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Canadian mountain climb will boost centenary appeal for wartime heroine Edith Cavell

08:25 13 January 2014

Edith Cavell picture 1895
Published with permission of St Mary

Edith Cavell picture 1895 Published with permission of St Mary's church Swardeston.

A campaign to raise £3m in honour of Norfolk’s wartime heroine Edith Cavell will step up a gear this year – with calls for adventurers to sign up for an ambitious charity climb of the Canadian mountain named in her memory.


The Swardeston-born nurse helped about 200 soldiers escape from occupied Belgium during the First World War, a selfless display of duty which led to her execution by a German firing squad on October 12, 1915.

The national outcry which followed prompted the establishment of a charitable fund in 1917, which later became the Cavell Nurses’ Trust.

Today, the charity supports the UK’s 650,000 registered nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants, together with retired and student nurses who need financial help following illness, injury or other difficulties.

By 2015, the 100th anniversary of Cavell’s death, the trust aims to double the current number of beneficiaries from 1,000 to 2,000 – for which it needs to raise £3m.

Since the launch of its appeal at the end of 2012, the trust has raised almost £500,000 – but much of the effort has been focused on developing a series of high-profile events to help the fundraising accelerate towards the centenary date.

And the biggest is the planned ascent of Mount Edith Cavell in summer 2015 – the spectacular 3,363m peak towering over Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies.

It is hoped that people from Cavell’s Norfolk homeland will sign up for the demanding climb, joining nurses and army representatives from allied countries including Canada and the USA.

Kate Tompkins, the trust’s chief executive, said: “It is very exciting. I am just amazed by the number of people coming forward, apart from the army wanting to help us.

“We’ve got nurses who want to do it, and corporate organisations are seeing it as personal development for aspiring leaders. We have got 22 people interested at the moment, and we have got international interest from the USA, Belgium and Canada.

“It would be fabulous if people from Norfolk were involved, because Edith Cavell was born and bred there and the people of Norfolk have taken her so much to their hearts. The critical thing is that although people may or may not be able to do that activity, they can support someone who will, by sponsoring them and making donations.”

Anyone interested in undertaking the challenge should contact the trust and enrol on a training weekend in the Lake District on June 7 and 8. A dedicated project manager will assess applicants’ suitability for the climb following a subsequent winter mountaineering course to develop snow and ice walking skills and the use of ropes.

Participants will be asked to take part in an 18-month programme of activities which will enable them to raise funds to cover accommodation, transfers, climbing equipment, guide hire and flight costs.

For more information contact events manager Jasmin Rana by emailing

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