African challenge inspires Flintshire student

Reporter:

Helen Davies

A BUSY student has added climbing the highest mountain in Africa to her list of achievements.

Steph Davies made it to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.

And she had to fit training for the trek alongside an already very hectic schedule.

The 22-year-old from Connah’s Quay juggles studying for an animal management course at Northop College alongside voluntary work at the Clwyd Special Riding Centre and two part-time jobs.

But when a leaflet for the expedition was delivered to the doctor’s surgery where she works, Steph felt she had to take up the challenge.

She said: “My nan had heart attack in the past so there are heart problems in the family. I thought the British Heart Foundation was a good cause.”

Steph didn’t know anyone else on the trip until she met them at the airport, but says they all got on well.

“It was amazing,” she said. “It was the toughest but also the best experience of my life.”

The group reached the top of the inactive volcano in time for sunrise after climbing through the night.

“We stayed there for an hour because the weather was so good.

“The view was amazing; all the colours were breaking through and shining on the glaciers.”

Of the 33 who started out on the walk, 32 reached the top.

Steph added: “There were times when it was hard to breathe and there were points when I thought I couldn’t go on.

“We struggled to speak because we were short of breath.

“Walking to the top in the dark was daunting but probably the best way as we couldn’t see how much further we had left to go.”

Steph and her fellow climbers walked for between five and nine hours a day and spent the night sleeping on the floors of huts.

In preparation for the trek she climbed Snowdon six times and also did several walks along Offa’s Dyke.

She now has a taste for walking and is meeting up with others from the trek later in the year to complete the Three Peaks Challenge – climbing the highest mountains in Wales, Scotland and England within 24 hours.

She will be wearing pyjamas for the walk, which will raise further funds for the British Heart Foundation.

To sponsor Steph go to www.justgiving.com/stephdavies88.

See full story in the Leader

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