Sgt Francis Hedley was able to attend Expedition Ladahk thanks to a special grant given to him by GL RFCA.
Here he writes an account of how he found the whole experience:
This expedition was a huge opportunity for me to challenge myself and to experience a wildly different culture to my own while being able, in a small way to help a community that has to overcome many difficulties in order to survive.
We first travelled to New Delhi and stayed overnight in a hostel before flying up to Leh in the Ladakh Region. This is in the north of India among the Himalayan Mountains in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
We spent a couple of days in Leh acclimatizing to the altitude before driving to Saspotsey village to do community work. We spent five days helping the community by building corrals for their livestock out of rocks and cement, using wire and wood for the roof. Before the corrals, the local people often stayed awake overnight outside their animal pens to protect them against predators such as the Snow Leopards. We managed to build one corral from scratch and repair three others. This also helps the Snow Leopard population in the area as it stops traps being set up by local communities. We further helped the community by teaching English in the local school. I think this was my favourite part of the trip and I really enjoyed interacting with the locals during building and at meal times even though we were communicating through a language barrier.
After our volunteering project, we returned to Leh to prepare for our trek. Our trek lasted six days with our first few days leading up to a pass at 5000m in altitude. I found the trek quite challenging but felt an immense sense of achievement once I had completed it.
After our trek, we travelled to Agra for a short sightseeing opportunity before returning to New Delhi to fly home. This has been an invaluable experience that hopefully made a difference for the members of Saspotsey village and that I will remember for the rest of my life. I also think that experience and skills I learned on the expedition will benefit the rest of the Contingent as I’m now far more confident.
I would like to thank the GLRFCA for their very kind donation.
Kingston Grammar School CCF