Nicola's Trek to Summit of Mount Kilimanjaro raises £2,500 for charity!

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Charity Heroine Nicola Tilley, ex-Director of climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in February to raise money for The Sandville Self-Help Centre.   We asked her about the experience and whether it has changed her in any way. 

C&C:  Nicola - what a brilliant achievement to have trekked to the very top of the highest mountain in Africa!  What made you decide to undertake this journey - given the potential dangers?  We've read, for example, that every year 10 people die attempting the climb - mainly from altitude sickness - and thousands are evacuated off the mountain.  Indeed more than 50% of all climbers fail to reach the summit. 

NICOLA: I always believe that if another person can do something then so can I,  as long as I work hard enough. So the stats and dangers were never a worry for me. I know I will always set out to achieve whatever I want, as long as I work hard enough.
C&C: Why did you choose the Sandville Self-Help Centre to be the beneficiary of your sponsorship, as opposed to any other charity? 

NICOLA:  This is the most amazing Charity I have ever worked with. It helps so many people with cancer and other mental and physical disabilities.   It has only 3 members of staff and over a 100 volunteers and helps thousands of people every year. It offers a safe and caring environment for people to come together to receive alternative therapies and to simply talk to other people who are going through the same problems as themselves. It offers a place to stay when people are going through cancer treatments and they have no-one else to turn to.

C&C:  Did you do any special training / preparation for the trip? 

NICOLA:  For 6 months I had a personal trainer who basically punished me every week!   I also took lots of long practice walks.  Luckily living in Wales we have lots of mountains to practice on!


C&C:  Can you tell our readers about the experience? For example - how long it took from start to finish; what were the most difficult bits; which were the most rewarding? 

NICOLA:  It was by far the most difficult thing I have ever done. It took 6 days to climb up and 2 days to come down. Walking up to 10 hours a day in boiling heat and then the temperature would drop to -10 at night.   On summit night we started to ascend at midnight in -20 and then walked through until 6:00am the following day. There were no toilet facilities or anywhere to just simply wash your hands. The hardest thing was the altitude -  being unable to breathe was horrendous, and the lack of hygiene meant bad tummies all round! Most rewarding was the people; the local people who acted as our guides were inspiring; they walked with little equipment in freezing conditions but were always happy to help and made sure we had a hot meal every night. It made me really understand what we take for granted and how simple some people's existence is.  

C&C:  Has this Kilimanjaro trek changed you in any way?

NICOLA:  Absolutely!  It's made me see that the only truly important things is life are your health and your loved ones.   Seeing the local people living like they were made me realise how trivial some of my life worries are.

C&C:  How much did you finally raise for your chosen charity? 

NICOLA: £2,500

C&C:  That's a fantastic amount.  Are you planning to do anything else BIG like this in the future?

NICOLA:  I would love to do the Inca Trail, but I could never leave my son for this length of time again.   Saying I missed him doesn't come close to how I felt. So I've told him that as soon as he's 13 he's doing it with me!

C&C: Thank you very much for talking to us Nicola - it's been inspirational to hear how you managed to complete the climb in difficult circumstances  - your determination and courage are phenomenal!  We're glad that we were able to make a donation to the fund.  Good  Luck for the next challenge - whenever it happens!

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