A medical director has completed an “incredibly tough” 80km desert trek to raise funds for his charity.

Doctor Qamar Abbas, 53, walked uphill for five days as he journeyed across the Jordan Rift Valley from Amman to the ancient city of Petra, walking an average of 16.2km a day in over 30-degree heat.

The challenge, completed on October 7, raised £6,810 for St Clare Hospice which is enough to fund a 10-day stay at the inpatient unit.

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Mr Abbas has worked at the unit as a doctor since it first opened in 2000 and said the funding is sorely needed following the “unprecedented challenge” of Covid.

The medic, from Chelmsford, said: “It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life – hot, tiring, with lots of ascents and sand and dust to deal with.

“It was five days of strenuous walking, with emotional ups and downs, but I met some amazing people who were very supportive and saw some of the most breathtaking scenes this earth offers.

Epping Forest Guardian: Final day/reaching Petra. Picture: St Clare HospiceFinal day/reaching Petra. Picture: St Clare Hospice (Image: St Clare Hospice)

“There was no shade so you had to walk in the full sun, and every day it got to around 32 degrees. We slept in the desert in tents each night, and it was frightening to hear hyenas and wild dogs fighting right beside us.”

He said the passionate hospice staff are “determined” to keep seeing patients and help the hospice thrive despite limited fundraising opportunities over lockdown forcing staff to “do things differently”.

Mr Abbas added: “For 22 years, I have been a part of St Clare Hospice. I have developed in my career and as a person. I have worked with some amazing people.

Epping Forest Guardian: Camping under the stars. Picture: St Clare HospiceCamping under the stars. Picture: St Clare Hospice (Image: St Clare Hospice)

“All of us have one goal in mind. How can we achieve good final days, weeks, or months for our patients?

“But all of this is not easy. It requires funding and support.”

St Clare Hospice is a charity which provides free palliative care in West Essex and East Hertfordshire and costs more than £5 million to run with limited NHS funding.

Epping Forest Guardian: Reaching the monastery in Petra. Picture: St Clare HospiceReaching the monastery in Petra. Picture: St Clare Hospice (Image: St Clare Hospice)