Last month Catherine Riley, Chief Operations Officer at Northern Print Solutions, took on the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge to raise money to supporting our work in helping vulnerable people experiencing homelessness.

To mark this incredible achievement we sat down with Cath to discuss the challenge, why she chose Oasis Community Housing as her charity to fundraise for and more.

What was the challenge? Why did you choose this particular challenge?

I competed in the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge, a 12 hour race to complete a 26-mile walk incorporating a climb of 5200 feet across 3 mountains, Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent.  

Although I was raising money for a great cause, I knew I also had to find a way of raising money that interested me and kept me motivated. It also had to be enough of a challenge that my friends and family, colleagues and clients would also get behind me and sponsor me.   

People that know me, understand my desire to push and develop myself. They also know I love the great outdoors. The challenge provided the perfect opportunity to stretch my physical limits in an environment that humbles, inspires and allows me to think more creatively about work issues and solutions. 

What obstacles, both mental and physical, did you face during the challenge and how did you overcome them? 

Firstly, and I am sure this will resonate with many, I was short of time. To begin with, I found it hard to fit in training around a chaotic life. I am, however, lucky to have a business partner who likes to keep moving as much as possible. Instead of taking our critical meetings indoors we took them outside and walked and talked our way around the local area. 

Secondly my fabulous walking partner for the challenge and life long friend , Helen , had a walking cadence that was different to mine, yet we wanted to cross the finishing line together. Helen is super fast on the flat but less confidence going up hills. Whereas, you give me a hill, I’ll run up it, but the flat bores me rigid and I slow down! So, rather than seeing our different pace as a problem we used it as a solution, pushing each other through individual periods of weakness. 

Finally the biggest obstacle of all was the weather on the big day itself. We walked for around 7 hours in severe rain and gale-force winds. When you put on your waterproofs and pull your hood up everything seems to disappear. Your peripheral vision goes, all you can hear is the pounding of the rain and you feel very isolated despite the fact you are walking with others. 

It was mentally rough, and it was at this point that I had to dig deep, man up and think about the money I was raising and the people that it would help. For Helen, it was the memory of her Dad, that got her through it. We also couldn’t have done it without a sense of spirt, adventure and good humour, if you didn’t laugh you would cry! Nor we would have completed it without our fabulous mountain guide, Orange John. Knowing the mountains well, he navigated us up and down safely and kept to a tight timing schedule.

How long did you take to complete the challenge? Is there a specific time frame that you have to complete it within?

You had to complete it in 12 hours, and we just got in around 11 hours, 40 minutes. 

We were on track to hit 10 hours and 35 minutes, but then the weather completely slowed us down. Once the weather lifted we travelled as fast as our legs could take us. Orange John was there pushing us, he was brilliant!

How was training? Did you have a strict plan?

One of the reasons I chose this particular challenge is that I could complete the training to my own schedule and that no one relied on me to complete their training. 

I knew that every weekend I had to complete a long walk to build my stamina and then during the week carve some time out to do some cardio and climbing work. As I previously said, having an understanding business partner helped! 

I started training around 3 months prior to the challenge. However nothing every happens to plan, and 3 weeks before the challenge, I had to cease training due to a knee injury. Mentally that was a tough three weeks, I worried about whether I would be able to compete, that I would let everyone down, but luckily with some excellent support from my sports injury specialist and chiropractor I got the all clear two days prior to the event. 

Would you take on the challenge again?

Yes, I would , 100%. But I would want to do something slightly different. Possibly complete the challenge through the night next time? I think that it would be fairly epic to do on a clear sky night, it would just be amazing.

How much money were you able to raise?

£1,060. I originally had guarantees of about £600 and then the money just kept coming in. I am so grateful to all those that supported me. 

Why did you choose to fundraise for Oasis Community Housing?

I attended the Black and Gold Ball (Oasis Community Housing’s annual fundraising ball event) two years ago and it was both an inspirational and challenging event. It was hugely inspirational hearing the stories of the individuals that chose to use the support of the charity, and whose lives are now flourishing. But it also really challenged the social preconceptions of what it is to be homeless.

It opened my eyes to the problems that quite literally are on our doorstep.  

When I was offered the opportunity to find out more about the charity, alongside my business partner, Craig, we saw first hand the great work they do. It was there and then that we decided to sponsor the charity and also help to raise funds. We find it a privilege to support such a great cause.

What would be your message to encourage others to fundraise for Oasis Community Housing?

My message would be to challenge your preconceived ideas of what makes a homeless person. Find out a little bit more about why the North East has one of the highest homelessness rates in the UK, and who’s making up that demographic because you’d be absolutely shocked

Please find a way of supporting the great work they are doing. My top tip is to use a passion that helps you to raise money, make sure you  it’s something you are interested in, enjoy and have time to do, this will help you keep your fund raising mojo. No matter how big or small your act of kindness, believe me it will make the difference. 

Inspired by Cath’s challenge? Have idea for a fundraising challenge or event but need support organising it? Contact Joanne Armstrong, Community and Individuals Fundraising Manager, at who will be happy to support you.