Heather Batey and Jo Robinson recently took on the ginormous challenge of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and raised over £2000 for the Child Brain Injury Trust. Here’s their story, written by Heather:

It all started as a bit of fun between two mums trying to decide how to mark our “big” birthdays. Maybe it was a midlife crisis, but after much discussion and research we decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Both to mark our milestone and to raise money for the Child Brain Injury Trust who provide immense help and support for children (and their families) who have suffered from brain injury. My fellow trekker Jo is a teacher and I am a Neuro Occupational Therapist. We have both worked with children with brain injuries and know very well the impact brain injury has on children, families and communities.

IMG_1085After 6 months of preparation, jabs and getting fit we set off from Newcastle airport at 4am for our 5895m climb.

The day before we started the climb Jo and I visited a local junior school. It was so inspiring to see all of the children smiling even with no facilities and no shoes, queuing up for water from one tap in the dusty playground. The school had a disability section and we were very lucky to have the opportunity to chat to the pupils with learning difficulties and be part of their class. This day set the scene for our Kilimanjaro climb and planted the seed of wanting to help out using our clinical and professional skills.

The climb started the next day. There were seven in the grIMG_1213oup and a number of local porters and guides all helping us to get to the top. The days started with a cup of tea at 6 am in the tent followed by a quick wash at 6.30am then into the mess tent for breakfast at 7am all ready to start climbing! Despite the altitude sickness, no shower and an interesting toilet, we enjoyed the amazing scenery, helpful guides and hilarious company.

IMG_1117After a few days we were into a walking pattern and had climbed up to 3550m…then 3840m…then 4550…through the great Barranco Wall to the Barafu Campsite at 4600m and the base of the summit. On summit night we started our ascent by torchlight and walked up hill for almost 8 hours up to the Uhuru Peak and stopped to witness the amazing sunrise along the way. The guides sang African walking songs all the way to the top to keep us motivated. We felt we wouldn’t have got to the top if it hadn’t been for the fantastic guides, motivation from within the team and copious amounts of jelly babys!

IMG_1228At the end of our trek we gave the porters and guides a number of gifts to aid them in their role as guides and we also gave them two Child Brain Injury Trust t-shirts which the porters were so pleased with.

This experience was so much more of an emotional journey then I expected. The physical challenge was brilliant but it was the cultural experience that has left its mark with both Jo and I and we are hoping to go back next year to volunteer in the disability section and to teach English. So as well as reaching our fundraising target and the top of Africa’s highest peak, we have also made a number of friends in Tanzania and hope to use our skills to help the school children we visited in the coming years. So what started off as a ‘midlife crisis’ has been a totally wonderful experience and I would encourage anyone thinking of a challenge to consider this. You won’t be disappointed!

If you would like to take on a fundraising challenge like Heather and Jo then please click here to visit our fundraising challenges webpage for some inspiration or get in contact with Claire Murray on clairemurray@cbituk.org.