Two employees of Clydesdale Bank in Tunbridge Wells have raised more than £7,000 for cerebral palsy charity Scope by tackling Africa’s highest peak, Mt Kilimanjaro.
Mark Lilliott and Ben Jury were part of a 22-strong team that battled altitude sickness during an arduous ascent of the inactive volcano, which at 19,343ft (5,896m) dominates the skyline at the border of Tanzania and Kenya.
The pair, who work at the bank’s Financial Solutions Centre (FSC) on Church Road, had prepared for the trip with endurance training that included running in the Eastbourne Marathon but admitted the climb was even more difficult than they were expecting.
“It was very tough, mainly because of the altitude involved but also because we were walking seven hours a day straight up,” said Mark Lilliott. “The altitude makes everything harder and a lot of the group suffered with sickness and bad headaches.
“It is also an unusual climb because Kilimanjaro is so close to the Equator which meant we set off in tropical conditions of about 35ºC while it was snowing at the top. On our final night before reaching Uhuru, the summit, the temperature was –13ºC but one of the group took a reading and with the wind chill factor it worked out at about –30.”
Mark, 31, said that while the challenge of climbing the iconic peak had been what initially attracted he and Ben, 32, to the project, a different perspective had been provided by meeting with people with experiences of cerebral palsy.
He added: “Once we started fundraising in earnest outside local supermarkets we came into contact with people with direct connections to cerebral palsy and that really made quite a difference to the way we viewed it. It really hit home and made us determined to reach our fundraising target and to get to the top of Kilimanjaro.”
In total, the group raised more than £75,000 for Scope as a result of the nine-day expedition.
Chris Winning, Managing Partner of the Tunbridge Wells FSC, said: “Congratulations to Mark and Ben for climbing Kilimanjaro and for their fundraising efforts, both of which are great achievements. They’ve probably had enough of climbing for the time being so no doubt they’re glad they can take the lift at work rather than having to tackle the stairs.”