John aims for peak fitness in mountain challenge
THE snow and cold winds buffeting the east coast this week may have most of us wishing we were somewhere far warmer.
But one Pakefield man is preparing to take on both sub-zero temperatures and searing heat within the space of a week, as he treks more than 19,000 ft to the top of Africa's highest mountain for a cause very close to his heart.
John Turley was due to fly out to Tanzania yesterday to begin his final preparations for his climb up Mount Kilimanjaro.
Tomorrow he starts his ascent of the volcanic peak, hoping to raise thousands of pounds for Help for Heroes, which works to support and care for servicemen and women who have been wounded in past and current conflicts.
Mr Turley, 61, served in the Army from 1965-76 and, with both his parents having served during the second world war, and many of his friends having also been in the services, he said he was keen to do what he could to help the charity.
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'I started raising funds at the beginning of the year when I decided to do 'my bit' for the lads and lasses doing theirs,' he said. 'The landlord of my local pub in Pakefield, The Oddfellows, has relatives who have recently served and relatives who are still serving in the Army, one of whom was recently wounded whilst serving in Afghanistan, so I'm keen to do what I can to help.'
Mr Turley, a property manager, been training for his climb by testing himself in Snowdonia, Scafell Pike, and the Peak District.
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He is also a member of Bannatynes gym in Lowestoft and has been getting in shape there. 'I've also done walks along the coast and up and down the Lowestoft Scores. Unfortunately, Suffolk does not lend itself to climbing/trekking training!' he said.
As his trip is self-funded, Mr Turley is not looking for sponsorship but he hopes his challenge will raise awareness of Help for Heroes' work and prompt people to make donations. With the help of friends, colleagues and relatives, and the support of The Oddfellows' landlord, Paul Atkins, �3,006 has already been raised. But he hopes to double that with his climb.
As well as the physical challenge of climing 19,341 ft (5,895m) to the top, Mr Turley will have to contend with a vast change in temperatures.
It will be about 30C or higher at the foot of the mountain, and around -20C when he reaches the summit.
'I'm looking forward to it but with a bit of trepidation,' he said. 'My youngest son recently climbed Kilimanjaro in aid of the British Heart foundation and has said that it was the hardest thing he has done in his life – and he's aged 30.
'The altitude sickness can be a problem and if that prevents me completing the climb, then I'll know there's little I could have done to stop that happening. But I just hope that I'm fit enough – I don't want to let everyone down.'
To support John Turley, you can by 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: www.bmycharity.com