Business Charity Awards: Challenge Team - Winner: Centrica and Camfed: Mt Toubkal Challenge

Awarded to a team of employees from any part of the business who took part in a successful fundraising challenge for a UK charity

Centrica and Camfed
Centrica and Camfed

Deloitte and Children with Leukaemia, Cancer Research UK, Help for
Heroes and African Rainforest Trust

Lombard and Sense

WineCentrica and Camfed: Mt Toubkal Challenge

In September 2010 the giant energy company Centrica sent an all-women team of 38 staff to north Africa to climb Mount Toubkal, the highest of the Atlas Mountains at 4,165 metres.

Led by Lynne Turner, the company's director of financial control, the group raised £56,000 for the UK charity Camfed (Campaign for Female Education), which aims to eradicate poverty and Aids in sub-Saharan Africa by educating girls and empowering women.

The energy and engineering sector is traditionally seen as male dominated. One of Centrica's aims, which the challenge helped to meet, is to promote diversity in the workforce and reduce the gap between men and women in leadership positions.

Centrica and CamfedCentrica provided the team with specially designed kit, including hats and thermal tops, and paid for half of their travel costs. It also approved time off for the women for training that included weekly seven-mile walks between company buildings in Staines and Windsor. Cake sales, cooking demonstrations and sponsored sporting activities helped to raise money for the trip.

At Mount Toubkal, the team started the ascent at 4am so they could get to the summit and back before wind and rain made conditions too dangerous. As they climbed, the effects of the high altitude became more pronounced and the team suffered headaches, breathlessness and vomiting, so they were grateful for the medics among their guides. However, they reached the summit late in the morning and, with storms closing in, made it back to base camp by mid-afternoon.

Later, the team stopped for an arranged visit to local Berber women at the Tamghart n'Oudrare Women's Association. Although the groups are not affiliated, Camfed's aims fit with the Tamghart n'Oudrare mission to provide more economic freedom and education to the women and girls in their community. Here the team donated £800 to support the organisation's work.

Turner had commissioned the Berber women to make trophies for the team to act as mementos and help the local economy. They presented the Centrica team with hessian bags hand-embroidered with the Toubkal Challenge and Camfed logos.

Team member Olivia Fenton said: "Through this challenge, we have built an incredibly strong network of women who have confidence in their ability to achieve the impossible."

Dame Mary Marsh, director of the Clore Social Leadership Programme and a category judge, said: "The scale of the challenge was impressive. The impact on the women's own development and self-confidence was an added benefit. It delivered empowerment of women by women very successfully."

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