December 7 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, September 21, 2013
A Suffolk student has realised an adventurous ambition to conquer Africa’s highest mountain in the name of charity.
Fiona Birch, 19, from Sweffling, near Framlingham, climbed the daunting 5,895m summit of Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for improved access to clean water, sanitation and renewable energy in East Africa.
The former Framlingham College pupil, who is currently studying Bioscience at Exeter University, was drawn to the challenge by a love of trekking and a desire to visit the continent.
She said: “Previous treks had ignited my interest, and when I saw a poster at university advertising the Kilimanjaro climb, I thought it was a great opportunity.”
Miss Birch successfully raised £3,000 to take part in the climb, organised by UK charity Dig Deep, which helps communities in Kenya drill wells, harvest rainwater and access renewable technologies.
As a group, the climbers raised more than £75,000, which is being spent on a clean water project for a school in a remote rural Kenyan community.
Describing the moment she scaled the world’s highest free-standing mountain, Miss Birch said: “For some of us it was a really emotional moment. The overwhelming happiness and relief after the culmination of many months of training, fundraising and saving was apparent on our faces.
“Once we had spent 30 minutes on top, our guides were keen to get moving. They know only too well that humans are not adapted to live at such altitudes - the summit has only 50% of the oxygen at sea level.
“As we started to make our way down we crossed paths with other members of the group on their way up and offered encouragement and congratulations.
“This was a once in a lifetime experience that I feel so lucky to have been part of. The people I met and the places I visited will stay with me forever.”