A team of 37 heroic supporters will today (Saturday) embark on a six day challenge to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, in order to raise vital funds for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance (HIOWAA).
The team have spent the past year fundraising and preparing for the climb and have to date raised over £153,000 for the charity, with funds still coming in.
Community Fundraiser James King, who has led the hugely successful campaign, commented:
“I am incredibly proud of our team, who have worked extremely hard throughout the year, organising fundraisers and taking part in training weekends. They have been an inspiration and have surpassed all expectations”.
At nearly 6,000m, Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest mountain. Amongst those participating in the climb are Paramedic Richard Riley, who suffered life-changing injuries in a road accident in 2013 and has battled his way back to fitness in order to make the climb. Fareham resident Neil Mellor decided to raise money for the Air Ambulance after his friend was air lifted by HIOWAA following a serious Motorcross accident in 2011. Richard and Neil have each raised over £4,000 for HIOWAA.
An Air Traffic Controller at Southampton Airport, Helen Pallant works for NATS and has regular dealings with the Air Ambulance crew. Helen commented:
“I have always been impressed by what an outstanding service the Air Ambulance provides and the professionalism of the crew. I wanted to play my part in helping to keep the Air Ambulance flying”.
Other members of the team include Matthew Davis, from Upton, near Andover, who has undertaken the challenge in order to celebrate the life of his daughter Lily, who was conveyed to Southampton General Hospital by HIOWAA in 2012. Matthew will be climbing Kilimanjaro with Lily’s uncle, Doug Evans. Lily would have been three years old on 1st February 2015, and they see the trek as a great way to celebrate her life and raise awareness for HIOWAA.
HIOWAA Chief Executive Alex Lochrane said:
“It is amazing that this first overseas challenge by the Fundraising team at HIOWAA has been such a great success. As always, the stories behind everyone’s participation are both moving and inspiring and we are hugely grateful for the breath-taking efforts of all the participants who have raised a truly stunning £153,000. On behalf of everyone at HIOWAA, I want to send them my very best wishes for a successful, safe and totally memorable experience”.