Sunday, 3 March 2024
Sunday, 3 March 2024

Veteran climbs Africa’s tallest mountain and raises over £4k for military charity

An RAF veteran from Oxfordshire has scaled Mount Kilimanjaro and raised £4,245 for Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.

Ian Dewar, 57 and from Witney, travelled to Tanzania to take on Africa’s highest mountain.

Just ten days ago, he met ten complete strangers in a hotel in Moshi at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro who were all set to take on the challenge of their own individual charities.

Ian said:

“Our first job was to empty our bags and spread our clothing and equipment out by the hotel pool so the guide could check we had packed all that we needed to make it to the top. 

“The temperature would range from 32 degrees Celsius at the bottom of the mountain to a possible minus 20 degrees at the top so it was important we were prepared.”

The group set off the following day. It took them five and a half days to reach the summit. Ian added:

“The slower the ascent, the more chance we had of succeeding and not being affected by altitude sickness. We walked around eight hours a day, climbing 1,000 metres but then coming back down 500 metres to acclimatise.

“The final climb to the top was the longest day. We had a two-hour cat nap and then set off at 11pm and climbed for over eight hours in the dark with head torches to reach the top in time for the sunrise. After we had spent time at the top taking photos and looking around, we then walked for three hours down the mountain before stopping.

“The total height of Mount Kilimanjaro is 19,340ft. I was in the RAF for 33 years and have climbed a few mountains, but this was the tallest. One of the groups counted their steps to have been 192,000 from start to finish.

“It was very hard physically. Towards the top, a simple task like putting your sleeping bag back in its cover would leave you completely out of breath.

“We were well looked after and accompanied by a guide and a medic plus a group of porters who went ahead each day to set up camp and prepare the food. 

“I have an amazing sense of achievement to have reached the top, both as part of the team and as an individual. I left with new friends for life; between us, we achieved something great. To have raised this money for Blind Veterans UK is the icing on the cake.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ian and his partner became part of a local volunteer group which provided assistance to those who were isolating. During this time they met blind veteran Norman who is supported by Blind Veterans UK. 

Ian concluded:

“As we got to know Norman, it became apparent that the assistance he had received from Blind Veterans UK since being registered blind in 2013 had made an amazing difference in improving his quality of life.  

“Norman joined the Navy at 16 in 1947 and served for nine years. He then had a 27-year career with the police service. He is now 92 and is my inspiration for taking on this challenge for Blind Veterans UK.

“My partner kept Norman up to date on my progress while I was away and I rang him as soon as I got back. He’s ecstatic and we’ll be taking him out for lunch this weekend to bore him with the pictures.”

Ian is just £600 short of his £5,000 fundraising goal, if you would like to support Ian in reaching his target for Blind Veterans UK, please visit his JustGiving page.

If you are inspired by Ian and would like to take on a challenge for Blind Veterans UK visit the charity’s website: blindveterans.org.uk/fundraise.     

Blind Veterans UK supports thousands of blind veterans across the country but knows there are many thousands more who still need its support to rebuild their lives after sight loss.         

If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces, including National Service, and are now struggling with sight loss, then please get in touch. Call 0800 389 7979 or visit: blindveterans.org.uk/gethelp. 

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