Kevin Hickman townhouse resident Greg Rhodes, a participant in Ryman’s Walking For Wellness event last year, says this year’s WFW Everest Challenge will bring back very special memories for him.
A trip to Nepal in the early 2000s provided a highlight in his working career, both in terms of meeting the locals and getting the surprise of a lifetime – flying over the peak of Mt Everest.
In September 2005, while working as a director for a large supply firm, based in Afghanistan, he was asked to recruit around 240 staff for a Kabul-based state-of-the art warehousing operation.
He flew into neighbouring Nepal, landing in Kathmandu and as part of the recruitment process. He’d already had a good relationship working with the Gurkhas in Bosnia at the time of unrest in the south eastern European country (formerly part of Yugoslavia) in the late 1990s. He also knew, from this time in Europe, an HR recruitment based in Kathmandu.
By being in Kathmandu – part of the populous Nepal – Greg had access to a lot of potential employees. He says the work was for a US military operation and ISAF but the contracts did not relate to arms but rather to things like fuel, camp construction and maintenance, food supplies to feed those working in military forward operating bases and camps in countries like Afghanistan, Bosnia, Sudan, Congo, Ivory Coast etc
Greg and his team interviewed 600 people. And talk about walking challenges, some of those who had heard about the job walked three or four days to put themselves forward to work for Supreme Foodservice GmbH.
He was supposed to fly out at 2pm on the day after he’d finished his work. But the day before the HR man said be up at 5am for an early pickup. That morning he was taken to the airport and at the on in a relatively small plane to the Himalayas and to circle Everest and fly over the peak. What an experience, he says. The skies were clear and the flight was early in the day before the wind got up.
“They only do those flights in the morning, because the wind gets up in the afternoon... It was absolutely magnificent, a cloudless day. They took us back to the airport, we had lunch and flew out.
“I spent a week in Kathmandu. Absolutely lovely and very loyal people.”
Later, back when he was in Bosnia in 2009, he was presented by the Nepalese military a Gurkha knife for his services to the Nepalese people. Nepali people have a reputation for honesty, loyalty and bravery, which has led to them serving as legendary Gurkha warriors in the Indian and British armies for the last 200 years.
He remembers earlier in his career in the early 2000s when based in Bosnia the British camp at Banja Luka, Bosnia, a company of Gurkha’s, who generally have a good command of English, made a slightly unusual request to be able to bring live goats into the military camp as part of their national celebrations. While this request was a firm no rom the British command, he still managed to smuggle the goats into the secure facility for their celebrations.
Both Greg and his wife Noeline took part in the last walking for wellness event for Ryman and say it was an enjoyable challenge. Greg says to help make it fun, he and of the other residents wore step counters while playing lawn bowls and given that he was on the greens up to five or six times a week he was soon gathering the number of kilometres needed for the challenge. “So (in terms of the WFW challenge) we were finished pretty early.”