Battling illness and 90 degree heat in the Sumatra jungle has been the toughest but most rewarding challenge yet for Bardon Group managing director Nigel Toplis.
Every two years Nigel and his colleague Russell Golding owner of Recognition Express Kettering undertake an extreme endurance feat in aid of the charity Well Child. So far they have raised over £40,000 and hope the latest trek will boost that total by a further £10,000.
Previous challenges have included cycling in Cuba, climbing Kilimanjaro and trekking across the Sahara, but for the 57 year old business man his recent 10 day trip to Sumatra was the hardest.
The only way out of the jungle was on foot or be carried, so when Nigel and some of his colleagues fell ill with dysentery there was no option but to go back to base camp, rest, recuperate and then re-join the rest of the group later.
But despite his illness Nigel found the trip exhilarating and enjoyed seeing the jungle wildlife. He said: “Falling ill in the jungle wasn’t the best thing to happen but I’m proud that I managed to get back to base camp, recover and then find the strength to get back out there. Even though I was unwell it hasn’t detracted from the whole experience.
“It was amazing to be just feet away from orangutans and being able to watch them in their natural habitat. We’ve all seen them in zoos and on television documentaries but it’s completely different seeing them so close. It was such a privilege.”
Together with 11 others Nigel camped out under tarpaulin on the floor of the jungle each night and trekked over the mountains and in the river for six days to reach the end of the trail where the group planted 55 trees to help regenerate the jungle which has been depleted by intensive farming of palm oil.
Another bonus for Nigel was being able to address locals in their own language. He explained “I was brought up in the Far East so am a fluent Malay speaker. Indonesian is very similar so I think I surprised everyone by being able to converse with them. One of my highlights was being able to thank the guides on behalf of the group at the end of the trip.”
The Bardon Group is one of the leading franchisors in the UK. It has a stable of four brands: Recognition Express, ComputerXplorers, The Zip Yard and Kall Kwik. Based in Leicestershire the business has a total of 130 franchises and licensed businesses across the UK.
WellChild helps sick children and their families throughout the UK as they deal with the consequences of serious illness and complex conditions. The organisation’s mission is to reach as many children and young people as possible through focusing on care, support and research.