Ron Dearing UTC student Matthew set for 6,000 metre charity trek in Nepal

A Ron Dearing UTC student is preparing for the adventure of a lifetime, tackling the highest trekking peak in Nepal to raise money for charity.

Matthew Preston-Blake, 15, and his father Kris Blake will trek 6,476 metres to the summit of Mera Peak during a 17-day endurance challenge that will test their stamina to the limit.

They are raising money for Freddie’s Friends, a charity set up in memory of two-year-old Freddie Appleyard, who was born with a rare brain disorder and died in December 2008 after battling a series of serious health complications since birth.

Ron Dearing UTC student Matthew Preston-Blake during his Everest Base Camp trek in 2019.


The charity provides specialist equipment, support and respite for disabled children and their families and more than £500 has already been raised towards Matthew and Kris’ £2,000 fundraising target.

The father and son duo have funded the entire cost of the trek themselves, ensuring every penny raised through donations is donated directly to Freddie’s Friends.

They will fly to Kathmandu on April 11 and onto Lukla, taking in stunning views of the Himalayas and acclimatising to the altitude and surroundings in the Mount Everest region.

Year 10 student Matthew and Kris are no strangers to trekking and Matthew became one of the youngest ever people to reach Everest Base Camp when he was just 12 years old, raising more than £1,500 for the Hull 4 Heroes charity.

They will be accompanied to the summit of Mera Peak by an experienced Sherpa who has climbed Mount Everest 14 times.

Matthew said: “I’m really excited to reach the summit but also slightly nervous. It will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I love the culture, the people and everything about the country.

“I hope we can raise as much money as possible for the charity.”

Kris Blake, left, with his son Matthew Preston-Blake, went wild camping and trekking in the Scottish Highlands in preparation for their for their Mera Peak challenge.


Matthew and Kris will trek for between six to seven hours per day and stay in teahouses, similar to mountain lodges, overnight.

Kris, Director of Hull and Leeds-based AJ Building, a Partner of Ron Dearing UTC, said: “It will be great to complete another trek with my son and everyone at Ron Dearing UTC has been really supportive.

“I’m really proud Matthew can join me on this trek because he will gain some excellent life skills.

“He gained a powerboat qualification and open water diving certificate all before he was 13 years old and he’s been ice climbing in Scotland. This will be another great adventure.”

Matthew and Kris’ preparation for the trek included a weekend expedition in the Scottish Highlands, as the challenge in Nepal will put their fitness levels to the test during the trip.

Matthew Preston-Blake, left, and his dad Kris on their Everest Base Camp trek.


Freddie’s mother Rachel Appleyard, who is also Key Stage 4 Information, Advice and Guidance Mentor at Ron Dearing UTC, said she is grateful to the pair for supporting the charity.

She said: “It’s amazing that Matthew and Kris have chosen to raise money for Freddie’s Friends.

“It’s a small charity run by my husband and I, and every penny raised will make such a difference to the children and their families.

“Everyone at Ron Dearing UTC is so proud of Matthew and Kris. Not only are they gaining such an incredible life experience, they’re raising awareness of Freddie’s Friends too.

“We’re looking forward to following their journey and hearing about it when they come back.”

To sponsor Matthew and Kris click here.