Inspirational eight-year-old Tony Hudgell conquered his first Lakeland fell on Tuesday (Aug 8th)from his base camp at The Swan, Grasmere, as he summited Orrest Head as a fundraising challenge in support of the Bendrigg Trust, Crohn’s & Colitis UK, Fix the Fells, and his own eponymous Foundation.
Following in the footsteps of Alfred Wainwright and supported by local guide and fundraiser Steve Watts MBE, Summit’s Up for Tony saw the youngster make The Swan at Grasmere expedition headquarters in the build-up and following the climb.
Starting the day with an early morning call for an appearance on BBC Breakfast, it was then a short transfer to Windermere and the starting point of the ascent.
The double amputee made light work of the 238 meter fell, reaching the summit in a little over an hour and flanked by supporters, his friend Jack and other well-wishers spurring him on.
Included in that number were legendary mountaineer Sir Chris Bonnington and Hari Budha Magar, who recently became the first double, above-knee amputee to summit Mount Everest and had taken a keen interest in Tony’s quest.
Capturing the imagination of the nation back in 2020 aged just 5, the determined youngster took inspiration from Sir Capt. Tom Moore by raising funds for the hospital that saved his life when he was brought in aged just six weeks old.
Inflicted with severe injuries inflicted by his birth parents, which resulted in multiple fractures, and dislocations that eventually led to both of his legs being amputated, Tony has to date raised more the £1.7million for good causes.
After completing the climb, around 100 supporters including family, friends and other organisations that got behind the attempt regrouped in The Swan’s beer garden to welcome Tony back from his triumphant endeavour.
Treated to nibbles from the Inn’s menu of pub classic dishes and for the adults, a complimentary glass of local ale Grasmere Gold, generously donated by Tirrell’s Brewery, gathered attendees were able to display their admiration of what had been achieved.
The day drew to a close with Sir Chris and Magar presenting Hudgell with a commemorative Lakeland slate plaque and the team at The Swan increasing their donation to the challenge from £509 up to a round £1000.
As of lunchtime on Wednesday, August 9, the total raised for the four causes exceeded £30,000, with donations still able to be donated here.
Speaking after the event, general manager of The Swan, Nigel Brown said: “It was amazing what the team here at The Swan, The Inn Collection Group as a whole, Nellie [fellow general manager Nellie Buxton] and I were able to do to support Tony.
“When we were first approached by Steve about supporting the challenge, we were more than happy to cover Tony and his family’s stay and they have thoroughly enjoyed their time with us.
“Going up the fell with him was something special, he left us all trailing as he just flew up the trails and made it look easy.
“He’s an inspirational little fella and we’re all delighted to have played our part in making this a special day for all involved.”