South Yorkshire charity team hit heights with mountain challenge

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AN ARMY of gallant fundraisers have completed a gruelling six-day challenge to reach the top of the world’s highest freestanding mountain.

The 22-strong South Yorkshire team braved biting winds, freezing temperatures and high altitudes to reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro for charity.

The challenge raised vital funds for Safe@Last, a Rotherham-based charity which offers a lifeline to young people at risk of homelessness across the area.

Staff, volunteers and friends of the organisation of all ages – from early twenties to over 70 – endured basic living conditions in Safe@Last’s biggest stunt to date.

Leading the group was Hilary Massarella, founder of the charity, who walked alongside other trustees.

Other volunteers included James Bilson, 22, Rotherham’s first ‘test-tube baby’.

On the final leg of their adventure, the group had to rest through the day before setting off from the camp at midnight.

They finally reached the ice-capped peak, which stands 5,895m above sea level, in the early hours of the morning.

So far, the group’s online fundraising page has collected £100 in donations, but it is hoped this figure will increase now the challenge has been completed.

Each climber also raised individual sponsorship which will be added to the total.

Clare Sherratt, for Safe@Last, said: “They all got to the top, but we think there were five who didn’t make it to the highest peak due to severe altitude sickness.

“They were only half an hour away from the summit itself though, so they still did it in our eyes.

“Some of them found it tough because as the climb gets higher, it gets harder. We’re very proud of them.

“We had a few text messages from them as they went along the way and then after they got to the top and they’re all in good spirits.”

Dan Dean, chairman of trustees for the charity, said: “The efforts of these heroes and all their supporters will make this event the biggest and most successful fundraiser SAFE@LAST has had.”

All of the proceeds from the challenge will go towards the charity’s work giving support to children who have run away from home by finding alternative accommodation, advice and help.

n To sponsor the team, call Safe@Last on 01909 566977.