Anna Pangbourne, Director of the Fashion & Textile Children’s Trust, recounts her recent fundraising challenge that took her to the peak of Africa’s highest mountain.
Last year, in a moment of madness, I decided I was going to climb Kilimanjaro to raise money the Fashion & Textile Children’s Trust. The last 10 months have been a real rollercoaster and I would never have anticipated how much it took over my life, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
I’m now back, having successfully summited on 17 February! It still doesn’t seem completely real – sometimes I look back and it feels like it was a different person stood at the top of Africa’s highest mountain almost a fortnight ago. I knew it would be a huge challenge but, partially thanks to some pretty tricky weather conditions, it was even tougher than I’d anticipated. But every step of the way, I was spurred on by the support I’ve received from so many brilliant people from day one.
So much has happened since those first days of this amazing adventure, almost a year ago now. My first major climb to Ben Nevis, way back last summer, was an eye opener but nothing compared to the final ascent to Kilimanjaro. The climb to the summit almost didn’t happen after a blizzard hit our camp on the night of the ascent. But after some tense conversations between the guides, we set off at 1am, fitted with our head torches and poles, and headed for Uhuru – the final peak (standing at 5,895m).
There were times when I felt like my legs wouldn’t carry me to the one point on Earth I’d been working towards for so long, but thankfully our close-knit group all helped each other and we made it to the top. To give you a flavour of how hairy it got, we saw three people from our group taken down the mountain by Medevac during our final ascent.
Now that I’m back, I’m just delighted that I managed to achieve what I set out to do and that my brilliant family, friends and colleagues from across the fashion and textiles sector have helped me to surpass my fundraising target of £5,000! Everyone has been so incredibly generous and I’ve now up past the £8,000 mark (hopefully with more to come!) which is more than I could ever have hoped for.
As well as spurring me on to the top of the mountain, everyone’s generosity has inspired me to re-double my efforts to reach and support as many children as possible through FTCT. The money helps with that, as does building awareness of our charity.
So if this has inspired any of you to take on a challenge yourself, I would say just go for it. Take it from someone who’s just got back from their own personal challenge – it can be hard and it may take over your life, but it’s one of the most amazing things you will ever do!