Miscellaneous news


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David's triumphal return

Local resident, David Brooks, climbs Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for Helen & Douglas Hospice for children and young adults. By South Leigh Mountaineering Correspondent. Photos © David Brooks.

Blinding torrential rain, altitude sickness, hyperthermia, ecstasy, agony, pride, tears and exhilaration seem to sum up Davids assault on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania between 10th -20th October.

Kilimanjaro is high. It is 3.66 miles straight up vertically, and he raised 6,712 for children and young adults with terminal illnesses at the Helen & Douglas House hospice in the process. The whole team of 12 raised over 45,000!

But, after a years training and preparation, the party was gutted when they had to turn back within touching distance of the highest peak. Nature at its cruellest brewed up a blinding blizzard that engulfed the summit from nowhere, and the guides had to lead them through the deep snow and back down to safety. There was no time to wait for the weather to clear before the flight home.

As far as I am concerned, trekking thousands of feet up that mountain, and in those conditions, is good enough for me, never mind David and his friends having raised all that money for the kids and young adults at Helen & Douglas House.
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Q: Why did you do it, David?

Our family had a tough year in 2014 /15 and it was not good for me either. I was pretty down and as a bloke with autism, the future did not look very good. Then, as I was walking home from work, I saw the poster advertising the expedition outside the hospice and I thought, 'You know what?, I'm going to see if I can do it because those kids and young adults are worse off than me'. That was the start of it. Plus, I want to meet people from other countries and see what they do and see where they live.
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Q: How tough was it?

If I'm honest, there were times I wondered if I would make it with the rain and the cold. But we were a team and my friends, Adam and Tom, were especially supportive of me. Come to think of it, I supported them too. We all helped each other, girls and boys, that was a really good bit of it. But around Camp 4 at 4,000 meters, one person had to go back down with altitude sickness. We all felt dizzy for a while from 2,500 metres.

Q: How many days were you climbing?

We reached the final bit of it before the summit after seven days. Camps 1 and 2 were through the foothills, but we had rain like you have never seen. We were trekking through the dense jungle and the rain was deafening. Even the monkeys and birds stopped squawking and were hiding. We were soaked for two days in sodden boots.
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Q: What made you go on?

At Camp 3 we were cold, wet and exhausted already and I wondered if I'd make it. That evening the porters gave us letters from home and I sat and read mine from my parents. They said that they were so proud of me and what I was doing for the kids and young adults at Helen & Douglas House that I burst into tears. That was the moment I knew I would reach the top. We were all in tears that night, even the amazing African porters.

Q: You mentioned the views...

One night I crawled out of my tent at Camp 6 to go to the loo, and was amazed at the sight. At 15,000 feet and I could look down over thousands of mountain peaks in the dark. There were tiny lights miles below shining in the town we had set off from days before. I'll never forget that.
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Q: How tough was it?

If I'm honest, there were times I wondered if I would make it with the rain and the cold. But we were a team and my friends, Adam and Tom, were especially supportive of me. Come to think of it, I supported them too. We all helped each other, girls and boys, that was a really good bit of it. But around Camp 4 at 4,000 meters, one person had to go back down with altitude sickness. We all felt dizzy for a while from 2,500 metres.

Q: How many days were you climbing?

We reached the final bit of it before the summit after seven days. Camps 1 and 2 were through the foothills, but we had rain like you have never seen. We were trekking through the dense jungle and the rain was deafening. Even the monkeys and birds stopped squawking and were hiding. We were soaked for two days in sodden boots.
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Q: So, what has been the greatest reward for you?

After seeing it and climbing up it for days, the thrill of it was to be actually standing there, looking at the top of the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. Me, David, from South Leigh. It was pretty amazing. And we were miles above the clouds. That was amazing too. Plus, the birds and monkeys in the jungle. But the best were the African porters. They will be friends for ever. I am a Facebook friend with two of them now. Oh, and another important bit of it - there was the music from Queen legend, Freddie Mercury, coming out of Tom's rucksack as we climbed. That was pretty amazing too.

Q: Would you do it again?

Yes! Yes! Yes! I want to stand on the very top. And I want to climb with those amazing porters again. But I want to do lots of other things too. I hope to scuba dive in Mozambique next year.

Q: Finally, what was the best bit?

The Tanzanian people. The porters. My friends. My parents. And everyone who made it possible and gave money. Thank you to everyone who helped in any way. That was the point of it. Because it was for those kids who aren't as lucky as me, and who will never see Mount Kilimanjaro.
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South Leigh & High Cogges Toads on Roads Patrol

Save the toads from being squashed! Calling for volunteers to help amphibians safely cross the road during breeding season next spring.

Please contact Rachel Murphy:
rachelrmurphy@hotmail.com / 07980913822, for details or look at Froglife.org

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Martin Collett recognised for services to the community

Congratulations to Martin Collett who was awarded a Special Certificate of Recognition by Witney’s Mayor, Jeanette Baker on Friday, 20th March 2015 at a civic reception held in Langdale Hall.
Martin was nominated for the award for his services to the community of South Leigh. Thank you Martin for all you do.