Hackney charity founder raises £150K scaling highest peak in Antarctica

Henry Smith & Friends.      Pic: Henry Smith

The founder of a knife crime charity in Hackney has returned from a trek to the highest peak in Antarctica, raising £150,000.

Hackney-born Henry Smith set out on the trip with the aim of raising £75,000.

He returned from the summit of Mount Vinson last week having doubled his initial fundraising target.

Smith, 57, set up The Wickers charity last year to tackle violent crime in Hackney. This is an issue close to home following his brother-in-law’s fatal stabbing in Stratford 20 years ago.

“I think it resonates,” he told The Evening Standard. “Knife crime, gun crime is a serious issue in London, it’s almost like you hear about these children being stabbed, dying – it’s every day.”

Smith is pleased to have raised so much money, but facing minus 55C temperatures and almost losing his nose to frostbite proved more challenging than he could have expected.

He described being only 50 metres from the summit when his guide grabbed him by the arm and threatened to take him back to the bottom.

“He looks at me and he’s going, ‘your nose, your nose is gone’.”

Henry Smith on his trek.      Pic: Henry Smith

But Smith was adamant that, with help from senior guides, he would reach the summit. The team wrapped scarves around Smith’s head and face to reduce the effects of frostbite, which allowed them to reach the summit.

“I’ve got 50 metres [to go], we’ve got all this money,” he said. “I’ve got to get there”.

On his return to London, Smith discovered that he had exceeded his fundraising goal and said people have been “really, really generous”.

The Wickers charity aims to tackle issues of violent and gang related crime in East London. Workshops, recreational activities and educational classes teach young people in Hackney about the implications of knife crime.

Donations can be made to The Wickers here.

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