TWO fundraisers from Swindon battled the elements and their own bodies to climb Machu Picchu in memory of their much loved wife and sister who died aged 44.

Brothers-in-law Paul Bassett and Brendan O’Neil experienced an earthquake after they landed in Peru to take on the 55km Inca Trail challenge .

They also struggled through constant altitude sickness on the five-day trek to raise over £6,000 for Prospect Hospice where Paul’s wife Claire was looked after.

“This was a challenge I had to do. It meant a lot to me being able to do it with Brendan and in memory of my wife,” said Paul. “To experience an earthquake on the first morning there was surreal, we were sat having breakfast and suddenly everything started to shake – thankfully we were unharmed.

He said:“You walk, eat, sleep and walk again, sometimes up to 11 hours a day. I suffered from altitude sickness, as did a lot of the walkers, but I was determined to complete the journey so that I could sprinkle some of Claire’s ashes there.”

The widower makes sure he takes a piece of his wife’s ashes wherever he visits so that he can scatter them in places that meant a lot to them both.

So far, he has done this in Cyprus, Greece, New York and at the highest point of the South American challenge.

Paul added: “Claire had a great sense of humour, she would have found the name of where we scattered her ashes hilarious - it’s called Dead Women’s Pass.”

For Brendan, who lost a stone climbing Machu Picchu, the camaraderie of the challenge stayed with him for months afterwards. “Everyone was amazing and there are so many people who we still keep in touch with,” he said.

“People comment on the amount of money we raised, but to us it’s a target to pay back the amount it cost the hospice to care for Claire. A challenge like this is about receiving as well as giving. You gain so much self-worth by overcoming challenges and making new friends along the way.”

The pair have raised nearly £20,000 for the hospice since her death including taking part in Zumba classes dressed as superheroes and trekking the Grand Canyon.