Synopsis: Sixty climbers set off from Heathrow Airport at the end of January for what was to be a life changing experience.
Director and Fundraiser for Destiny of a Child, Annie Martin, masterminded a charity climb of Mount Kilimanjaro - one of the world's highest freestanding mountains at 5,896 meters - in February this year. Annie was very ably assisted by a dedicated organizing committee of volunteers in the UK as well as supporters worldwide and on the ground in Tanzania.
The project took nearly two years to organize, as Annie explains: "We had amazing support from family and friends who found some ingenious ways of fundraising to cover the cost of the trip as well as raising sponsorship money"
Sixty climbers set off from Heathrow Airport at the end of January for what was to be a life changing experience. Annie's husband John was one of the climbers taking part in the seven day ascent and here he describes the awesome challenge: "Some days we climbed over 1,000 meters and so the physical effort was considerable. By day four, we had already lost five climbers to stomach bugs and altitude sickness, including one helicopter evacuation and two assisted descents with oxygen.
"The final ascent involved leaving the tents at midnight in temperatures of minus 15C and climbing very slowly 1,200 meters through the night to the summit. The camaraderie was exceptional and everyone encouraged each other on. The sunrise over the plains at 6.30am was huge, beautiful and very welcome. We finally reached the famous sign at Uhuru peak after circling the crater at about 8.00am with relief and quite a few tears.
"Although it was at times very tough, the experience was also very rewarding both in terms of the success of the fundraising and in a personal and social sense."
Overall the climb raised close to £200,000 and Destiny of a Child were also able to help one of the local AIDs charities, ACE Africa as well as helping profoundly deaf children in need of a cochlear implant in the UK through the Ear Foundation and through Generation Cochlee which assists parents of implanted children in France.
This exceptional donation to the Ear Foundation will allow the organization to fund setting up a web based education training service for parents and medical professionals over the next two years, Chief Executive Sue Archbold explains: "The Ear Foundation receives no Government funding and thanks to the support from Destiny of a Child over the years, we have been able to grow into the organization we are today."
"The advent of the Internet means we now have a new global reach through our website which receives around 2,500 hits a day from people around the world - interestingly, visitors from China and Russia are the most common after the UK.
"NHS cutbacks are leading to less training opportunities and as we face this financially challenging environment, it is more important than ever for parents and professionals to be able to access the information they need to help in the aftercare of children receiving cochlear implants. This new tranche of funding will allow us to provide information which can be downloaded in bite sized pieces at different stages of a child's progress. We can't thank Annie and her team enough for their generosity and hard work, which allows us to continue our life-changing work."
Annie Martin was inspired to set up Destiny of a Child in 2003 when her Godson Francois , now 18 years old and about to go to university, received a cochlear implant.
You can read more about Destiny of a Child at www.destinyofachild.com and ACE-Tanzania at www.ace-africa.org