Scaling new heights for good cause

mandy and Hugh Gibson
mandy and Hugh Gibson
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It was second time lucky for hospital ward clerk, Mandy Gibson, who reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro after being defeated by altitude sickness on her first attempt.

Mandy, who lives in Layton and works at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, climbed 19,341ft to the summit of Africa’s highest mountain with her husband Hugh.

They decided to tackle the feat in aid of the Blue Skies Hospitals Fund, with all money raised going to the stroke unit where Mandy works.

Mandy first attempted to climb Kilimanjaro 14 years ago when she was working for a hospital in Ayrshire, in Scotland.

Unfortunately, she suffered severe altitude sickness and couldn’t reach the summit.

But on her second attempt last month, Mandy successfully completed the gruelling climb with Hugh.

The pair did the seven-day challenge accompanied by two guides, a cook and eight porters, and raised more than £400.

Mandy said: “We wanted to do it for ourselves and to raise some money for the stroke unit while doing it.

“It was gruelling, but I got to the top this time. It was very emotional and exciting to reach the summit.

“I was very proud of Hugh. The climb hit him hard and at one point he felt as if he couldn’t go any further. 
“He did make it to the summit but it was pretty intense. The fact he got up there was impressive.

“We were both relieved we had made it – but the climb down was agony on the knees.

“We could never have made it without the support of the wonderful team from Chief’s Tours Moshi.”

Mandy’s training regime to prepare for the climb consisted of walking to and from work, walking approximately five miles each day around the hospital site as part of her job and walking in her local park.

She said: “My favourite bit was scrambling on the Barranco Wall.

“It was a real highlight for me because I love scrambling. The adrenaline was pumping.

“We started off in the rainforest and climbed up to an alpine desert. The landscape was tremendous.

“We were privileged to see the glaciers as the ice is melting and it probably won’t be there in years to come.”

Mandy has now set her sights on climbing to the Everest base camp.

She said her colleagues on the Stroke Unit were all very proud of what she achieved and she had great support from co-workers with fundraising activities.

“I’m glad I had the sponsors, as the thought of them kept me going,” she added.

Ann Hedley, interim head of fundraising for Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, said: “I really do appreciate what Mandy and Hugh have been through, as I myself suffered altitude sickness on the very same route.

“It’s a phenomenal achievement and to commemorate that by supporting the charity and in particular the stroke unit is just selfless.

“They should be very proud of themselves and I know our patients and staff will benefit greatly from all their efforts.”