Harlow man climbs Mt Kilimanjaro

Charity / Fri 9th Nov 2018 pm30 04:03pm

ON Tuesday 16th October, a son from Harlow embarked on a trek to climb Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro, in memory of his mother and to raise vital funding for St Clare Hospice, who cared for her during December 2016.

Daniel Mackay (40, from Harlow) completed the renowned Northern Circuit to Uhuru peak on Mount Kilimanjaro, starting on Tuesday 16th October 2018. Ascending to 5,895m above sea level over the course of the 9-day trek, Dan climbed 65km over 6 days to Uhuru peak, and then descended for 21km over 3 days.

Dan was inspired to take on this African adventure in aid of St Clare Hospice after the charity cared for his mother during December 2016. Commenting on the care his mother and family received from St Clare, Dan said: “After a very, very bravely fought battle against an illness that plagued her for many years, my mum Barbara passed away at St Clare Hospice in December 2016. Although it was such a sad time, St Clare made it all as easy as it could be. The staff, the care, and the environment all made the experience bearable during what was such a difficult couple of days. From the first moment we stepped in, we were made to feel like St Clare was our home from home. I personally will be eternally thankful to St Clare for everything.”

Explaining why he chose to take on Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of the hospice, Dan said: “It’s a big event in your life, when a loved one dies, and it’s a really sad time. It’s hard to explain, but I just feel a strong connection to St Clare. Knowing that it’s largely funded by donations has just made our whole family want to give back, to say thank you to the people who helped us and to ensure that others are able to access the support we had.”

Upon the success of his Kilimanjaro climb, Dan said: “The whole trip was a very strange mix of emotions for me, to be honest. I was very excited to be traveling alone to a continent I had never visited before, but at the same time I was very conscious of the challenge I had in front of me and the expectations of all those back at home who were supporting me. When coupled with the obvious emotions I had attached to my Mum, this all became a huge melting pot of many different feelings!”

“On average, we were walking for around six hours or so a day over a mix of terrain, some of it very interesting and some of it difficult to negotiate! On ‘summit day,’ we woke at 10pm and started hiking in the pitch black. The small rainy season that usually arrives in November had decided to turn up a little early for us, so along with strong winds 50 to 60mph gusts, we also had ice crystals being blown in our faces and an expected wind chill at the summit of around minus 24C! Those hours I spent marching through the darkness in the cold were without a doubt the strangest of my life so far.”

“I spent a lot of time inside my own mind, thinking about so many things. I thought about my mum an awful lot. I thought about how proud she would be of me, doing something like this, and how pleased she would be about the amount of good that the money I raised would do for the others who depend on the hospice. There were times when I felt like the trek to the summit was never ending, but then I’d focus on home, my family, my friends, and of course the reason I was doing it: my mum and St Clare. It was these things that gave me the extra strength to persevere and lift my spirits back up!”

“When we reached the summit, I almost couldn’t believe it! It took a good while for it to finally sink in before I composed myself enough to get some pictures in my St Clare t-shirt! My Dad gave me a little something to put at the top of the mountain for Mum, and I also took something with me, too. I carried them all the way to the top and they are buried in a little spot about 10ft away from the summit. So, in a way, Mum made it to the top of that mountain with me and part her will always be there!”

“For the past 18 months this trip has more or less been my life, I made some good friends, had an awesome adventure, made my Mum, my family and my friends proud and more importantly raised a lot of money for an amazing, caring, charity that will forever hold a special place in my heart. These memories will stay with me for the rest of my life and I would like to thank all the people who have helped and supported me along the way, especially my Dad who has helped me in so many ways that I can’t even begin to start explaining how much of a hero he is to me.”

So far, Dan has collected more than £2,200 in sponsorship money for the West Essex and East Herts charity, with vital funding still coming in until his fundraising page closes on 1st December. To congratulate Dan on his challenge and make a donation to St Clare Hospice, please visit his fundraising page at: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/DanielMackay2

For more information on Dan’s Kilimanjaro trek, please visit his Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/kilidan4stclare

If you would like to take on a challenge in aid of St Clare Hospice, please contact St Clare’s Challenges and Events Fundraiser, Emma Broadbent, on 01279 773754 or email [email protected]

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