the six friends standing outside in their training and hiking gear

Six friends studying at a South Wales college are set to tackle the Welsh Three Peaks Challenge to raise money for the British Heart Foundation in honour of their course tutor, who has recently lost loved ones to heart conditions.

Coleg y Cymoedd learners Josh Evans (21), Cameron Williams (24), Josh Thomas (21), Iwan Sheridan (22), Haydn Dummett (20), and Joe Laver (21), are set to complete the Welsh Three Peaks challenge next month, which will see them walk a total of 17 miles and climb 7,657ft as they take on Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon), Cadar Idris, and Pen y Fan, all within the space of 24 hours.

The learners were inspired to take part in the challenge by their engineering tutor of four years, Neil Meredith, who sadly lost his sister and father to heart related illnesses. The group hopes to raise awareness of the 340,000 people in Wales who are affected by heart and circulatory diseases and have almost doubled their £700 fundraising goal already.

Having helped the six learners through their engineering qualifications over the last few years, from their initial level 3 Electrical and Electronic Engineering BTECs in 2019, to their current HNC qualifications and apprenticeships with Coleg y Cymoedd delivery partners Transport for Wales, Nexperia Newport, and Cytiva, Neil has been an invaluable mentor and source of support to the friends.

Cameron Williams, who originally came up with the idea of taking part in the fundraiser, said: “Neil has been more than just an academic tutor to us. He has always been so supportive, both on a personal and professional level, throughout our time at the college and has made a huge impact on our future careers. This is our way of showing how grateful we are, and we are passionate about raising money that will help others like Neil’s sister and father in the future.”

Having always enjoyed hiking together, the learners felt this was the perfect way to express their thanks to Neil. The six friends have been preparing for the challenge since February, keeping their fitness up with cycling, running, and walking as well as checking in on each other’s training progress and building some healthy competition to ensure they’re ready for the expedition.

Joe added: “Completing this challenge is going to be hard, so it’s important that we all cheer each other on, and push each other to make sure we’re training as much as we can to achieve our goal. We’re looking forward to getting to the top of Pen y Fan at the end of the day, cracking open a cold beer and toasting to Neil, his sister and his father, as well as all the people that will be helped by the money we raise.”

Neil, who’s been an engineering lecturer at Coley y Cymoedd for four years, has been overwhelmed by the support from the group and those donating to the fundraiser.

He said: “It’s been a privilege to be part of the boys’ education over the past few years. It’s been great to see them develop and enhance their engineering roles, and I’m blown away that they want to dedicate this challenge to the loss of my sister, Helen Meredith, while raising money for the British Heart Foundation. The whole family appreciates their support.”

The British Heart Foundation state that one in four people will die of heart and circulatory diseases in South Wales. Carys Jenkins, fundraising Manager at The British Heart Foundation in Southeast Wales, said: “We’re so grateful to the team at Coleg y Cymoedd for setting themselves the challenge of completing the Welsh Three Peaks and choosing to support BHF Cymru.

The charity’s pioneering and life-changing research into heart and circulatory issues is funded entirely by the public and supporters like them, so we couldn’t do what we do without them.  If this inspires one more person to take on a similar challenge and fundraise for BHF Cymru, it all helps to make a difference for families in Wales.”

To  follow the group’s journey across the mountains of Wales on the 22nd April 2023 and to donate, visit the learner’s GoFundMe page: