University of Bristol: Student’s epic challenge in memory of ‘beautiful mummy’

Ben Bellman has enlisted the help of three best friends to trek the highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales – Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon – in one, arduous 24 hour push starting this Saturday.

Ben’s mum, Michelle Bellman, passed away in 2019 aged 51, after an 11 year battle with cancer.

Throughout this decade-long ordeal, the mum-of-three refused to bow her head and remained fiercely strong and positive despite chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiotherapy, surgeries and transplants.

Philosophy second year Ben said: “After nearly two years without my beautiful mummy, it still doesn’t feel real. There’s a part of me that still hopes she’ll walk through the door and take all our pain away.

“The disease which mum inspirationally fought for 11 years has brought our family immense grief – there’s a hole inside my heart that will never be filled, a cloud over my head that will never go away and three children who never get to see their mummy again.”

To mark two years since Michelle’s passing, Ben – along with fellow University of Bristol student Henry Mattey and Leeds University students Jacob Steinberg and Tom Miller – will walk 23 miles and scale around 3,000metres of mountain.

Driving between the peaks means the team, who grew up in Finchley North London, will have limited time to reach the summits and will have to hike approximately 14 hours, much of it through the night.

“It’s a daunting task for four inexperienced hikers but it’s nothing compared to the 11 years that my mum fought inspirationally against a disease which just wouldn’t let our family be,” said Ben.

“Despite all the pain mum was in, she always managed to light up a room with her smile, strength and energy – showing everyone that despite all the darkness in this world there is light.

“It is this message that we want to spread to all those struggling, whether that be with grief or with their own mental battle, keep hope within your heart as there is so much light in this world no matter how dark it gets.”

The team have already raised £14,500 for Grief Encounter, a charity which supports bereaved children and young people.

They have spent the last few months training and mentally preparing themselves for the challenge.

“To be doing this with my best mates means everything to me,” Ben said. “We’ve known each other since we were nine and we are going to make sure we all make it through.

“But it’s not just the day they are helping me through, they help me through everything – helping me cope with grief in the most positive way possible.”

Sarah Purdy, the University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience, said: “Ben and his friends are taking on a truly daunting challenge for an amazing cause in memory of his beautiful mum.

“We wish them the best of luck as they take on the National Three Peaks challenge.