Hertfordshire businesswoman takes on Arctic Circle survival challenge for charity
PUBLISHED: 08:28 10 January 2020
A well-known community figure - who for years has raised money for charitable organisations - is taking on the challenge of a lifetime for family support charity Home-Start Hertfordshire by learning to survive in the Arctic Circle.
Claire Austin, managing director of Austin's Family Funeral Directors - which has branches in Stevenage, Letchworth, Hitchin, Knebworth, Welwyn and Welwyn Garden City - will head off into the harsh wilderness 150km south of the Arctic Circle on January 26, when temperatures can range from −34°C to 0°C.
Claire said: "My challenge will involve adjusting to life in this extreme environment and I will learn how to get around, find food, light fires and build shelters.
"Later in the challenge I will embark on a three-day survival phase where my training is put to the test. Along with my fellow adventurers, we wil construct our own accommodation for each night, which will include a Scandinavian tent, a shelter and a snow hole.
"I will be venturing into this harsh environment to test my survival instinct and to learn all about life in this challenging environment. My purpose is also to raise funds to help those facing challenging times in Hertfordshire.
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"I will be self-funding the trip, so 100 per cent of the donations I receive will go to Home-Start Hertfordshire and the amazing work they do."
Home-Start Hertfordshire supports families who have at least one children under the age of five and are struggling with disability, poverty, mental illness, multiple births - the list goes on.
There are currently 124 trained volunteers - all parents themselves - giving one-to-one support through home visits to 127 families, with a waiting list of 64 families.
In 2015, Herts County Council cut its annual £390,000 funding to Home-Start Hertfordshire, so every penny raised is vital.
Claire has so far raised £2,135. To support her, visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com and search for 'Claire Austin-Hope'.
Claire has been involved in many charity fundraisers over the years, including shaving her hair off in 2018 to raise money for the Stevenage Community Trust.
In recognition of her charitable achievements in the community, Claire was awarded Rotary's highest honour last year - a Paul Harris Fellowship - by the Rotary Club of Stevenage.
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