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Torbay RNLI volunteers gear up to climb Mount Kilimanjaro

Lifeboats News Release

Eight Torbay RNLI volunteers are preparing to swap their drysuits and yellow wellies for thermals and hiking shoes as they prepare to leave Devon and travel to Tanzania to start their Mount Kilimanjaro climb.

A huge fundraising effort has been ongoing since March last year, with station volunteers taking part in a series of relay challenges, from a sky dive to a 12mile swim and 200 mile bike ride, and the team has raised over £70,000 for Torbay RNLI thanks to the support of the local community.

Now, the culmination of the relay is climbing the highest freestanding mountain in the world. With an average age of 60, the climbers have been training hard and will be relying on teamwork and camaraderie to get to the summit.

Ian ‘Barney’ Barnaby has led the organisation of all six challenges, and is looking forward to setting off:

‘After months of planning we’re finally approaching the moment we’ve all been waiting for and working towards – the climb. We’re under no illusion its going to be easy, but we’ve all put a lot of time and energy into our preparation and are determined to all reach the top of the mountain. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we’re overjoyed to have raised over £70,000 for Torbay RNLI, where we have all volunteered so much of our time for so many years, so that’s a huge motivation for all of us.’

This idea was conceived as a last fundraising ‘hurrah’ before the oldest members of Torbay RNLI’s lifeboat crew retire over the next few years. The eight volunteers climbing Mount Kilimanjaro are: crew members Ian ‘Barney’ Barnaby, Richard Fowler, Roger Good, Simon James, Gary Fletcher, Richard Burden, Lifeboat Operations Manager Nick O’Brien, and Lifeboat Medical Advisor Dr Rob Bromige. Collectively they have an average age of 60 and an incredible 193 years of volunteering experience.

Members of the public are encouraged to come along on Thursday 9 February to give the climbers a warm send off.

Barney continued: ‘We’re fortunate to have both Dartmoor and the south west coast path on our doorstep where the bulk of our training has taken place. We've been going out in groups when we can but that's not always been possible due to work and on call commitments for the boat. We had an excellent weekend camping on Dartmoor and got some arduous training in, the weather was what you would expect on the Moor so our kit got properly 'road tested'!

‘Obviously the one thing we can't train for is the altitude and it is inevitable that we will all get altitude sickness but hopefully only mildly. It will also be very cold on the summit, -15 to -20. The challenge whilst hard physically will be as tough, if not tougher, mentally. Summit night is best described as brutal - 1300 metres straight up, which is about the height of Ben Nevis! I'm sure through teamwork, resilience and shear mindedness we will help each other make it to the summit.’

The climbers are due to start their ascent on Sunday 12 February, with the aim to summit in the early hours of Sunday 19 February. They will returning to Torbay on Thursday 22 February. The volunteers hope to hold a number of talks in the local community to share an insight into their experiences, as well as an event to thank their key sponsors.

Barney continues: ‘We’d like to thank everyone who has supported us so far, from all our business sponsors, to everyone who’s donated whatever they could afford - it has been incredible to see how the community has got behind us. Everyone who has donated will be on that mountain with us, and in our tough times, it’ll be that overwhelming support that will keep us going. We will give it our all to get to the summit and fly our flag on Mount Kilimanjaro.’

For more information and to donate you can visit the fundraising page

Torbay RNLI will also be posting regular updates on their Facebook page as the climb gets underway.

The event’s lead sponsor is Interline, a Torbay based builders merchant who service the south west of England and have contributed significantly towards preparatory logistical and fundraising costs. Helly Hansen has also made a significant contribution towards the specialist mountain-climbing clothing needed.

Notes to editors

Photos - attached you’ll find some images of the eight climbers, credited to Nigel Millard, and comments from each Kilimanjaro climber, for your use.

Video -

RNLI media contacts

For more information contact Niall Blatcher, volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer at Torbay RNLI, on 07734 114777 or [email protected] or Emma Haines, RNLI Regional Media Officer, on 07786 668847 or [email protected]

Nigel Millard

The eight Kilimanjaro climbers in their RNLI kit aboard the lifeboat

Nigel Millard

The climbers ashore in their Helly Hansen climbing kit

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The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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