Welsh tech entrepreneur scales three peaks to save local school

Technology entrepreneur Brian Stokes and professional boxer Geraint Goodridge recently completed the Three Welsh Peaks Challenge to save a local school.

Brian, founder and managing director of tech support firm ITCS, decided to team up with the sports star when he heard that his local school was going through financial struggles.

Having been long-term friends, Brian and Geraint tackled the Three Welsh Peaks amid one of the coldest weekends in Winter. They managed to complete it in half the time allowed for the summer challenge.

Stoke set up his tech business in a small shop in Maesteg fourteen years ago, before going on to turn it into an award-winning company employing 40 members of staff.

However, he’s never forgotten his Afan Valley roots and was distraught when he heard that his old school was in need of funds to fight the possibility of closure.

The Three Peaks Challenge is famed right around the world, although it usually takes place in the summer months. Brian and Geraint undertook a distance of 18 miles in hazardous February weather.

They completed the challenge in the middle of the coldest weekend of winter and endured temperatures of minus 14 degrees. But the brave pair didn’t give up.

Brian said: “Coming down Snowdon was eerie, the only footprints we saw were our own, and climbing back down the ‘ice ladder’ we had carved into the mountain was scary.

“One slip and we would have been in grave danger, but we had to keep pushing on. However, the real challenge, to stop the school from closing, is only just beginning.

“This school is a cornerstone of the Afan Valley community, so it is vitally important that we do all we can to save it.  I’m proud we were able to play our part and we’ll be helping the school in any way we can.”

It’s extremely rare for people to reach the summit of snow and ice-covered mountains during these weather conditions, though that didn’t stop Brian and Geraint from climbing the three peaks.

The boxer said: “I work hard to maintain my fight fitness and boxing training is extremely gruelling, so I was amazed how physically challenging this climb was.

“As Brian says though, the real fight to save the school is only just beginning.   Afan Valley is a great school, coming 6th in the annual Real Schools Guide  – and closure would see our children leaving home at 7am to reach the alternative school in Margam.  It’s a senseless decision, so I’m confident this is a fight we can win.”

Cymmer Labour Councillor Scott Jones praised the pair: “I’m proud of Brian and Geraint, two local residents, who have given phenomenal support to our campaign to save education in the Afan Valley.

“This closure would have an adverse impact on the health, wellbeing and education of our young people and we will fight it all the way.  These funds will be a massive help.”