14 June 2007
On 25th January this year, Bembridge resident and GKN Aerospace employee Peter Swallow completed his trek to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro as part of the ‘Macmillan Kilimanjaro Hiking Challenge’.
This is a demanding trek that takes people to extreme altitude at the top of the highest free standing mountain in the world. Pete climbed to over 19,000 feet above sea level in a gruelling 5 day, dawn to dusk trek through tropical jungle, open moorland and the lunar landscape of the Alpine desert.
After four days of walking, only 23 of the original 26 strong group were deemed fit enough to attempt the final day’s trek, 4,000 feet up to the mountain’s summit at 19,300 feet. Of that group, only 12 people reached the top some seven hours later.
Pete comments:” We set out at midnight after only 3 hours of sleep to walk to the summit on the last day’s trek. It was pitch black, freezing cold and every step taken was ‘heel to toe’, following the walker in front. It is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
“At the summit, it was a case of taking 10 steps and stopping to catch breath and then move on again, it took over an hour to do the last ¾ mile.
“It was put into perspective three days later when we flew back to Nairobi. The aircraft’s captain announced that we would be flying at 18,000 feet and I realised that only days earlier we had been walking well above that height, at 19,300 feet!”
Pete’s efforts have raised over £8000 for Macmillan Cancer Support. He took part in the Challenge because of the tremendous support Macmillan nurses gave his family when they looked after his father. All the funds raised by Peter’s walk will be used to support the Isle of Wight Appeal, which aims to raise £140,000 to put into place two cancer nurse specialists. Both posts will be based at St Mary’s Hospital in Newport and will offer people living with cancer on the Isle of Wight vital medical advice and emotional support.
Peter’s employers, GKN Aerospace have supported his fundraising, as have many of his colleagues on the Island and around the world. His local Farm Shop in Bembridge has not only sponsored him, but also donated funds raised from its delivery service and encouraged it’s customers to sponsor him. Local aircraft manufacturer Britten-Norman, where Peter’s father worked, has also sponsored him.
Pete concludes: “I was determined to do as much as I possibly could to help fund Macmillan, both nationally and our local nurses. The walk was an incredible, life enhancing experience – but the generosity I have experienced from individuals and organisations alike, has been equally moving. I would like to thank everyone who has helped and supported me. The only question for me now is ‘What next?!’”