Intrepid Lowestoft man climbs 18,000ft for charity

INTREPID fundraiser John Turley is back at home and putting his feet up – after climbing more than 18,000ft up Africa's highest peak.

Mr Turley, 61, from Pakefield, headed out to Tanzania before Christmas in the hope of scaling mighty Mount Kilimanjaro.

But although he was unable to reach the top of the volcanic peak, he still managed to make it to Gilman's Point – an impressive 5681m (18,638ft) above sea level - and has raised close to �7,000 for the Help for Heroes charity.

'I was advised by the team doctor to call it a day due to my breathing, or lack of it, caused by the thin oxygen,' said Mr Turley, who spent several months getting himself in shape.

'The highest point was a further one-and-a-half hours around the rim and, of course, another one-and-a-half back before descending. The doc advised that he thought that this might be too much for me.

'Those who did make it to the top said that it was tougher than they had been led to believe.'

He added: 'There were 26 of us in our team including a team leader and doctor. Twenty one made it to the highest point, three to Gilman's Point and two didn't climb due to illness.

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'And as a point of interest, former tennis champion Martina Navratilova, who was climbing about the same time as us, had to be evacuated from the mountain due to altitude sickness!'

Mr Turley, a property manager who served in the Army from 1965-76, began his fund-raising for Help for Heroes earlier this year, helped by friends, colleagues and relatives, and supported by Paul Atkins, landlord of his local pub, The Oddfellows.

He has not yet totted up the amount he raised, but expects it to be close to �7,000.

Mr Turley had been warned to expect vast changes in temperatures and a variety of weather conditions during his climb, and that proved to be the case. 'After a sunny start, the weather got progressively worse as we ascended,' he said.

'The night ascent to the top of Kilimanjaro was cold and bleak, but we did manage to see the sun rise above the clouds.

'The last day was a trek to one of the national park's exit gates and the last three hours of it was through a tropical rainforest, where it decided to tropically rain...we were absolutely drenched on arrival.'

He added: 'It was definitely a challenge I am proud to have done, but I don't think I will be looking to do anything similar too soon!'

To support John, donate online at the website 'bmycharity'. It is owned by Help for Heroes and the administration costs are kept to a minimum, meaning every possible penny goes to the charity. Log on at: