Lesley Dolphin prepares for huge charity trek

HER voice is familiar to thousands of people across Suffolk.

But radio presenter Lesley Dolphin is taking a break from the airwaves to take on a mammoth task for charity.

The host of BBC Radio Suffolk's regular afternoon programme is heading out to Tanzania today as she prepares to climb Africa's highest mountain – and raise a hefty sum for the East Anglian Children's Hospices' Treehouse Appeal.

Lesley and her fellow climbers hope to raise �30,000 towards the �3m appeal, which aims to pay for a new children's hospice in Ipswich, catering for terminally youngsters and their families from across Suffolk and North Essex.

Lesley will spend 10 days on the trip in Tanzania and she will be part of a nine-strong team looking to conquer altitude sickness and climb almost 6000m (about 19,600ft) to the summit of Africa's highest mountain.

She says her challenge came out of the blue.

'Beware what happens when a group of friends come round for Sunday lunch!' she said. 'My friend and Ipswich businessman Steve Flory likes a challenge.

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'He has already been to Everest Base Camp and helped build a school in Africa so when he heard about the Treehouse appeal he knew he wanted to help and decided it was time for his next assignment – to climb Kilimanjaro.'

'After some red wine I agreed I would go along as well!'

Lesley has done parachute jumps and abseils in the past and says that now she's reached her 50s she wants to test herself again.

But, as Pakefield man John Turley explained in last week's Journal, climbing Kilimanjaro can be a daunting challenge.

Lesley says she is expecting it to be tough but the motivation of raising money for the hospice will keep her going.

'The Treehouse appeal is something I really want to be part of,' she said. 'I have visited the local hospices caring for adults in Suffolk and know what fantastic work they do I can't believe we don't already have the equivalent for children.

'The EACH staff are amazing but need somewhere that allows them to provide extra support and care.'

To help Lesley and her team reach their �30,000 target, visit: www.justgiving.com/kilimanjaroforthetreehouseappeal

For more information on the Treehouse appeal, go to: www.each.org.uk