From Purbeck to Petra: Raising funds for children’s hospice

Retired Corfe Castle teacher David Kemp is to take on a challenging trek across the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan in the Middle East to help raise funds for the children’s hospice charity Julia’s House.

David, aged 78, will join a group of fundraisers from across Dorset and Wiltshire who aim to walk up to 10 miles a day in temperatures of up to 30 degrees Centigrade – and camp out at night when the mercury falls to freezing point.


The Wadi Rum desert in Jordan boasts spectacular rock formations

The Inca Trail of the Middle East

The reward will be seeing some of the most spectacular desert and mountain scenery before finishing the journey at the rose red city of Petra in Jordan, a UNESCO heritage site and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.

All entrants have been tasked with raising at least £2,900 to cover the cost of the expedition, while also fundraising a significant amount toward Julia’s House, which supports Purbeck families caring for a child with a life limiting or life threatening condition.

The adventurous hike, that marks the 20th anniversary of Julia’s House, has been voted by National Geographic as one of the world’s best, with a growing reputation as the Inca Trail of the Middle East.

And even Jordan’s proximity to Israel is doing nothing to lessen the excitement felt by David and his fellow trekkers as they prepare for the adventure of a lifetime in November 2024.

David Kemp is fundraising for Julia’s House while achieving a bucket list ambition

David Kemp is fundraising for Julia’s House while achieving a bucket list ambition

Less than 100 miles from Israel

David Kemp, formerly principal of Leeson House in Langton Matravers, said:

“Petra itself is on the western side of Jordan, and less than a hundred miles from Israel, but at the moment events like this are taking place in Jordan without any problems.

“It has been high on my bucket list for a while, but I’m also quite keen not to fly if I can help it, for environmental reasons.

“Going to places like Petra is rather difficult unless you are prepared to fly there, but I felt I could justify the flying if the beneficiary was as worthwhile as Julia’s House, which is an excellent cause.”


Petra was voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the World in the year 2000

Spending nights under canvas

David added:

“I am now trying to get in shape for the trek. I’ve discovered over the years that as you get older you get fitter more slowly and less fit a lot more quickly.

“But I am trying, we went out for a six mile walk yesterday and before that, a ten mile training walk with some others who will be going on the trek.

“That was on Cranborne Chase, where conditions were not exactly the same as they will be in Jordan apart from the fact that the sun was shining – but even then it was quite chilly.”

The group of around 30 will be led by local guides through mountains and desert, carrying what they need by day and spending nights under canvas as the temperature plummets from daytime highs of 30 degrees to zero overnight.

The Wadi Rum desert is a landscape of extremes

The Wadi Rum desert is a landscape of extremes, freezing by night and baking by day

“Taking a shower will be a luxury”

David Kemp said:

“We have had lots of information about what we should take and what we should prepare for, we have been very well briefed on appropriate clothing, in terms of blisters, sunburn, sweating and hygiene, and also for religious reasons.

“Generally speaking we will not be walking through inhabited areas and have been advised that taking a shower will be a very occasional luxury.

“Seeing Petra itself is my personal goal, but I enjoy walking and like having a challenge. Walking through deserts and arid scenery is something I’ve always enjoyed.

“A long time ago I spent a year as a volunteer in Sierra Leone, which is very much not desert, but I hitchhiked home and got a lift on a lorry full of sheep across the Sahara, an experience which has always stayed with me.”


The Treasury, Petra, one of the filming locations for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Once the centre of the spice trade

Petra, dating back to around 300BC, is a city half built and half carved into pink sandstone cliffs earning it the nickname of the rose red city.

The city was once the capital of the Arabic tribe of Nabataea and was at the centre of the spice trade between China, Egypt, India and Greece – but today many people know it as the film set location of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

David, who is the only representative from Purbeck on the trek, has a Just Giving page running to raise funds and is also running a Rock Quiz in Corfe Castle – as the name Petra comes from the word for rock in Greek.

David is also selling geological postcards of Purbeck, and is raffling a bottle of champagne at a coffee morning in Corfe Castle on Saturday 6th July 2024, where there will be homemade rock cakes to buy.


Chief executive of Julia’s House, Martin Edwards

“Government funding incredibly low”

Julia’s House chief executive Martin Edwards has highlighted the need for fundraising, after revealing that the charity is one of the lowest funded hospices in the country, receiving just eight per cent government funding.

Martin Edwards said:

“Fundraising efforts cover 92 per cent of annual running cost, which are more vital than ever as we face a £1m budget deficit this year – the cost of our care this year will be £3.34 million in Dorset and £2.23 in Wiltshire.

“The cost of living situation has not only increased the hospice’s costs considerably over the past few years but has also meant everyone has got less money in their pockets to donate to charities.

“With our government funding still incredibly low, it leaves us hugely reliant on people remembering us in their wills or buying second-hand clothes in our shops or jumping out of aeroplanes.”


Camels are the usual mode of transport in the Wadi Rum, but David will be tackling it on foot

“Families need our help more than ever”

Chantelle Shave, Julia’s House events fundraiser, added:

“We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the amazing support of the local community over the last 20 years, but the families we support need our help more than ever.

“All the money raised from the challenge events will help Julia’s House to continue its vital care for local families, from providing expert clinical and emotional support to helping vulnerable families access grants and benefits that can help them through the current cost of living crisis.

“With more children living longer with increasingly complex medical conditions requiring round the clock care, the essential respite breaks Julia’s House gives to families couldn’t be more critical. The continued support of the local community is vital to our future.”

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