IN the days when fertility treatment attracted controversy, James Bilson became one of the UK’s first babies to be born using IVF.
After years of trying, his parents David and Jackie, of Rotherham, sought help from a private clinic in Cambridge and, in 1985, their son was conceived.
Due to low success rates, James was considered a medical marvel and was subsequently dubbed Rotherham’s first ‘test-tube baby’.
Being aware of his good fortune as one of the 700 babies born through thanks to the clinic, James - now 27 - has spent much of his adult life supporting good causes.
And this year, the restaurant company IT manager is set to take on his biggest challenge yet by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s highest free-standing mountain.
James is one of 22 people taking part in the trek for Safe@Last, a charity in Dinnington for children who have run away from home.
He said: “I have always known about my parents’ use of treatment and there have been a few celebrations at the clinic for us ‘test-tube babies’ over the years! It was the first time my mum and dad went through the process and rates were much poorer then so I’ve always felt very fortunate.
“I’ve done a few bits for local charities as a way of giving back but this is probably the biggest thing I have done. I usually run but I have started walking training. I’ve had to slow down a bit.
“I know the people who run Safe@Last, and it is a great charity. I jumped at the chance to raise some money. I think this is one of the biggest things they’ve ever done too.”
Each walker is hoping to raise £1,400 sponsorship ahead of October’s challenge.
Safe@Last founder Hilary Massarella, who is also taking part in the 11-day trek, said: “The team are a great bunch, and I believe we can inspire and encourage each other.” Visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/jamesbilson to sponsor James.