Updated: Mar 7
What was your favourite part of being a team leader and do you have any advice to pass on to our current Team Leaders?
My favourite part of being a team leader is probably tied between the team leader training weekend which was so much fun and so motivating to kick off the whole experience, and then getting to see the whole team together when you all arrived in Tanzania is just the culmination of a year of hard work.
The best piece of advice I think that I can give is to start recruiting early and to ask everyone you can wherever you can. It may feel unnatural pitching to everyone you meet but you will find a lot of people you wouldn’t otherwise have asked that will be the best teammates and fundraisers! Obviously when we are able, organising group fundraisers can be a great way to not only raise funds but also bond as a team (My top tip is to organise a themed pub quiz for students, we ran a Harry Potter quiz and raised over £600 in one night!)
As a Team Leader you visited the projects in Kenya before your climb, can you tell us what that was like and how it felt to be there after your year of fundraising?
The project visit was an incredibly grounding and inspiring experience. Speaking directly with the communities that you were trying to help really brought home how much your fundraising helps and means to them. I especially enjoyed getting to meet the Kenyan Dig Deep staff; getting to hear about how everything works on the ground, about the complexities of juggling cultural taboos within complex local settings whilst trying to implement their work was incredible. Whether it was about menstrual health, sanitation training, or building new water systems, the team were so passionate that it just made you want to get involved! Summiting Kilimanjaro was obviously a highlight of the trip but gaining this insight is something I probably cherish more.
We know that reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro is a once in a lifetime experience. Did you have a favourite memory from the mountain itself?
I think it has to be the down time that stick out to me the most from the mountain. When everyone is eating together after a hard days climb, or playing cards before going to bed for an early start, those are the moments I remember the most and definitely made the challenging parts of the climb worth it. I know that I came down from the mountain with a whole new group of friends that had all gone through the same incredible experience together. On summit night, before the top, which is the hardest part of the climb, everyone is doing everything they can to get the whole team up to the summit and you know it’s because we have all bonded so much over the last few days that we can’t bear to see someone not make it. This is part of the reason everyone cried when we reached the top I think (Happy tears)!
How has the overall experience changed you or benefitted you since leaving University?
The whole experience of being a team leader and especially going on the project visit inspired me to pursue a master’s degree in international development, which I am currently part-way through. I have just started discussions with the university about starting a PhD in Development Practice and Policy as well, so it was a defining moment in setting my sights on what I wanted to do in the future. I think doing something that I find so rewarding to work towards, that makes a difference is one of the greatest takeaways from the experience. In practical terms, it was undoubtedly one of the reasons why I secured a graduate role after university, and ultimately was accepted onto my master course. Not just for having completed the challenge but all of the skills I gained along the way, team leadership, resilience, perseverance and just pursuing your passion.
Do you have any words of advice for our teams who will embark on reaching the Roof of Africa in 2022?
The last year and a half need no explanation, so I feel that these words don’t need saying but…ENJOY IT. Savour every minute of the experience; whenever it gets really hard remember how you overcame it and remember all the amazing times with the new friends you will make, because I guarantee it will be over before you know it and you will want to do it all over again! Fundraising can be a really hard task, especially over the last year, but just remember the difference that you will be making to people’s lives, people that you may never get to meet but will be forever grateful for your hard work. (Also we got to swim with wild dolphins on the travel afterwards which was one of the best things ever!)
Thankyou for coming back and chatting with us Dan. It is lovely to hear about your reflections on your climb and your advice is invaluable.
Or if you would like to feature in our 'Confessions of a Fundraiser' series then get in touch by dropping us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org)