Airline pilot Chris Hadlow has raised thousands of pounds to help disabled and disadvantaged people by taking part in a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa.

Mr Hadlow, of Urchfont, said he found the eight-day trek to the 19,341ft summit a gruelling challenge.

He is a pilot with Tag Aviation, based at Cotswold Airport in Cirencester, and is chief executive of the charity Fly2Help. It uses aviation to change people’s lives, particularly by taking them on Air Smiles Days, in which they are taken on a flight and involved in other exciting activities.

Mr Hadlow, who lives with his wife Dawn, their two children and dog Arthur, was approached to take part in the climb by his friend Stuart Hill.

Teaming up with other friends Stephen Ross and David Key to undertake the challenge, the group flew out to Kenya on January 22 and were driven to the foothills of the mountain.

The first two days were spent trekking through rainforest and then heathland before they reached the start of the climb. Mr Hadlow said: “On the third day we reached the crater of the extinct volcano and it was starkly beautiful.

“Days four and five were spent in acclimatisation climbs until our guide felt we were able to cope with the thin oxygen and freezing temperatures of the summit.”

Although it is close to the Equator, the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro is snow-capped all year round and temperatures there are as low as minus ten degrees Celsius.

On the final day they set out before midnight on the climb to the summit.

Mr Hadlow said: “The higher we got the slower our movements as the air got thinner. We just went on a methodical plod.”

By 6am the group had reached Gilman’s Point, 1,000ft below the summit, where they watched in awe as the sun rose above the peaks.

Mr Hadlow said: “The sunrise was beautiful with clear blue skies above us.”

Two hours later the group had reached the summit. Mr Hadlow said: “There was a mixture of emotions. Not realising how tough it was going to be, the main emotion was one of achievement. I don’t think I want to do Kilimanjaro again, but I’m glad I’ve done it.”

Mr Hadlow has already raised more than £1,600 from the trek but his website page is still open for donations. Visit https://mydonate. Fly2Help supports those with life-limiting illness, disability and chronic deprivation, as well as young carers.

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