THE Deputy Mayor of Woking has completed the gruelling Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge to raise money for the maternity unit at St Peter’s Hospital. 

M Ilyas Raja, 72, finished the 24-mile walk in the required 12 hours, while people half his age gave up.

The challenge involves climbs of 5,249ft up Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough.

Cllr Raja said the challenge was hard, especially as his practice walks were mostly on level ground in Woking with one or two climbs up Box Hill and Newlands Corner, with none of the journeys more than six hours long.

He was accompanied on the challenge by 20 friends from Woking and Halifax, four of whom, all in their mid-30s, failed to complete the walk.

Cllr Raja said the most difficult peak was Whernside, the second and highest of the three at 2,414ft.

“The good thing was that there was a walking track from the base to the top, but it was a long one at more than 12 miles,” he said.

Cllr Raja said he felt “tired but very happy” at the end and recuperated by having long baths when he got home.

“It was difficult, but I was determined to do it,” he said.

Cllr Raja has so far raised £1,389 for the St Peter’s maternity unit, where his five children were born.

“It has provided tremendous care and support for families over many years. It is important that, as a community, we give back to the NHS to say thank you for all that our hospital does for us.”

He said the main focus of the charity to which he will give the money is to enhance the hospital’s environment and provide equipment and services that the NHS cannot provide.

The challenge was Cllr Raja’s third fundraising effort for St Peter’s and he has also raised money for Woking Hospice and the community hospital several times.

“I enjoy doing fundraising. It gives me a lot of satisfaction,” he said.

Cllr Raja said he was particularly grateful for the support of his family and members of Woking Park Bowls Club for their support in his charity fundraising.

He said the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge was good practice for the huge amount of walking that will be involved when he becomes mayor next year.

“I am also thinking of doing a long walk for the mayoral charity next year,” Cllr Raja said.