Rovers hit the heights

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THEY made it to one of the highest points on the globe and made scores of new friends.

A team of 10 volunteers from Doncaster Rovers including players Mark Wilson, James Coppinger and James O’Connor set off on a trek up the South American Andes mountains to the lost Inca village of Machu Picchu to raise money for the Save the Children’s Fund.

And these are the pictures taken by club media manager Steve Uttley as he chronicled the four-and-a-half day adventure, which all the party suffered altitude sickness at some stage.

They set off from a base camp through temperatures which ranged from -5C in the mornings to 90F when the sun had risen, with a cook preparing meals on the way using a stove carried on the back of a horse.

Many of the trekkers were suffering the effects of altitude by the first day. Among those hit most seriously were James Coppinger and Mark Wilson, who were both at one stage given oxygen for their symptoms, and were fed by glucose tablets because they were so ill during the 4,600m ascent.

Steve, aged 54, completed the climb despite having suffered a heart attack in 1993. He described breathing in the thin air as like trying to breathe through a handkerchief.

But he said the walkers were also able to help children during their trip to Peru, with donations both to a school and an orphanage.

The party chipped in 20 dollars each, to raise 200 dollars to complete the construction of a school library at Camicancha School, and to buy books. They also made donations to an orphanage called Azul Wasi, after meeting up with a woman from Doncaster, Sally Morris, whose family in South Yorkshire runs Bullseye Motor Spares.

Sally now runs a bar called The Real McCoy near the orphanage in Cusco, and arranged for the players to meet the children.

She said: “They cannot believe the players would want to meet them, and that they could ask them questions.”

Mark Wilson: “These kids had very little, but meeting us was a highlight of their week. It makes you realise just how lucky we are.”

Steve said: “The players signed autographs at the school and left them a Rovers shirt. Rovers really are a truly global club now!

“Every member of the team had a different challenge. Paul Fernie had to beat a fear of heights, James Coppinger and Mark Wilson had to beat altitude sickness. I had a heart attack in 1993, and never thought I would be able to do something like this.”

The group is still appealing for sponsors to help them reach their £50,000 sponsorship target. Log onto www.justgiving.com/roversincatrek to donate.