Simon Birkby, Sales Administrator at Scotia Homes, submitted Mt. Kilimanjaro in the early hours of Thursday 19th October 2023 in aid of Cancer Research UK.
30th March 2018 saw the death of Simon’s Dad, Howard Birkby, after an all too brief period of some 13-14 months between diagnosis of cancer and him sadly passing. He progressed from an initial expectation of treatment of an ocular melanoma, to this rapidly becoming a removal of his right eye, through unsuccessful immunotherapy treatment, and then to a seemingly unbelievably quick confirmation that there was to be no successful treatment at all.
There was nothing the Birkby family could do for their dad, grandad and father-in-law, and could only be grateful that this didn't impact on his life until later, when he had at least seen his two children grow up, marry, and had met all four grandchildren; although sad for Simon that his dad never heard his youngest James' voice or see him walk properly.
So, as with many others Simon has admired in the past, he decided to try and give something back.
Howard Birkby loved hill-walking and particularly in the Lake District near his home town of Barrow-in-Furness so Simon thought something related would be a fitting tribute and hopefully raise some money.
“Scrambling across Striding Edge to Helvellyn with him when I was far from the size I am now is a memory I will always have - although I was a bit scared then, I still wanted him to be proud - and the same is still true. I did tell him what I was thinking before we had to say goodbye and he loved it, his only regret being that he couldn't come with me, so there's no going back now,” Simon explained.
“I'm well aware that this isn't a Sunday morning stroll - Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain in the world at 5,895 metres (19,341 ft), Everest is less than 3,000 metres higher and there is not much oxygen at the top… For comparison, the highest mountain in the U.K., Ben Nevis, is 1,345 metres (4,413 ft).”
Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano which is the highest freestanding mountain in the world.
“The scale is enormous… Everything about Kili was just bigger than I expected, but in such a wonderful and impressive way.”
11 trekkers, 1 UK mountain leader, 1 UK medic and a team of Tanzanian guides/porters pushing the total group to 50/60.
For Simon’s full 8-day adventure, he burned 15,835 calories, exercised for 1,679 minutes, conquered 196,740 steps and covered a whopping 94.47 miles.
Simon spoke of this gratitude for those already supporting his fundraising efforts: “Thank you all for the charity support you gave from 2019 onwards and I won’t apologise for tugging at your purses/wallets again in the next few weeks - I was thinking of my Dad and so many others cancer has affected as I trekked - I found my way up Kili and science will find a way to beat the big bad C.”
Everyone at Scotia is so proud of Simon’s fundraising efforts and we wish him all the best for his continued efforts in support of Cancer Research UK.