A gruelling 10-day trek up one of the world’s highest mountains, beset by altitude sickness and gastroenteritis, would have most people saying ‘Never again!’. Not so Carol Eland, from Carlisle, who can’t wait to pull on her hiking boots for another challenge.
Carol – who is a member of the pastoral care team at Workington Sixth Form Centre – said: “I have never done anything like this before, but it was an ‘awesome’ experience, in the true sense of the word.”
Carol was part of the first all-women ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in March, so far raising more than £3,300 for leading UK children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation in memory of her mother, who died last year.
Carol said: “I made some pretty life-changing decisions in 2012 and wanted to do something big to mark the occasion – so I signed up for this trek. Although I have lived in Carlisle for 26 years and had often been out walking around the Lake District, I had never tackled any of the serious hills until I decided last August to take on this challenge.”
She added: “The Kilimanjaro trip has inspired me to do more walking; we all found that the experience really stripped us bare of society’s expectations and demands and made us think about the real priorities in our lives.”
The women trekkers – from across England, Jersey, Australia and Eastern Europe – are planning a summer reunion and Carol is already looking ahead to another sponsored walking challenge in 2014. She said: “I might return to Kili, this time knowing what to expect, or I may look to somewhere completely different. My trek was completely self-funded so I will have to start saving in preparation.”
Fully equipped, with support from the Cotswold Outdoor store in Carlisle, Carol faced everything the mountain had to throw at her. As well as altitude sickness and gastroenteritis, the group experienced a spectacular thunder and lightning storm above cloud level and finished the ascent in snow. Carol said: “Kilimanjaro hadn’t seen fresh snowfall for several years, according to our guides. But the night before we summited there was a blizzard which deposited six inches of the white stuff.”
Carol set herself a fundraising target of £2,000 when she signed up to the challenge – and is delighted that sponsorship currently stands at £3,370. She will add this to the £1,311 she donated to Newlife Foundation during 2012.
Carol said: “Before my mum died, she was adamant that money in lieu of flowers at her funeral should be used to help disabled children. Newlife Foundation is a UK-wide charity, regularly helping families of disabled and terminally ill children in Cumbria through its Nurse Helpline, equipment grants, timely loans of specialist equipment for children receiving end of life care and investment in vital medical research.”
Newlife has awarded 38 equipment grants totalling £44,900 for children in Cumbria, providing everything from wheelchairs, buggies and specialist beds to portable hoists, sensory and communication equipment. For full details of Newlife’s range of services, go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk or contact the Nurse Helpline on freephone 0800 902 0095.
If you would like to help Carol support Newlife, go to her Just Giving site: www.justgiving.com/caroleland. Or you can text donations of between £1 and £10 – e.g. elan99£5 – to 70070.
Pictured: Carol during the trek.