“Even though I felt sick, had zero energy and was struggling to put one foot in front of the other, the sense of achievement and enjoyment was huge” – Colin and Rowena climb Mount Kilimanjaro for EACH

An adventurous couple scaled the heights for an epic charity challenge – climbing to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Colin and Rowena Hill tackled altitude sickness and freezing conditions but managed to raise nearly £650 for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH).

The couple even held EACH t-shirts when they reached the summit of the mountain, which is in Tanzania and the highest in Africa, measuring 5,895 metres (19,341 feet).

Colin works for Milestone Infrastructure and EACH is its nominated charity for 2023/24. Staff have already raised more than £2,000 and given their time to volunteer at its Milton hospice.

Colin saw an opportunity to raise even more and he and Rowena booked their trip last November. Their “step into the unknown” lasted seven days, including six nights camping in a tent without electricity or mains water.

“It was a truly amazing, incredible experience, although tougher in places than I could ever have imagined,” said Colin, 56.

“As challenges go, it’s not to be underestimated. Of our group of eight, we all made it to the top but altitude sickness of varying severity affected us all.

“It was extremely cold at the summit, with a wind chill of around minus 20 degrees. People’s hair was freezing across their face, so it was extremely hostile.

“When I was at the summit, I took a few pictures of the sun rising and the glaciers and then it was time to start going down again.

“It’s a lot of effort for a very short amount of time, but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. I’m even glad I suffered, to be honest. If I hadn’t, I’d have felt disappointed.

“I like to push myself and the more challenging something is, the more rewarding I find it.

“So even though I felt sick, had zero energy and was struggling to put one foot in front of the other, the sense of achievement and enjoyment was huge.”

Colin suffered from altitude sickness on day three and summit day.

“Kilimanjaro is nearly 6,000 metres high, so imagine that as a 6km stretch of road and then turn it up on its end,” he said.

“That’s a long way up in the air and far higher than you’d find here or anywhere in Europe. That kind of altitude was an unknown quantity for us and we didn’t know how our bodies would cope.

“Rowena took altitude tablets, got ahead and ‘survived’ better than me. She was ‘in the zone’ and did amazingly. She made the summit in fine form, with limited assistance from the guides, whereas I suffered quite a bit.

“At just over 5,000m, I decided to stop and put my last extra warm layer of trousers and outer coat on. However, as soon as I took my gloves off I lost all feeling in my hands. It was quite scary.

“Even our insulated bottles froze, meaning we were without any liquids for a few hours. We pushed on towards the summit but every step towards the top become increasingly difficult.

“Altitude sickness is a horrible feeling. It gives you a thumping, very intense headache and saps your energy. If it wasn’t for the encouragement and support of the people around me, I don’t think I’d have made the summit.”

Rowena was anxious about the challenge because she has arthritis and has problems with her back.

“I mentally prepare myself for pain,” said the 48-year-old.

“I always think ‘what’s the worst-case scenario?’ I brace myself for that feeling and if it’s any better than that it’s a bonus. That said, there was no guarantee the tablets would work. Six of us took them and four still got ill.

“I was lucky and only got a headache once. Other than that, I didn’t suffer too much. I had enough ibuprofen to sink a ship but didn’t actually use any of it.

“I realised I’d got ahead and tried to stop at the top and wait for Colin. However, our guide wouldn’t let us and said we had to keep moving.

“After I reached the summit, Colin made it a few minutes later and I was able to walk over, give him a big hug and share the moment together.”

Colin and Rowena, who live in Oakley, just north of Bedford, were delighted to raise so much for EACH. The couple are already eyeing up another mountainous challenge at some point in the future.

“We’re deadly serious about taking on something else – we’re just not sure where yet,” said Rowena.

“There are all sorts of places in the world we’d like to discover and we’re quite adventurous. We like hills and mountains so maybe something like the Andes or Rockies or even the Himalayas?

“We certainly have things on our bucket list, but whether we have the time and resources is another matter.”

Colin and Rowena raised £649 – way above their original target of £200. They flew out to Africa on 30th June and began their expedition on 2nd July.

The couple’s fundraising page is still open. To make a donation, head here.

Notes to Editors

“EACH has made us all feel part of an extended family and, thanks to staff and fellow families, we’re not alone with problems. We always leave The Treehouse feeling positive, stronger and thankful.”

  • We care for children and young people with life-threatening conditions across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk, and support their families.
  • We offer families flexibility and control over where they receive their care and support, including where their child dies – at home, in hospital or at one of three hospices at Milton (Cambridge), The Nook (Norfolk) and The Treehouse (Ipswich).
  • Our family-centred approach includes specialist nursing care, symptom management support, short breaks, wellbeing activities, therapies and counselling, all meeting the individual needs of the child, young person and whole family.
  • We are recognised as leaders in our field, with a reputation for excellence and commitment to pioneering development and innovation.
  • We rely on voluntary donations for the majority of our income and this year need to raise £5.8 million from fundraising and £6.5 million in income from our shops. The year before the pandemic we received just 16% of our total income from statutory sources.
  • EACH Royal Patron –Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales.
  • For more information about EACH, including forthcoming events and how you can help raise funds,visit each.org.uk or call our Suffolk fundraisers on 01473 917965.

Keep in touch:


For further information about this release please contact:

Matt Plummer | Media and PR Manager | 07738 328058 | Matt.Plummer@each.org.uk


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