With Richard Branson watching on, Sam Branson was rescued by emergency helicopter after completing the epic Virgin Strive Challenge by climbing the Matterhorn.
High drama, epic adventures, brushes with death and helicopter rescues - the Virgin Strive Challenge certainly lived up to its name! Sam, his cousin Noah Devereaux and Stephen Shanly made it to the summit of the Matterhorn, with the rest of the core team having to turn back due to extreme weather and exhaustion.
After running, rowing, cycling and hiking from London to the bottom of the Matterhorn, the team began the 4,478 metres climb to the peak of the most iconic mountain in Europe. Hours later, Richard Branson watched on from a helicopter as a dramatic scene unfolded. Just behind the leading pack, Sam was suffering from horrific altitude sickness. He couldn't breathe and was retching uncontrollably. 200 metres from the top, Kenton, the lead guide from Dream Guides urged Sam to get a rescue helicopter off the mountain immediately. But with the end in sight, Sam was determined to complete the month long Challenge and make it to the summit.
The Virgin Strive Challenge has certainly proved to be an epic journey. It has all been to raise money for the Big Change charity and raise awareness about young people developing life skills. Head over to Big Change and Virgin Strive Challenge to find out more at www.strivechallenge.co.uk
Richard Branson commented: “I watched all of the drama unfold and felt totally helpless. There was no way Sam would have made it back down the mountain on foot. Having experienced eight helicopter rescues myself, it clearly runs in the family. I joked with Sam that I hoped this would be a one off and not the first of eight for him too!
“It was just magnificent seeing the team achieve their goal after going through so much. It was a magical moment that will live long in the memory. All of the team have learnt a huge amount themselves, and we are very proud of every single one of them.”
Sister Holly Branson told her brother, “the challenge was only from London to the top of the Matterhorn – nobody said anything about coming down again!”
Sam Branson commented: “By the time we completed the Challenge and reached to summit, I hardly knew where I was. I had a blinding headache and could only briefly look up and take in the open blue sky. Having seen the Matterhorn dominating the view for weeks, I wondered briefly where it had gone!
I’m so proud of all the team, and especially want to thank the guides and helicopter rescue service for getting me off the mountain in one piece! The Virgin Strive Challenge certainly lived up to its name.”