Eight women from Uckfield have completed an eight-day trek to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and raised more than £10,000 for a children’s hospice in the process.
The women, who have been described as “inspirational” by the Chestnut Tree Hospice, covered 38-miles to a heigh of 19,341 feet (5,895m) to complete their challenge.
All eight – Angus Smith, Celine Woods, Carine Roberts, Cathy Dooris, Valerie Williams, Vicky Revill-Whelan, Tammy Traunter and Linda Salter – have taken on challenges in the past but this is their biggest to date.
Lost baggage, sleep deprivation and altitude sickness added to the challenge, but each of them made it to the summit, something they attribute to great team work.
Group leader Angus said: “Our fantastic guides from Team Kilimanjaro asked us at the beginning if we wanted to reach the summit individually or as a team, and there was no question for us that we wanted to get there as a team.
“We walked at the pace of the slowest team member, our guides were continually assessing everyone’s fitness, and when one team member was feeling poorly we ensured she was fit enough to continue before attempting to reach the summit.”
The guides were so impressed with the ladies’ team spirit that they nicknamed them ‘Dada nguvu,’ which translates as ‘strong sisters’.
As well as completing the trek, the team have raised over £10,000 for Chestnut Tree, the children’s hospice for Sussex.
Angus said: “It’s the cherry on top. This is the first time we have chosen one charity to support and fund-raised together and we are amazed at how generous everyone has been. It’s really humbling and made us even more determined to reach the top.”
The group will visit Chestnut Tree House, the charity’s hospice near Worthing, in April, to see just what a difference the money will make to the lives of local children, with life-shortening conditions, and their families.
The charity cares for around 300 children in East and West Sussex and South East Hampshire who have conditions that mean they are unlikely to live to adulthood.
It provides ongoing support and care for the whole family as well as emergency and end of life care when the time comes, both at the hospice and in families’ own homes across the area.
Abi Harley, community fund-raiser at Chestnut Tree, commented: “The ladies are truly inspiring and should be so proud of all they have achieved. To climb a mountain is one thing, but to raise such a phenomenal amount in the process is quite another.
“It costs £6,850 every day to provide all of Chestnut Tree’s care, with less than 7% of running costs coming from central government, meaning the group’s fundraising efforts could provide local families with a much needed break from the round the clock demands of caring for a sick child.”
So what’s next for the group? They all agree that the experience has been a positive one that has helped to bring them closer and allowed them space to be themselves.
“And they all agree that they would like to do something together, to make a difference to their community. As to what that challenge is, the message is very much ‘watch this space’.”
The team’s justgiving page is still open for donations.
If the ladies have inspired you to take on a walking challenge you can start small at Chestnut Tree’s Night to Remember midnight walk.
With a choice of flat five or ten-mile routes and the hilly 15 mile urban trek, all women are invited to take part at midnight on Saturday, May 20, 2017, in Eastbourne.
More information is available at www.nighttoremember.org.uk/cth