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Lockdown fundraising with Leah

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

What made you initially sign up to the Kilimanjaro challenge?

I had previously taken part on my first solo charity trip a few months before signing up for Kilimanjaro with a company called VoluntEars, where I visited a Deaf school in Nepal with some of the UK D/deaf community to help renovate a classroom and do some teaching. I booked this trip very spontaneously and didn’t tell my loved ones until 2 months before.

I signed up to the challenge after a few, not so nice, changes in my life and wanted to do another solo trip, like the Nepal trip, because I loved the experience so much. I saw the poster for the "Kilimanchesto" team at the Manchester Climbing Centre and thought, that's what I want to do. I am a keen hiker and all-round outdoorsy person myself, so climbing the world's highest freestanding mountain whilst raising money for charity sounded like the perfect trip.

How did you adapt your fundraising during the pandemic?

The local music scene in Manchester/Salford (Michael Webster at Bread Records) had really helped me put together some music events to raise some money. Everyone worked really hard and then the pandemic hit. Music is the one thing I enjoy and thought I could utilise that for my fundraising and so when this was cancelled, I had no idea what to do to raise funds. Slowly but surely the government started to make facemasks the law in shops etc and so I started making facemasks for charity. These were bought by a huge variety of people, including hospital staff and well as the local community and I ended up raising a huge chunk of my money just from facemasks. I was unemployed at the time, after recently graduating, and it was basically a full-time job. I had made well over 300 face masks to fund the trip.

What fundraising opportunities did the postponement provide you with?

As disappointing as the postponements of the trip have been, it has given me more time to fundraise. The guys at Dig Deep have been very supportive by pushing back fundraising deadlines, keeping the costs for the trip the same as originally agreed and just being all-round supportive.

How has being part of a team helped you to overcome the challenges faced?

The Manchester team are an amazing bunch. I have been lucky enough to meet some of the team before the pandemic hit and felt right at home. Our (new) team leader Liam has been very supportive and motivating throughout all the times where the team wanted to give up and has kept us all going.

We have lost a few people along the way, but I have kept in touch with some of those people that have decided not to go ahead with the trip and the team are already looking at ways we can meet up and socialise in the near future.

What are you most looking forward to about the year ahead?

Of course, with the relaxing of restrictions I am looking forward to a bit of normality – it has been a very odd year since I 'graduated' (or should I say left) university in March 2020, but it has come with is positives too.

One of these positives has been having such a good group of people behind me pushing me towards the Kilimanjaro trip, both family, friends and the Manchester team. I have considered giving up a couple of times, but I am now looking forward to climbing the world's tallest freestanding mountain once the pandemic has cleared.

My advice to anyone wanting to take an impromptu charity trip abroad:

Do it! When I booked my first trip in May 2019 to travel to Nepal on my own with a group of people I have never met, it was very out of character for me and it was scary, but it was the best decision I have ever made. I know that Kilimanjaro will be another one of those great off-the-cuff decisions once we get there.

Thank you for chatting to us Leah and for continuing to fundraise throughout multiple lockdowns. We can't wait to help you reach the summit of Kilimanjaro in 2022 (albeit a little later than originally planned!)

The risk to the people of Kenya and the communities that we serve, from COVID-19 is still very real. We are working with local government to best protect the people of Bomet County and your continued fundraising is playing a crucial role in ensuring we can continue to do this.

Want to support our appeal? We have created a Facebook Fundraiser Starter Pack to get you started.

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