After months of fund-raising, a quartet of siblings are finally setting off this weekend to scale unprecedented heights for charity.
As featured in the Mail in recent months, Jen Low, secretary-treasurer of golf’s Leven Links Joint Committee, and her sisters, Liz Mackay, Kath Murray and Steph Nicol, are heading for Tanzania on Saturday to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, to raise money for Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Scotland.
“It’s all very exciting and very real now.Jen Low
At 5895 metres – over four times the height of Ben Nevis – Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa and also the world’s highest freestanding peak.
Jen and her sisters have raised over £22,000 so far – contributing to a total of around £140,000 raised by the entire participating group before the climb has even started.
The 28 climbers will be on a trip lasting a total of 10 days, with the trek taking six days of back-to-back hiking, including 14-16 hours of trekking on the summit day.
During that time, the group will have to deal with sub-zero temperatures and very thin air, not to mention the campsite’s infamous long drop toilets.
With the majority of the group having been personally affected by MND, it’s going to be an emotional journey.
Jen and her siblings decided they wanted to help the charity after the death three years ago from motor neurone disease of their Aunt Ellie, who was 63, and had been diagnosed only 18 months earlier.
The ladies were also inspired by their cousin Beccy, who, in 2013, cycled 2500 miles in 30 days around the country on behalf of MND Scotland and the MND Association.
MND Scotland is the only charity in Scotland providing care and information for people affected by motor neurone disease as well as providing funding for research.
A lengthy period of training and preparation is almost over for Jen and her sisters, as they head for Tanzania and their charity ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro.
The ladies completed their final training session on Ben Nevis – eight hours of fitness instruction and kit testing in pouring rain.
“It’s actually given me a lot of confidence,” said Jen.
“It’s all very exciting and very real now. This time last year, it seemed such a long way off.
“I feel like I’m getting in a bit of a panic at the enormity of it all, but I just keep telling myself it will be okay!”
Jen added: “I can’t believe how much support people have given us, coming to our events and buying raffle tickets.”
Gemma Bradley who is Communications Officer with MND Scotland and will be taking part in the climb, added: “Having met on several occasions for training treks and, most recently, our final briefing, the team has bonded amazingly well and will be on hand to help each other through the tough times - whether that is with some words of encouragement, a song, or by offering out the essential ‘taste of home’ in the form of their favourite sweets.
“We’ve also been assured we will get to know each other inside out and will feel like family by the end of the trip.”