BEST mates Frankie Evans and Gareth Richardson conquered the Three Peaks in September, raising almost £2500 in support of the North East Autism Society.

The gruelling challenge is a national event in which people climb the highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales in less than 24 hours. And the pair did just that - scaling Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon in an impressive 22 hours 36 minutes and 39 seconds.

“It was hard towards the end and not being able to sleep between destinations was quite difficult, although the adrenaline kept us both going,” Gareth and Frankie, both 40, from Bishop Auckland, said. 

The donations kept coming in and that made us more determined and made it all worthwhile.

The friends said they decided to take on the challenge after upping their exercise regime during lockdown. They prepared for the event for six months by walking and cycling regularly.

“We both started walking during Covid as regular exercise as well as cycling on a Saturday morning from Bishop Auckland to Durham,” they said. “Having climbed Scafell previously so we decided to take on a bigger challenge.”

With the event planned, the friends then looked for a charity to support and discovered NEAS thanks to a quick Google search. And the Society’s mission is one close to both men’s hearts as Frankie’s nephew and Gareth’s niece are both autistic.

"We weren't aware of the Society previously, but we searched the internet to see what help there is out there for adults and children who have been diagnosed with autism," they said.

Frankie's wife Laura added: "We are all so proud of them both. I know Gareth's wife is as proud as I am of Frankie."

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