HE’S the pastor who climbed up a staircase and came down a mountain.
Every day over the space of a month, aided by his daughter, Shinfield Baptist Church’s Nathan Hunt climbed up and down his stairs 90 times – a total of 6,000 metres, or the height of Mount Kilimanjaro.
It might have done wonders for his fitness levels, but for Nathan it was about helping others.
“I saw a video that described people in lockdown in countries where there is no government safety net – they might starve,” he says. “One person was going to be kicked out of their home as they couldn’t pay the rent.
“I wanted to help them.”
And he learnt about a challenge by international aid agency Tearfund.
It wanted supporters to take part in The Climb – asking people to walk up and down their stairs, raising money so that the charity can help those living in poverty to deal with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
So Nathan teamed up with Bonnie to take part in the challenge, with an aim of raising £120. But supporters flocked to support them and have raised £2,800 – so far.
“I’m incredibly shocked by how much we’ve raised,” Nathan says. “I had no idea it would raise what it did.
“Our neighbourhood Whatsapp group, Shinfield Baptist Church, the running club I’m in and the Shinfield community, they’ve all been fantastic. There’s been a number of anonymous donors, I can’t thank them personally.”
He admitted that the constant trekking up and down the steps did get repetitive, but Bonnie posted pictures of the types of wildlife that you might see if you were trekking with them. These became posts on their JustGiving page.
While it helped the family, who live in Earley, get some exercise during the lockdown, there was an added benefit for the pastor: “I was inspired by Tearfund,” he says.
“I would often pray for the countries that they help”.
It’s not all that his church has been doing during the pandemic. While its buildings have been closed, it has been meeting online, and members have been looking out for vulnerable and isolated people, working with Shinfield View and collecting for foodbanks.
“It’s opened my eyes,” he says. “We have online services watched by more people that can physically come into the building, we’ve prepared a couple of services for Shinfield View, and we’ve sent flowers and messages to local schools to encourage them.
“People at Shinfield Baptist are good at supporting each other.
“Some have had to self-isolate and we have had a great team organising visitors to them,
dropping things off.
“And we’ve been meeting on Zoom as well.”
Part of that communication has been the encouragement for his mountaineering. Is this the first time that he’s been up a mountain?
“I’ve climbed a few,” he says, “But never that high. I’d like to do the real thing, but it’s a bit crowded and expensive. I can raise more by climbing the stairs.”
To donate, log on to justgiving.com/fundraising/nathanstheclimb2020