Corton teacher Jemma Mantripp to climb Mount Kilimanjaro

MANY teaching staff will be spending part of their half-term week dealing with mountains of school marking.

But Jemma Mantripp will face a mountain of a very different kind next week –when she scales mighty Mount Kilimanjaro.

Jemma, 23, a learning support assistant from Corton, is flying out today to Tanzania with her friend Emma Shreeve ahead of their ascent of Africa's highest mountain, having spent the past two months getting in shape for the week-long trek.

She is using the climb to raise thousands of pounds for Corton Primary School where she works, while Emma, who is 22 and also from Corton, is looking to do the same on behalf of the Palliative Care East appeal at the James Paget University Hospital.

'I decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro as a life ambition,' said Jemma. 'I want to push myself as a personal challenge and to raise money for Corton Primary which is in desperate need of new equipment from books and computers to sports equipment as funding for these sorts of things is becoming less and less. Hopefully lots of new equipment will support children's learning and make lessons more enjoyable.

'I also want to inspire the children by showing them that anything's achievable if you set your mind to it and work hard. This term's topic in our Personal Social and Health Education (PHSE) is 'going for goals' so it is linked to the curriculum too!'

Jemma and Emma, who works at the school as a lunchtime assistant, face a daunting task in their quest to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro, which stands 5,895m (19,341ft) above sea level. Temperatures at the foot of the mountain can be 30degC or higher, while those at the summit are often -10degC or lower. As well as the physical effort, altitude sickness affects many climbers. 'I can't wait for the adventure of a lifetime. I'm excited but also nervous,' said Jemma. 'I have been going to the gym regularly for the last two months and going on very long walks at the weekends all around the east coast to prepare.'

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Staff and pupils at the school have been getting behind Jemma, including the children in the early years class who she works with.

Vickie Cunnane, the school head, said: 'It is such an incredible task Jemma is undertaking. She has support from all the staff, pupils and parents. We wish her well and have utmost faith in her. It is so courageous and we can't thank her enough. Good luck Jemma!'

Jemma has so far raised �1,800 and is hoping to top �2,500.

To sponsor Jemma, ring Corton Primary on 01502 730596 or visit: