A STATION commander who spent nine years working in Coventry has set himself the challenge of reaching Africa’s highest point in memory of his best friend’s daughter.
Richard Stanton, who works in the fire rescue service industry, will join 17 other keen hikers as they aim to scale the dizzy heights of Mount Kilimanjaro.
The 33-year-old has been training for the expedition since January and admits this will be the toughest physical challenge of his life, despite previously completing the London Marathon.
Inspiration to tackle the mountain came about when Richard’s best friend Matthew Hall, and his wife Paula, tragically lost their daughter Georgie to meningitis before her second birthday.
Matthew’s brother Chris made the promise to Georgie he would climb one of the world’s tallest mountains to meet her at the top shortly before she passed away.
And Chris’ promise will become reality when the 18-strong team of hikers set off on Tuesday (October 18).
The group has already raised £79,000 for ‘Georgie’s Gift’ – and plans are in place to raise a further £11,000 as Richard explains to reach £100,000 would be a dream.
The father-of-two said: “My best friend lost his daughter to meningitis when she was very young and his brother Chris made a promise to Georgie when she was in hospital that he would climb the world’s tallest mountain to see her at the top.
“Chris approached me about climbing Kilimanjaro in September 2015 and after some thought we decided to go ahead with the challenge.
“I’d completed the London Marathon before but Kilimanjaro will be by far my toughest challenge.
“I’ve been training since January – and here we are now.”
In preparation for the climb, Richard and his fellow hikers have spent time training in Snowdonia and the Peak District – where the team trekked 50 kilometres across the national park while ‘wild camping’.
Described as a tough walk by Richard, the current station commander at Sutton Coldfield & Erdington Fire Station said the only thing the team hasn’t trained for is altitude, which proves an impossible task.
He said: “Training for altitude is pretty much impossible in the UK, however we’re all prepared physically and mentally – that’s the best we can do.
“There’s a strong success rate for reaching the summit by taking the route we’re using – I work in a physically demanding job but this is on a different level.
“It will be seven tough days of climbing and a long time away from family too which won’t be easy.
“However I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to the challenge, it’s an opportunity to scale one of the world’s tallest mountains with my best mate in memory of his daughter.”
To support Richard and Georgie’s Gift, visit www.georgiesgift.org where information about donating to the cause is available.