Charity fundraising group Katch says donations have been flooding in since the group began its climb up Kilimanjaro last week.
Katch, or Kilimanjaro Adventure Towards Child-ren’s Hospital, is made up of a group of friends raising money for the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at Bristol Children’s Hospital.
They started fundraising 14 months ago, as a thank you for the unit’s care of Alice Strange, daughter of founder members Nicola and Paul Strange from Cherhill, when she was diagnosed with leuk-aemia. As well as raising money through sponsorship for the trip, they have organised a number of other events, including a barn dance, a quiz night and a sponsored walk.
Eight members of the group began climbing on Thursday and got to the summit at 5.30am on Monday. They are expected to be back in Britain at 6am today.
Mrs Strange, who was the only group member to stay at home, said since the beginning of the trip donations on the group’s JustGiving page had risen and all this money would go directly to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit. Katch has so far collected more than £17,000 on the website and hopes this will go up to £20,000.
Mrs Strange said: “Because it’s intensive care things are expensive – £20,000 would buy a nice piece of machinery. People have realised that the expedition is here and there have been lots of sponsors. People have got to know what we’re doing and they’ve followed us through on our journey.
“We meet at the pub every week and plan events. It’s been a lot of work and it’s nice it has come to the end and they are off on the trip. We plan to go down to meet the guys from the hospital who cared for Alice, and present a cheque.”
The group, whose ages range from 20 to 51, will take four-and-a-half days to climb Kilimanjaro and one-and-a-half days to get back down. Before their departure they listened to a talk from a local doctor who has climbed the mountain, and stocked up on camping equipment and altitude sickness tablets.
They are also carrying a flag from NCE Computer Company, a local business which has supported them throughout the 14 months.
Mrs Strange said: “It’s the altitude really, no-one really knows how that will affect them. They say smokers come out better because their bodies can cope without oxygen, but I’m hoping that they will all make it.
“At the start I was quite sad to be the only one in the group not going but by the end I was quite glad I wasn’t going. It’s quite a challenge.”
To donate money to Katch visit the dedicated page at www.justgiving.com/KATCH