My Mum is the inspiration for my mammoth mountain climb!
20th January 2012
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Two amazing young women have got the fundraising at Princess Alice Hospice off to a truly amazing start as the charity enters the new financial year. Bonnie Rolfe, 29, Surbiton, and Charlotte Richards, 27, London have secured over £32,000 in sponsorship and have completed their amazing challenge of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Bonnie and Charlotte are grateful for all their supporters and want to extend special thanks, to Bonnie’s Dad, Alina Stanger, Rob Prince, Nick Cotter, Adam Burrage, Conan Jal and Wembley Stadium for their amazing support. They set an initial target of £19,000 and thought that was impossible; however, they have been amazing by the generosity of friends, colleagues, clients and family. They hosted a quiz which raised £12,500 and The River Club’s membership promotion brought in thousands more. 

The cause is very close to Bonnie’s heart, she has a personal connection to the charity following her mother Antonia receiving care from the nursing team both at home and within the Hospice.  Climbing the mountain is a way of celebrating the life and remembering a wonderful woman who was an inspiration to many and continues to inspire Bonnie. The climb in February will be very poignant as it will mark one year since Antonia passed away.

Bonnie said: ‘Eleven years ago, my mum Antonia was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. She was told that with the help of chemotherapy, she had two years to live. Most people would have found that news devastating, but my Mum was not like most people. She treated cancer as an irritating inconvenience, not a death sentence, and refused to stop living her normal life’.

‘Through eleven courses of chemotherapy, five courses of radiotherapy, three major operations, four stage one drug trials, anaphylactic shock, septicaemia and severe lymphoedema, I never heard her complain or show any signs of giving up. She was a real life Superwoman’.

‘Eventually, at Christmas time, 2010, after fighting for over a decade, her body was no longer able to match the strength of her mind, and she declined rapidly. Despite unimaginable suffering, her sense of humour never faltered. After a truly horrific few weeks in hospital, she came home for Christmas Day, and then was moved to Princess Alice Hospice on Boxing Day’.

‘The level of care at the Hospice was astounding. The nurses, doctors and volunteers did everything humanly possible to keep mum as comfortable as she could be. They took the time to get to know us. There are no visiting hours, meaning I could spend every single minute with her, and even pets were welcome to come in for visits and cuddles’.

‘As her condition worsened, some of the nurses came in on days off to see me, held my hand and made endless cups of tea for the small army of friends and family who literally camped out on any space they could find to be near mum’.

‘During her final days and hours, at a time that can only be described as heart breaking, their care became even more relevant. Despite the terrible pain she was in, the staff continued to support her wishes and allowed her to keep the dignity and grace she would have wanted. On the 4th of February, she finally fell asleep surrounded by her favourite people. As ever, this was exactly what she had wanted and what she had planned.’

‘I knew I wanted to raise money for the Hospice, it needs over £19,000 a day and I was surprised that the NHS covers less than a quarter of their needs. I wanted to raise enough to cover a whole day of care. I knew that I would have to do something big; there are very few challenges that come BIGGER than climbing Kilimanjaro. Normally I will take a lift to avoid climbing one flight of stairs, so the training for the climb was not and the climb itself will not be an easy journey for me! However, no amount of altitude sickness or pain could compare to the suffering I watched my Mum endure. She was and continues to be my motivation and inspiration’.

Bonnie and her friend, Charlotte recently visited the Hospice to drop off some of the ever increasing donations, whilst there they admired the wall of 2011 fundraisers, knowing that soon their images will be up on the wall when they complete their challenge next month.

Bonnie added: 'As we climb the 19,340 feet we will know that we are supporting the people who taught me that a hospice isn't somewhere you go to die, it's a place you live your final days in’.

The original target of £19,000 set by these amazing young women could fund a whole day of care providing by the Hospice in the community, in-Patient unit and Day Hospice, they hit this target and have raised in excess of £31,000, with additional support from readers they hope to hit £38,000, which could fund two whole days of care.

If you would like to support Bonnie and Charlotte’s amazing efforts and the Hospice, visit

For further information about more overseas challenges and other Hospice events, such Sky Dives, the annual Towpath Trundle and the Midnight walk, please contact the fundraising team at Princess Alice Hospice for more information. Click here for contact details.


Below from right to left: Bonnie Rolfe and Charlotte Richards

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Ruby I

Member since: 9th July 2012

I run thebestof Esher and I'm passionate about local businesses and charities that provide a valuable service to the local community. If you know any good news stories or you'd like to write for us, contact...

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