Luton friends trekking to source of River Ganges for cancer and heart charities

Denise and Sophia.
Denise and Sophia.

An intrepid Luton duo are trekking to the source of the Ganges on a mission to raise money for two charities close to their hearts.

Denise Kearney, 56, and family friend, Sophia Hehn, 21, flew out to Delhi in October to travel to the Himalayas, where they are climbing up to 4,500 metres to reach the river’s birthplace.

The brave Luton ladies are hoping to raise £2,000 for Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation, battling through long, cold days and even colder nights.

Sophia said: “Denise is my second mum and has been in my life since I was born.

“I didn’t really get much choice about this trip - she was very convincing! She’s done a few challenges and wanted to buddy up with me on this one to celebrate my 21st birthday.”

Denise added: “I’ve gone from giving Sophia bottles of milk to cocktails!

“I summitted Kilimanjaro in 2015 and made great friends who are coming with us on this trip. It’s always been on my bucket list to do India and all the money will go to charity.”

Denise’s climbing dreams were nearly over when uneven ground in Snowdonia broke the cartilage in her right knee, and also damaged her left one.

A consultant told her not to climb, but Denise’s attitude was “nobody tells me what I can and can’t do!”, and thanks to Bupa and physio teams in Harpenden, she scaled Kilimanjaro in 2015 and completed the Everest Base Camp challenge in 2017.

Denise explained why the adventurous pair chose their charities. She said: “My nan, Grace Waterhouse, fought cancer. My dad also had congenital heart disease and treatments not only gave him a life, but it allowed us to grow up with a dad.”

Sophia added: “My great uncle Noel Carroll [1941-1998] was an Irish middle-distance runner and Olympic athlete, but died aged 57 from a heart attack. He had coronary heart disease. It’s so important for people to get checked out.”

Indeed, the pair are also urging members of the public to go for check-ups, such as bowel screening, and Denise would also like to thank Costa for supporting them with its match programme.

To donate, go to www.virginmoneygiving.com and search ‘Denise Kearney’.