Up the Jungle for St Christopher’s Hospice


Prince Alfred I presume?

Last year Debbie Murphy, Landlady of the Prince Alfred pub in Sydenham, (on the corner of Kent House Road), and one of her regulars, Tony ‘The Colonel’ Harris trekked a hundred miles through the Cuban jungle in five days, to raise money for St. Christopher’s Hospice in Sydenham. In the end they managed to raise £5,025.

This year our intrepid duo decided to ratchet the challenge up a notch and have now just returned from completing a similar hike; this time through the Brazilian jungle. The event was organised by Classic Tours, which specialises in these sort of sponsored charity endeavours.

Debbie said, ” The going was really quite hard; lots of very steep mountains to climb; very nasty narrow trails, next to long drops: and in the last two days, when we were deep in the jungle, loads of tick insects and quite a few snakes”. The Colonel on the other hand mostly remembers being taken completely by surprise by the weather, during the early part of the trek. ” It was really cold! ” he said. ” Wet clinging mist and even rain! No one mentioned this in the briefing notes and all I had on for the first day was a thin army jungle shirt and trousers; definitely not the clothing of choice. In fact it was so wet that we had to fit snow chains on the old truck that drove us for three hours to the start point, just to get through the muddy tracks. So you can imagine what it was like when the route meant that we had to walk through it”.

Debbie, who previously had the ‘Dolphin’ pub in Sydenham, has been running the ‘Prince’ for the last ten years, with her daughter Lisa. Tony who is 56 years old, on the other hand, works as a consultant for an advertising agency, near London Bridge, and has recently retired after thirty years in the Territorial Army, where he enjoyed a very varied career. Initially involved in long range reconnaissance missions, he then spent three years in the regimental intelligence cell, before becoming the Regimental Forward Observation Officer, teaching his own and other regiments ” in the arcane art of Artillery fire control”.

From the Dolphin to the Prince Alfred

“We’ve always supported St. Christopher’s”,said Debbie. ” We’ve had celebrity darts and celebrity snooker nights, as well as auctions, raffles and all kinds of things. The idea of doing these hikes only started last year as another way of bringing in extra money through sponsorship”. Tony said,” My own Mother visited many of her friends there and always spoke very highly of the place. ‘ They look after the people very well there and let you die with dignity’, she said.

Now recovered from three swollen knees, five tick bites and four aching feet, they are looking forward to a team reunion, at the Prince Alfred in November.

But although the Hike may be over, their collecting efforts on behalf of the Hospice are not and they are hoping for some more late sponsors or donations. So if anyone feels like popping down with a token of thanks for their achievement to the Prince Alfred, (and have a look at the photos round the bar), they would be most welcome. You can hand your donation to whoever is on duty behind the bar, or just drop it in the bottle! They hope to see you there.


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