celebrating 15 years of inspirational fundraising challenges

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The Charity Challenge Team

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Climbing Kilimanjaro often proves to be a life changing experience. It certainly was for Jeremy Gane & Simon Albert, the founding Directors of Charity Challenge in the UK. Jeremy climbed the world highest freestanding mountain for the first time back in 1991. He fell in love with Africa and on his return to the UK set up Gane & Marshall, now the UK's number one climbing outfit for Kilimanjaro. Five years later he led a group of charity trekkers up the mountain. It was his fifteenth summit climb and the first for Simon Albert, one of the fundraising participants. The two became good friends and subsequently organised and led trips to Cuba, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia together before setting up Charity Challenge UK.

They approached the UK Charities Commission, the Civil Aviation Authority, the Centre for Environmentally Responsible Tourism (CERT), the Institute of Fundraising, Tourism Concern and many other organisations to make sure that Charity Challenge worked to the best practices in the charity and travel industries.

Over the last twelve years, Charity Challenge has established an incredible infrastructure for running numerous and varied group adventure travel expeditions around the world. Charity Challenge has worked with many of the UK's largest charities (including UNICEF, Save the Children, NSPCC, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Plan International, Diabetes UK) and many smaller charities. Over 1300 charities have been supported through Charity Challenge, raising over £35m / $50m to date.

Its corporate client list includes Tesco, Accenture, Diageo, KPMG, Citbank, The Body Shop Foundation, Credit Suisse, Lloyds TSB, HBOS, Saatchi and Saatchi, Freshfields, Serco and Reuters.

It has worked on media projects with the BBC, ITV2, GMTV, the Daily Mirror and the News of the World, COMPANY magazine, Prima, and Health and Fitness magazines.

Charity Challenge organised the high profile trekking challenge to Machu Picchu for showbiz legend Denise Van Outen and Radio 1 DJ Fearne Cotton! The pair were joined by Alexandra Burke, Amanda Byram, Gabriella Cilmi, and the Daily Mirror. View photographs from the challenge.

In 2009 Charity Challenge organised the very successful BT Red Nose Day Kilimanjaro Climb for Gary Barlow, Cheryl Cole, Kimberley Walsh, Ronan Keating, Chris Moyles, Denise Van Outen, Alesha Dixon, Ben Shephard and Fearne Cotton which raised over £3.35m / $5m for Comic Relief. To see a short film of some of the celebrities on the climb, please click here.

In Jan 2012, Charity Challenge Travel Services was launched in Canada and is being run out of our sales agents' offices in Eden, Ontario. We are building the number of exciting challenges on offer and the range of Canadian charities that can be supported.  

CHARITY CHALLENGE NEWS ARCHIVE: 20 years of Charity Challenge!

staff profiles

Simon Albert - Director

Marc Berlin - Canadian Sales Agent

Chad Anderson - Business Development Manager

Bina Popat - Groups Travel Co-Ordinator

Sharmee Shah - Finance Executive

Raj Joshi - British Chief Medical Officer

Trevor Gibbs - British Challenge Leader

Simon Albert

Simon Albert

Footsteps of the Maasai "For me nothing can compare with the experience of trekking across the Great African Rift Valley, guided by the local Maasai tribesmen. The peoples, wildlife, scenery, and the challenge itself were all inspirational and I keep looking for ways to top it!"


Simon has travelled extensively throughout the developing world, climbing mountains, rafting rivers and helping local NGOs to build schools and health centres. Having completed a Business Studies degree, he trained as a brand manager working on Nescafe coffee. He began charity trekking as a participant in 1995 to Jordan and then climbed Kilimanjaro the following year. He identified a niche in the expeditions market and, on returning to the UK, voluntarily organised two expeditions to Cuba and Tanzania - both of which were a huge success. At the age of 27, and having raised more than £100,000 for charity, Simon set up Charity Challenge with co-director and best friend Jeremy Gane. He has personally taken part in many of the challenges. These have included building houses for orphans and vulnerable children in South Africa, as well as for families affected by the Asian tsunami in India and Sri Lanka. Simon has also personally led and organised challenges around the world. His passion for helping others is what drives the constant development of the business. In 2015, his efforts were recognised with a British Citizen Award medal for Business. Simon is married with three young sons and can’t wait until they can join him on a trek to Everest Base Camp or to visit the temples of Angkor Wat.

Marc Berlin

Marc Berlin
Canadian Sales Agent

Marc is a long time entrepreneur with almost two decades of hands on business ownership and management.  After studying business he moved to San Diego, California where he owned and operated a number of business ventures.  It was during his last two years in the United States that Marc began to donate his time to local schools, Shelters and lower income neighborhoods by offering the services from his landscaping and tree service companies.  Marc was able to assist in the betterment of a local daycare, that offered free admission to the children of women that had suffered from abuse.  It was then that he really saw the difference one person could make, and realized that his life had to shift in a brand new direction.

“To think that I’m not only able to help those in need, which in itself is gratifying enough, but that I’m also able to see the world, experience many beautiful cultures, and witness firsthand the good that Charity Challenge is doing…….........what can I say. It makes me smile from ear to ear!”

With a handful of successful businesses behind him, Marc has focused his attention to the Canadian charity sector and his company Introductory Solutions Inc have been appointed as the Canadian Sales Agency for Charity Challenge within Canada. With a wife and two children inspiring him to continually raise the bar, Marc is full steam ahead with Charity Challenge Canada.

Chad Anderson

Chad Anderson
Business Development Manager

"My favorite of all of our challenges is the Escambray  Encounter. In 2010  I was fortunate enough to lead a group in the Escambray mountains in Cuba. It was my first visit to Cuba and I was blown away by the wonderful people and fantastic sights. The trek was tougher than I first expected but it was a wonderful challenge. Apart from the amazing nature and waterfalls of the Escambray Mountains other  highlights included vibrant Havana and ancient Trinidad. I have made strong friendships with my fellow trekkers and was humbled by the emotional stories and motives of those who undertook the challenge."

Chad left his home country of South Africa 19 years ago to go travelling for a few months, somewhere along the way he was bitten by the proverbial travel bug and just kept on going. He's lived and worked on 6 continents and finally settled in London in 1999.

Bina Popat

Bina Popat
Groups Travel Co-Ordinator

"Trekking on the Great Wall of China, one of the seven wonders of the world, is something I have always dreamt of doing. I would love to experience the beautiful and vibrant Chinese culture and Terracotta Warriors."

Bina has recently joined Charity Challenge as our Groups Travel Co-Ordinator. She has 17 years experience in the airline industry having worked for Aer Lingus and SriLankan Airlines and is also trained in  IATA fares and ticketing part1 and part 2. Born in Malawi, educated in India(Ooty) and studied further for a  Business Studies Diploma in the UK, Bina is also a qualified beauty Therapist and a spiritual healer (REIKI)!

Sharmee Shah

Sharmee Shah
Finance Executive

“Having joined Charity Challenge almost 4 years ago I haven’t yet experienced any of the exciting and challenging expeditions.  However I would most certainly like to take up the Thailand Jungle Expedition. Having visited Thailand before I would most definitely like to go back and trek through the scenic mountains, rice fields, bamboo forest and interact with the local villagers.”

Born and brought up in Kenya, Sharmee did her travel diploma in London and after graduating moved back to Kenya where she worked for a Travel and Tour Operator. She has worked in the travel industry for the past 13 years. She moved to UK 8 years ago and ever since worked in the travel industry. She joined the finance department at Charity Challenge to get a varied experience.  Travelling is most certainly her hobby and has visited a number of countries and exotic places.

Raj Joshi

Raj Joshi
British Chief Medical Officer

Everest Base Camp Trek: “An utterly magical experience. There is something about the place which is deeply spiritual. The journey to the Base Camp of Everest provides you with a challenge where you will be rewarded with some of the world's most awesome views. It is the culture and folk of Nepal  which makes the experience extra special, being some of the most genuine and hospitable people on earth.”

A graduate from Birmingham University, Raj has always had a passion for the mountains and exploration. Much of his spare time has been spent on expeditions with a few close friends. To follow this interest, Raj has taken brief sabbaticals from medicine. This allowed Raj the opportunity to work with Charity Challenge, where he has gained a unique perspective, having been a leader and medical officer on several trips. He is Chief Medical Officer and in charge of the medical operations for the company. Some of his duties include scrutinising every client’s medical details to ensure they are fit for the trip, helping to employ suitable Expedition Medics, training and development of both UK and overseas medical personnel, organisation of comprehensive expedition medical kits. His experience in expedition and remote field medicine not only comes from working with Charity Challenge but through his own expeditions, where he summitted Mount Everest with the British Army in May 2007. In 2009, Raj was fortunate to have been asked by Charity Challenge to lead the celebrity team for the successful Comic Relief expedition on Kilimanjaro. His role as Expedition Leader proved to be immensely enjoyable, if not a somewhat interesting and challenging experience!

Trevor Gibbs

Trevor Gibbs
British Challenge Leader

Everest Base Camp "Standing before a matchless vista of towering ice giants was without doubt one of the most awe inspiring experiences of my life. The Himalayan landscapes proved to be everything I expected and more; a land of meandering river valleys and endless pine forests, majestic mountains and unforgettable views."

The world is too small to cram into one life, but having worked in the travel industry now for well over a decade, I have been fortunate enough to experience some of the most spectacular and breathtaking places on the planet, from the towering slopes of the Himalayas, to the burning deserts of Arabia. With a background in design and print, a lifetime of travel has seen me working as a dive master and a ranch hand, a mural artist and an expedition leader, whilst to date I have been involved a growing number of Charity Challenges and Community builds throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America. They say that travel is addictive, if so then I am the happiest addict I know!