A father is attempting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise awareness and money to combat the terminal illness his son suffers from.
Andrew Cudlip, 55, will walk 60km over six days, starting on February 23, for Niemann-Pick Disease Group UK, a charity that has helped his family throughout his son Ben’s illness.
Mr Cudlip said: “I am looking forward to it but I feel apprehensive because I really want to reach the top. It is going to be a hard task but Ben will keep me going.”
Ben, 22, was diagnosed with Niemann-Pick type c, a rare and deadly neurodegenerative childhood disease, aged 13 after suffering several seizures.
His condition has deteriorated over the years and he is now confined to a wheelchair. He has limited speech and has a feeding tube for liquids, although he can still eat solid food.
When he was diagnosed, his family were put in contact with Niemann-Pick Disease Group UK who sent a nurse from Manchester to support them.
The group holds family conferences with experts talking about new research, and puts people in contact with families whose children have the disease.
“If it wasn’t for them, there would be no group or support for families like us.
“We can ring any time with any concerns and they will answer every question we have. I would like to raise money to continue the group’s success.”
Mr Cudlip, who lives on a canal boat in Bradford on Avon, sees Ben – who lives with his mother Lyn Cudlip in Highfield Road, Bradford on Avon – every fortnight.
“I am certain Ben is a lot more aware than people think. I have told him of my challenge and hope he is proud of me.”
Mr Cudlip has also completed the Three Peaks Challenge, climbing Snow-don, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis, in 2011 and was involved in a sponsored walk for Naomi House Hospice Care, Winchester, which provides respite for the family.
“I just carried on walking after that and when I saw an article in a magazine on Mount Kilimanjaro I wanted to give myself a challenge.
“It was an incentive to give up my 40-a-day smoking habit, which I have done since I started training 10 months ago.”
Mr Cudlip will be walking with guides who provide expert information on conditions, weather, elevation, and even the local environment and wildlife.
To make a donation, log on to www.justgiving.com/andrew-cudlip1