The Manx flag at top of Kilimanjaro
A close-knit team of fundraisers from the island have returned from an intense but rewarding journey to the summit of Kilimanjaro in aid of The Children's Centre.
The Tanzanian mountain's Uhuru Peak - the Roof of Africa – is a glacial moonscape, high above the clouds. A 5,895 metre high volcanic crater. To put that into local perspective, If you walk – and it is a lovely walk – from the water's edge in Laxey to the top of the Snaefell, you will have climbed to an altitude of just more than 600 metres.
Despite the tall challenge and nerves of the group, all 26 dug deep enough to reach the top, an achievement they credit to strong team spirit, and the knowledge that they were raising tens of thousands of pounds for charity.
With the support of local guides and porters, the Manx contingent had seven days on the mountain's Machame route, climbing through changing ecosystems and camping under a blanket of stars. All had personal battles with sickness and altitude, and on the final push for the distant summit all had private moments of fatigued doubt.
But as water bottles froze and heads pounded, the team spirit shone lifted everyone to the peak for what were emotional moments.
Safely back down the mountain, participant Peter Duchars reflected: 'I think we all underestimated the effects of the altitude, but individual commitment and the support from the rest of the group ensured we all overcame some pretty brutal conditions to achieve our goal; reaching the summit of a truly awesome and inspiring mountain.'
Fellow trekker Sharon McGregor added that the climb was 'an amazing experience shared with truly inspirational people', while Aishling Creer added that the sense of achievement at reaching the peak is 'hard to put into words'.
Everyone in the team spent up to a year working hard to raise money for The Children's Centre, each committing to raise a minimum of £1,000 that goes directly to the organisation's charitable projects, a huge motivation during those testing moments.
Climber Dave Laurie summed up the sentiment: 'It is one of the toughest challenges I have ever faced. I will never forget this experience and the group of amazing people I shared it with.
'It is also really rewarding to know that our group raised many thousands of pounds for The Children's Centre - a great charity that does some brilliant work for kids and families on the Isle of Man.'
Lee Brooks, representing The Children's Centre on the climb, passed on his congratulations to his fellow climbers.
'It was a trip that none of us will ever forget,' he said. 'The landscape, the sprit and the African hospitality were all special. All of the group can be really proud of themselves for how they supported each other, and The Children's Centre would like to wholeheartedly thank the whole Kilimanjaro 2016 team for their efforts, and the difference they have made to children, young people and families on the Isle of Man, and in each other's lives too.'
The Children's Centre's charitable projects include The Community Farm, Mobex, Play, Thriving Families, Action Songs and Rhymes, and the Saturday Contact Centre.
If this tale of adventure has inspired you, there is the chance to raise money for The Children's Centre by joining the Machu Picchu Challenge, Peru, in October 2017.To find out more contact our fundraising team on 676076 or check out our events at www.thechildrenscentre.org.im.