Following his acceptance, and a lot of work by several Rotarians to gain the funding to enable to to go, he took a plane to Geneva. He had never been abroad before so taking the plane and then a train to Martigny with only a few words of French to assist him was quite a challenge.
After the first week of training climbing on rock and ice Tom was chosen as a team leader.
The second week Tom was one of seven who set out, all roped together, something that was very necessary as the terrain was treacherous, on a 4 day trek to the foot of Mont Blanc. On one occasion, he fell through the ice and was hanging about 7 metres down with a big drop beneath him. His colleagues were able to bring him up, but he said that he was not the only one as the same happened to most of them.
Not far away from Mont Blanc they arrived at the top of a high waterfall. One of the guides then produced some wetsuits and goggles, and Tom was told to put one of them on. When he asked why the guide said “because we are going to jump, Thomas!” He could not believe this, but he followed the guide and jumped. They were so high, and the air so thin, that he couldn’t scream as he went down!
Tom said he learned a lot about leadership skills and engagement with others as every member of the team relied on each other.
Before he went to Switzerland he was working part time on a temporary contract but after he got home he applied for a full time job with West Sussex Council, and got it.
Tom told the West Worthing Rotary Club about his experiences and in his talk he continually expressed his wonder and amazement that he had done it. He used phrases such as “incredible stuff!”, “still can’t believe I did it!”, “I learned so much in two weeks”, “I didn’t want to come home!”, “Awesome”. Member’s were so impressed, and pleased, that they had been able to give Tom, whose life up until then had not been the best, a helping hand and his talk was the lead story in their monthly Club newsletter.