AT THE age of just 19, Alex Staniforth has already overcome bullies, epilepsy, depression and a speech impediment.
Now the determined young man, from Kelsall near Chester, has locked his sights on an even loftier target – Mount Everest and he has the backing of some of the world’s greatest explorers and adventurers including Sir Chris Bonington, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Bear Grylls.
Alex is undertaking seven endurance challenges in preparation for his attempt to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain in May 2015.
The latest quest – the third of seven – will see him cycle nearly 900 miles from Chester to Chamonix in the French Alps in just seven days.
Alex launched his EPIC7 challenge after being forced to cancel an attempt to climb Everest in April when a huge avalanche on on the mountain killed 16 Nepalese Sherpa guides.
But the tragedy has made him more determined to succeed, and he aims to raise £50,000 for the Sherpas as well as covering the cost of his summit attempt.
Alex said: “It seemed a waste to let the momentum fade until next Spring so I’m undertaking something even bigger.
“These seven challenges with a twist will push my comfort zones while providing excellent conditioning, helping me to fundraise more and hopefully inspire young people to turn obstacles into opportunities regardless of their background. I’m excited to see it unfold.”
Alex has already completed two of the EPIC7 challenges, having cycled the115-mile Fred Whitton Cycling Sportive and completed Welsh 3000’s walk solo, the youngest person ever to do so.
He sets off for the French Alps from outside the Town Hall on August 26 and hopes people will turn up at the start to cheer him on for his 900-mile bike ride.
Alex is delighted to be backed by adventurer Bear Grylls, who said: “Obstacles are opportunities in disguise, and Alex knows this all too well. High achievement requires high sacrifice. But he is a man determined to make his Everest dream a reality. I am sure he will do it!’’
Alex has overcome a number of childhood challenges, including epilepsy, bullying, depression and stammering and hopes to inspire other young people.
He said: “It’s so rewarding to achieve my own potential while making a positive difference to the world – I’m passionate about giving back and after the tragic events of 2014 which unfolded just one day before I arrived at base camp, supporting the amazing Sherpa community by fundraising for the Himalayan Trust couldn’t be a better cause.”
To help fund his project, Alex has been offered a scholarship as Young Ambassador by the Westgrove Group, a cleaning and security solutions firm in Warrington.
Chairman Steve Fives said: “Alex is quite a remarkable young man and is a true inspiration to a huge array of people. His strength of character and sheer determination to achieve monumental goals while coping with the adversities he continues to overcome is an example to all. We are absolutely delighted to support him.”
Anyone who wishes to donate to Alex’s charity can visit www.justgiving. com/EPIC7 or visit his website www.alexstaniforth.com
See full story in the Chester Leader