Caroline Gallagher is really proud of her brother’s work helping disabled people in third world countries.
She is so proud, she and a group of close friends have taken on the challenge of a lifetime in a bid to help boost his vital charitable work.
Her brother, orthopaedic surgeon Steve Mannion – dubbed “Super Steve” – set up Feet First Worldwide in 2003, to help prevent and correct club foot in countries like Malawi, Ethopia and Cambodia.
The condition, now regularly and easily treated in the UK, can cause extreme problems and limitations for those born with it in the Third World, restricting their ability to work and having a major impact on quality of life.
But Mr Mannion can treat babies with club foot relatively quickly, inexpensively and easily using a special technique known as the Ponsetti method. This usually eliminates the need for painful and expensive surgery.
He and his team also teach surgeons and medics in developing countries how to perform treatments. And they help older children and adults who have suffered with the problem all their lives.
Now Caroline, from Singleton, is hoping to help her brother’s efforts by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro next month as part of a team of eight.
She will be joined by her husband Bob, Joanne Monteiro and Maria Foulds, as well as Ed Monteiro, Martin Deaves, Regina Coulon and Steve himself. Regina is raising money for a cancer charity – a cause very close to her heart for family reasons.
Caroline, a mum-of-two, said: “The idea came from our friend Ed Monteiro, who is a local dentist, and who spent the first 14 years of his life in East Africa, attending boarding school in Tanzania. He always wanted to climb Kilimanjaro and vowed one day he would return to do so.
“He wanted to give something back to the country which gave him so many diverse childhood memories.
“We talked about it and my husband Bob and I both wanted to do it too and other friends also came on board.
“We are raising money for Feet First, because they all know Steve or know of his work with the charity and Regina is raising money for a cause close to her heart too.”
The team has already been doing training – walking and climbing in the Lakes, as well as hitting the gym, to build leg and core strength.
The team will trek through the night on the final, eighth day of walking, to reach the summit – 5895m high – at sunrise.
They are hoping to raise £10,000 for Feet First and each team member is funding their own trip, so 100 per cent of funds raised will go to the charity.
Caroline added: “I am really proud of Steve and all the work he does. It’s quite amazing, he is so busy, but he manages to devote unpaid time and energy to helping others in this way.
“The work Feet First does really makes a huge difference to the quality of life for a lot of people. I am feeling excited about the trip, but slightly apprehensive.
“Altitude sickness is one issue which can stop you going to the top and you can’t really prepare for it – it doesn’t matter how fit you are.
“And if you catch a bug, that can also cause problems. So we are trying to keep as fit as we can and healthy, taking vitamin supplements and eating healthily.
“It will be a once-in-a-lifetime trip and to know we are helping a good cause makes it even better.”
To sponsor the team, click www.justgiving.com/teamkili2014
To find out more about Steve’s charity, hit www.feetfirstworldwide.com