Hi there, before I go into the nitty-gritty of this year’s adventurous hike at the Lake District, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Nadine Walsh-Gonzalez and I currently work as a Paralegal here at Verisona Law in the Wills, Probate & Trusts Team. Following many years of studies and my experiences taken from my current role I am hoping to complete a Training Contract in the near future to become a fully qualified Solicitor.
My daughter has recently turned 1 and I did ask myself why I had signed up for this challenge, as life with a 1 year old can be wonderfully challenging at times, not to mention the sleep deprivation. But she is actually one of the reasons I signed up for the challenge as she will learn one day that life is all about taking on new and exciting challenges. I think it helps you grow as a person, builds character and makes you stronger. Another reason why I took part in this challenge is because it is a great team building exercise and it gave me the opportunity to get to know one of my work colleagues. [Working for the same firm but different locations can often mean you don’t get really talk to fellow work colleagues.] I also took part in the 2015 LawNet Challenge which comprised of a hike up Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England, also at the Lake District. So I thought to myself, “if I survived the 2015 challenge, how bad can this challenge be?!”
Little did I know, that I was about to experience the worst weather conditions ever experienced at a LawNet challenge, which have been running for the past 9 years now. I believe experiences have to be lived and cannot be told. I will however, try my best to describe what my experience was of last weekend’s hike.
First of all, what actually is the LawNet challenge? It is an event for LawNet members (law firms) offering the opportunity for members to network in an informal setting. The organisers of the event highlight that “the main aim, although it is called a ‘challenge event’, is to simply have fun!” [I believe this year, unfortunately due to the weather, the fun and networking did not happen during the challenge but mainly took place at the hostel bar!]
I travelled up to the Lake District on Friday the 9th June 2017 by train from Portsmouth which took approximately 6 hours. My first day at Patterdale ended with a lovely pub meal and a peaceful night’s sleep at the hostel with no interruptions from my daughter, the cats or my husband!
Saturday morning I woke up at 6am and was greeted by the rain outside. I quickly got ready, made sure my rucksack was packed and had some breakfast. Before setting off at 7.30am we had a team meeting and were told that due to the severe weather conditions (rain and winds of at least 50mph!) the route would need to be changed for health and safety reasons. We therefore started the hike where we were meant to end it. We were also told that we will have no views and we may not make it to the north-east ridge known as Swirral Edge, a sharp arête, which was meant to be the highlight of the challenge. I was in team number 2 which comprised of 7 members including our guide. I was slightly anxious from the start as I was the only woman in a team of men all having vast experience of hiking, including the organiser of the event, George Coombes. But I was determined to complete the challenge- once I start something I always have to finish it.
I did not mind the rain at first and the first half hour of the hike was quite pleasant. The first challenge began when I had to climb over a fence- I am very short so needed assistance. As the hike progressed we started ascending towards Helvellyn, although to be honest, for the most part of this challenge I had no idea where I was or what time it was. I struggled the most going uphill. It made feeling fatigued, hot and it felt like I was doing an intensive cardio work out. Overall my team did manage to complete the orange route which took us 6 hours. I was soaking wet and despite having purchased ‘waterproof’ gear, nothing remained waterproof after 6 hours of constant rain. Our lovely guide Matt pointed out that he had never seen weather this bad in June before and he has never had to get the emergency shelter out in June either. So there I was, sat on a rock in a puddle huddled up with my team under a florescent yellow emergency shelter eating my sandwich. I got really cold very quickly but put my soaking wet gloves back on which was another challenge in itself! What’s more, shortly after our lunch our guide contacted the other groups and was told that 49 people out of approximately 87 turned around and did not continue the hike! This certainly left the organisers of the challenge worried for next year, but I personally don’t think they have anything to worry about.
Before heading back to the hostel we descended down Swirral Edge, there was no wind at that particular point which made it safer, however, it was still raining and the wet rocks were very slippery. This was the scariest part of the challenge for me and was quite testing both physically and psychologically. That is why I love taking part in the LawNet challenge, it challenged me in so many different ways and I was filled with pride and a sense of accomplishment afterwards. Even though it did feel like torture at times, I would definitely take part in next year’s challenge. It will be the 10th anniversary challenge next year which I am sure will be an unforgettable experience.
- Will drafting
- Review of existing Wills
- Advice re provision for children, second families, spouses and civil partners, unmarried partners and other family members
- Advice re charitable gifts
- Advice re foreign and business assets
- Advice re Will trusts
- Inheritance Tax advice.
- Advice re Trust creation and ongoing management
- Preparation of trust deeds and other trust documentation
- Declarations of Trust
- Termination of trusts.
Probate and Administration of Estates
- Advice re the terms of the Will or intestacy rules where there is no Will
- Obtaining values for the various assets and liabilities in the estate, notifying the various institutions and obtaining all necessary estate information
- Obtaining a grant of probate or letters of administration as appropriate
- Dealing with and advice re Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax and Income Tax, liaising with HMRC
- Notifying and liaising with the beneficiaries of the estate
- Preparing a deed of variation or a deed of disclaimer in relation to the estate
- Selling or transferring the various assets due to the beneficiaries
- Dealing with foreign assets and Wills
- Advice re estate disputes and claims against an estate
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