TWO Ashington fathers have completed the challenge of a lifetime this week by conquering Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.
Brett Coleman and Scott Fegan decided to raise funds for the life-saving Sussex Air Ambulance helicopter after a neighbour was involved in a road traffic collision in Ashington and was given emergency treatment at the road-side.
She was then flown to a London major trauma centre in just 16 minutes – a journey that could have taken more than an hour by road.
The 18-year-old is now back home and undergoing rehabilitation.
Mr Coleman, 35, has already completed two marathons in two weeks – London and Brighton – but wanted to take on the world’s tallest freestanding mountain, which stands at 19,341ft.
It took the friends six days to complete the climb, despite Mr Coleman suffering from altitude sickness.
He said: “We chose to raise funds for the Air Ambulance because a neighbour was seriously hurt in an accident which resulted in the parents of their child needing a miracle.
“A miracle happened because of the efforts of the Air Ambulance team and the fact that they carry a specialist doctor and critical care paramedic on board.
“This was definitely one of the hardest challenges I’ve ever done and the feeling of getting to the summit at sunrise was out of this world.
“I almost succumbed to altitude sickness a couple of times but all the time my legs were moving I was determined to move them in the right direction – up.
“The sleep deprivation was difficult and when we set off at midnight to attempt the summit I was literally falling asleep while walking.
“Coupled with the lack of oxygen, every few metres was draining my body and I would lean on my walking poles for a few seconds of shut-eye.
“There’s always that little voice in the back of your head reminding you why you are doing it and within our party of 18 people we each had a very personal story to tell and that is why I made it.”
Mr Fegan, 43, said: “It was a fantastic achievement but very hard work. At times I was struggling for breath and my lungs were hurting on the way up, but we both made it to the top.”
The pair have so far raised £9,080 from a number of fundraising events including the Ashington Village Ball and by running the London and Brighton marathons.
They are determined to reach their £10,000 target and can still be sponsored at www.justgiving.com/kili13 or by texting tanz58 £5 or tanz58 £10 to 70070.
The Sussex Air Ambulance first came into existence in 2007 and serves the people who live, work or travel through the counties of East and West Sussex.
The team of doctors and paramedics can arrive at the scene of most emergencies in Sussex within 15 minutes.