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A team of individuals with very special needs made history recently when they were the first learning disability group to reach the summit of 13,000ft Swiss Alp, Bishorn.

The team was supported by Adventure Venture, a charity aimed at opening up such opportunities for people with disabilities. Funding for the event was generously donated by the Charity’s major sponsor, EXi telecoms, a telecommunications services company.

The expedition, named ‘Mountain’s of the Mind’ was the Charity’s inaugural expedition. It was supported by volunteers and professional mountaineers, led by Malcolm O’Dea, with the objective of bringing down barriers in society concerning people with learning difficulties. Participants had to learn to walk with crampons, use ice axes, cope with altitude sickness, and negotiate crevasses.

Ian Bashforth from Derbyshire, Neil Kirkham and Stephan Bateman from Cumbria all of whom have learning disabilities were joined by Paul Grantham who is registered blind. They were part of a party of 12 who set off for the summit. Emma Charnley and Anne Birch from EXi telecoms were part of the support team assisting with the climb.

Emma added; “It was brilliant! Lots of adrenalin and a real sense of achievement, not only at the summit. We had a couple of training weekends but nothing could prepare us for the experience. It took us seven hours to walk up the valley to the ‘base camp’ huts. The next morning we set off at 4.30am. to climb to the summit through the snow. There were ten people who made it. Unfortunately two had to turn back because of altitude sickness; both able-bodied. I remember the feeling of complete exhaustion, but also of overwhelming achievement, not only for myself but for a group of individuals who came back a team.”

Wyn Abbot co-founder of Adventure Venture also went on the climb; " It was an emotional moment when all the hard work had paid off. People from all over the world applauded when the team arrived at the summit.”

Derek Hussey, Marketing Director at EXi telecoms; “EXi telecoms has chosen to support this charity because it feels strongly about the statement that Adventure Venture is making about ability not disability”.

Wyn Abbot added; “An enormous amount of work and endless dedication from lots of individuals has gone into making this happen. Many people without disabilities would not contemplate such a feat, and it is to their credit that the team achieved this. We are proving that learning disability really is a ‘mountain of the mind’ and that anyone, given the right support, can conquer associated fears and prejudices."

‘Mountain’s of the Mind’ has proved to be such a success that plans are now underway for future expedition, trekking in Peru and canoeing in Canada.

More details can be found on the charity’s website:

Background Information

Adventure Venture is a non profit making organisation whose patron is Sir Chris Bonington. The registered charity provides a range of adventurous activities and expeditions for people with learning disabilities. It's aim is to bring down some of the barriers that exist in society for people with disabilities and to enable them to participate fully in all kinds of opportunities previously denied them. Sponsors include EXi telecoms and Bonington New Media.


Contact: Wyn Abbot
Tel: 07801 541917
Fax: 07711 331662

EXi telecoms. The EXi telecoms Group is one of the largest independent global providers of telecommunications services. It provides specialist telecoms services to major telecoms operators and equipment manufacturers world-wide.

EXi Ltd (UK) was formed in 1995 with 60 employees. The group now has over 1500 personnel directly employed world-wide and has grown 4,000% since its formation in 1995. The group won an a Certificate of Excellence in the Royal Bank of Scotland/Sunday Times 2001 Business Enterprise Awards and a Financial Mail on Sunday ‘Enterprise 2001’ Export Award. EXi telecom’s headquarters are in Warrington, Cheshire (UK).

Further information at


Derek Hussey
Marketing Director, EXi telecoms
Tel: +44 1925 535200

Press contact:
Jane Harrad-Roberts Marketing Projects, PR
Tel: +44 1244 330000

PHOTO: available to be downloaded from Marketing Projects’ web site at

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