‘Team Kili’ are ready to hit the heights for GWAAC

18 brave fundraisers are hoping to be on top of the world after taking on a gruelling challenge to keep their local air ambulance flying.

After a year of intense training and fundraising the group are boarding a plane on Saturday (February 11th) ready to face the biggest challenge of their life. They will be attempting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, which at 19,710 feet is the tallest freestanding mountain in the world.

Filling in the registration form seems like a distant memory for the team. Now the bags are packed, fundraising is almost completed and playlists compiled to help the summit climb pass quicker. ‘Team Kili’ come from all walks of life and are spread out across the coverage area. But they all have one thing in common – the determination to raise as much money as possible to ensure GWAAC can continue to save lives.

There are James Laverick, Kirsty Holburd, Sam Haden, Gavin Payne and Becky Garland who all work at the Bristol City Centre Marriott. They picked GWAAC as their charity, and have been running, biking, and holding charity balls to raise money.

Long term supporters Mercedes Benz of Bristol are now going even further for the charity, with principle dealer Mike Smith, and staff Romy Phillips and Vanessa Galley climbing Kili. Over the years they have been a fantastic support to the charity.

Becca Hing from Gloucestershire signed up after GWAAC saved her father’s life. Trevor suffered multiple cardiac arrests in the street, but survived thanks to the intervention of the critical care team. Also from Gloucestershire is Stuart Newman, who has always wanted to climb Kilimanjaro and loves a challenge.

Bristol paramedics Matt Robinson, who works for the Hazardous Area Response Team and Jo Markerson, who works in Bristol, decided it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and joined the team.

Sam Winfield, from Bristol, works for Nationwide, another business that supports GWAAC. He was inspired to sign up as somebody he knows may need the service one day.

From North Somerset is Lynn Rees, who wanted to do something to challenge herself to mark her 50th Birthday. And from Bath and North East Somerset are Scotty and Samantha Newton, who signed up because Samantha knows some of the GWAAC charity team and wanted to support them.

And finally GWAAC staff members Emma Carter (Head of Fundraising and Marketing) and Laura Durrant (PR and Media Officer) were so inspired by the work of the crew that they wanted to do something outside of their day jobs to raise money. To give the team the best possible chance of making it to the summit, Dr Helen Wiles will be hiking with them. GWAAC chief executive John Christensen said:

“This is a huge undertaking and I know that a lot of training and preparation has gone into it. I couldn’t do it and I really admire them for taking this challenge on. They will come back with a huge sense of accomplishment and memories to last a lifetime, safe in the knowledge that the money they have raised will help our crew continue to save lives. Good luck!”

The team will be trekking for seven days, and will battle fatigue, extreme weather conditions, and altitude to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro. Last year the Critical Care Team attended 1,735 missions, but despite the vital need for this service they receive no day to day funding from the Government or National Lottery. The money that these plucky adventurers raise will go towards the £2.6 million needed every year to keep the service flying.

So far the team have raised more than £70,000. There is still time to sponsor them: https://www.everydayhero.co.uk/event/Kilimanjaro2017/top_ten For updates on their progress follow GWAAC on Twitter or Facebook – Great Western Air Ambulance Charity.

by Andy Crow