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Purna - a Gurkha’s tale

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Longcross Construction is an Associate Member with the Considerate Constructors Scheme. They got in touch with Industry Image to tell us about the adventure of a Longcross Construction member, a Gurkha called Purna, and his courageous attempt to stand on top of the World.

Purna is a member of the logistics team on site at our Castle Mill project, managing and maintaining the flow of traffic to and from the development. He had the opportunity to climb the highest point in the World, Mount Everest, in aid of Nepalese Children who are tragically ill and who have no family or little or no support.

This opportunity was given to Purna and his peers by the Nepalese Government after Purna had joined the British Army in 1981 with the 1/7 Gurkha Rifles and subsequently joined the 7th Duke of Edinburgh Gurkha Rifles.

Purna has been working as a security officer/traffic manager for Longcross since January 2012 marshalling construction traffic along Roger Dudman Way to the Castle Mill Student Accommodation development in Oxford.

On the 4th April Purna and his companions set off for their challenge of conquering Everest. On the 5th April the expedition arrived in Nepal where they stayed in Nepal City for a week which included the preparation for the climb, briefings on the task and the conditions that lay ahead of them on the forthcoming expedition.

On the 12th April Purna and the Gurkha expedition left Nepal with a full understanding as to what would lie before them and headed to Lukla. After a day of travelling, the group arrived at their temporary resting place. The group had one final day before the climb would begin in earnest.

The following day the Gurkhas left Lukla and began a two day trek to Khumjung, the final stop off before arriving at Base Camp. That evening and the following day, the group collected the essentials for the climb including food, clothing and breathing apparatus.

On the 15th of April the expedition set off on the arduous march to the Base Camp. However, before setting off, they were warned by the local government that the warm weather may cause some disruption for the trip.

The expedition began and after two days walking the group discovered that further up the mountain an avalanche had occurred and was heading towards them. The group immediately tried to take shelter. Unfortunately events overtook them and the avalanche hit a number of the expedition including Purna. Due to the force of the avalanche, a mixture of extreme winds and blinding snow, Purna and many members of the expedition lost all essential equipment including money, breathing apparatus, travel documents (including passports) and clothing. The group had to dig each other out of the snow and regroup.

Purna’s only possessions that survived were the clothes that he was in and a flag that was secured around his chest ready to unfurl on the success of his team’s mission.

A difficult decision had to be made whether to continue on the mountain and to at least make Base Camp or turn back and head back down to Khumjung to re-gather and restructure the climb plans.

The group made the difficult decision to head back and re plan the climb and wait for the bad weather to clear.

Eventually back at Khumjung, the group were informed that their dream of climbing the highest point was shattered and they no longer had the opportunity to climb.

The Gurkhas' misadventure happened at the same time as a unit of British soldiers were on the mountain and were injured, also abandoning their Mount Everest charity climb because of safety fears.

Industry Image would like to congratulate Purna and the rest of the Gurkha expedition for their attempt at conquering Everest...and for their commitment to saving the Scheme branded flag!