a person. I have worked with some amazing people. All of us have one goal in mind. How can we achieve good final days, weeks or months for our patients? I have come across some wonderful patients who have shared with me their personal stories and told me how this Hospice has made a difference to their days. I remember their stories fondly.”
“But all of this is not easy. It requires funding and support. Two years back, we faced an unprecedented challenge! COVID-19 meant that we had to do things differently. As a Hospice, we were determined to see patients, do home and hospital visits, and start a Care Home project. However, it also meant that like any other business, we had to close our shops and like any other charity, we were unable to hold so many of our planned fundraising events. But we stayed afloat and we have kept going.”
“St Clare Hospice’s plan is to reach significantly more people in our local communities in the coming years, and that means all of us have a part to plan in delivering this strategy. We are a local hospice, for local people, funded by local people. I want our Hospice to thrive, and to make sure that all our patients continue to receive the outstanding care that they deserve. So, I decided to do my part by accepting the challenge to walk in Jordan. It was incredibly tough, but I believe that ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going!’”
St Clare Hospice is a charity providing specialist palliative care for people living with terminal or life-limiting illnesses across West Essex and East Herts border.
We care for patients and their families, providing physical, emotional, social, psychological and spiritual support, and ensuring they have timely access to skilled, compassionate and sensitive care in a place of their choice.
Our services are free of charge to those who need our care, but cost over £5 million a year to run. With limited NHS funding we need to fundraise the majority of this each year through donations and other voluntary sources.