Newquay's Rebecca Challis scales Mount Kilimanjaro for Cornwall's Air Ambulance appeal
A NEWQUAY woman has helped to raise thousands of pounds for Cornwall Air Ambulance – by climbing the world's highest freestanding mountain.
Rebecca Challis has returned from the adventure of a lifetime having climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of the vital emergency charity.
The Newquay Tretherras Academy teacher was part of a 31-strong team of fundraisers that set about reaching the summit of the mountain last month.
Rebecca said the experience had been life-changing.
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"To reach the top was epic," she said. "Getting to the top of the highest freestanding mountain in the world was amazing. It was the hardest thing I have ever done but the sense of achievement was overwhelming – and making it with the air ambulance team added to the feeling."
The team left Cornwall on September 11 before embarking on a seven-day trek through Tanzania to the summit. Collectively, they have raised more than £70,000.
Rebecca said some of the expedition had been tough and the trip opened her eyes to the hardships experienced in Tanzania.
"The toughest part of the trip was summit night, the last hour really hit me; I was walking with no energy and had nausea," she said.
"The other part of the trip I found hard was seeing the poverty in Tanzania and the hardships that our porters went through.
"My friends spurred me on when things got tough. They were incredible. The whole of Team Kili was amazing and I think it was that bond that got me through it."
She added that reaching the summit had a special significance.
"Being from Newquay, obviously loads of my friends are surfers," she said. "One of them was airlifted from the beach by the air ambulance. So that, and the fact that I'm a geography teacher and climbing Kilimanjaro was a dream, made this trip essential."
The expedition was organised by Cornwall Air Ambulance fundraising co-ordinator Tom Matthews. He said: "When we came up with the idea of climbing Kilimanjaro we didn't know if we could organise it, let alone if anyone would join us.
"We have been overwhelmed by the support and commitment that the trekkers and their families have shown. A huge thank you must go to everyone who has sponsored and supported one of the team.
"The group really has developed special bonds and some of the reasons that people got involved, like Rebecca's story, are really touching.
"Everyone has been asking what will we do next. Well, If you've been inspired by this amazing team we are already looking for people to join us as we head to Machu Picchu in autumn 2014.
"If you want the adventure of a lifetime join us at cornwallairambulancetrust.org/ peru."