Fearless Thornbury woman, 23, climbs Mount Kilimanjaro
SHE ENDURED sub-zero temperatures, sleep deprivation and physical pain.
Yet, a young carer from Thornbury did not allow fatigue or brutal weather conditions to get in the way of her dream of ascending Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak.
The odds were not in Emily Fitzgerald's favour as the 23-year-old embarked on the gruelling climb of the 5,895 metre high summit.
The young carer, from Castle Street, landed in Nairobi, Kenya, on Sunday, September 22, the day the Newgate Mall siege began, leaving her relatives filled with dread over her safety.
This did not faze her, however, so determined was she to finish or indeed commence what she had come to do.
"I had wanted to climb Kilimanjaro for many years," she told the Gazette. "My mum and my friend were the most worried but I knew I was going to be fine. I was a bit worried but mostly I was just thinking about getting there."
The rest of the trip was not without strain or challenges as it tested her endurance and stamina.
The freezing temperatures, difficulties in dealing with the altitude and physical exertion took their toll on the sixth and final day of the ascent.
"It was exhausting and sometimes you just didn't sleep all night,” she said. “When I got to the summit I had not slept for 36 hours.
"It was minus 16. It was so difficult. But I just thought about all the work that I had put into it beforehand and I had been doing it for five days. I kept thinking 'Come on Emily, you can do it'."
"I cried at the top," she added.
Emily tackled the climb in aid of the Samaritans and has raised £700 so far. As a carer, working with people in their homes, she has become painfully aware of the burden of loneliness, a problem the charity has set out to stamp out.
"From my work with elderly people I have experienced the prevalence of loneliness and it's not just among the elderly," she said. "I was thinking about what I could do and what charities could help people who are lonely."
Emily, who returned to the UK on October 1, is hoping to collect £1,000 to further the Samaritans' work.
To make a donation visit www.justgiving.com/emilyfrancesfitzgeraldkili
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