Could you imagine hiking up 19,000 feet to stand on the top of a mountain that is visible from a plane? That is exactly what a group of fundraisers did to raise money for the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity. Battling altitude sickness, coldness, fatigue and a snow storm they reached the top of Mount Kilimanjaro on the sixth day of their expedition, and in doing so raised a total of £78,000 for the life-saving charity.
The team of 19, who are spread across Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, Gloucestershire, and North Somerset signed up to the challenge a year ago, and have been training and fundraising ever since. Their seven day trek started on February 13th and they reached the summit shortly after sunrise on February 25th. GWAAC’s Head of Fundraising and Marketing, Emma Carter was one of the team. She said:
“During the past seven days I have had some of the best and worst experiences of my life. Physically it was tiring, especially summit night, which was the hardest thing I have ever done. It was also mentally challenging, and we had to remain strong and focused to ensure we made it. Standing on the roof of Africa was amazing, a real once in a lifetime experience. Knowing that we had raised £78,000 for a charity that is so close to my heart was the icing on the cake.”
Kilimanjaro is the world’s tallest free-standing mountain, and rises 5,895 metres (19,341 ft) above sea level. The first recorded ascent to the summit was by Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller in 1889. The money that the team raised will help GWAAC to continue to provide top quality pre-hospital care to people who are seriously ill or injured. Each life-saving mission costs on average £2,000, and it costs £50 just to lift the helicopter off the ground. The charity also pay for specialised medical equipment and drugs.
The charity receives no day to day funding from the Government or National Lottery, and relies on the public to raise the £2.6 million needed every year to stay operational. GWAAC Chief Executive John Christensen said:
“I am in awe of every single member of the team, what a fantastic achievement! Reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro is inspiring enough, but raising such a fantastic amount of money makes it a double achievement. Because of them more people who are seriously ill or injured will receive the help they desperately need. So thank you very much to every single member of Team Kili.”
Has this story inspired you? Why not sign up to GWAAC’s next challenge event, and take on the Great Wall of China in 2018?