Wigan man conquers mountain for a cause close to his heart

Joe Campbell at the summit
Joe Campbell at the summit

A man has scaled Africa’s highest mountain, raising hundreds of pounds for charity in memory of his nan.

Joe Campbell summited Kilimanjaro following an epic six-day climb to raise money and awareness for Wigan and Leigh Hospice.

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The Winstanley 21-year-old climbed more than 19,000 feet in tribute to his nan Maureen Campbell, who died a decade ago after a battle with cancer.

Joe, who works in administration for Stephensons Solicitors, funded the trip himself, paying thousands of pounds to join an adventure company who led the group up and down the mountain safely.

“I was really worried I wouldn’t do it,” he said. “That was my biggest concern. After raising all the money for the hospice I didn’t want to let anyone down. I thought of everyone back home - all of my family, friends and people at work who had supported me.

“It took a whole six days to get up, but then just two to get back down. The altitude is the worst thing.

“Eight of us went up but one guy unfortunately didn’t make it. He got really sick and on the summit day he didn’t show up, he had been sick and had bad headaches because of the altitude. It was quite worrying.”

Having signed up in December, Joe had only seven months to train for his trip - which he took alone.

As part of his regime he travelled around the UK climbing as many high mountains as possible in the lead up to the challenge.

“I had an altitude mask which cuts off your oxygen and makes you feel like you are higher than you actually are,” he added.

“The trouble was Kilimanjaro is so much higher than anything in this country.

“It’s nothing compared to that.

“There are a few routes up but I chose the one that took the longest. There were some people who took the shorter route but as we arrived they were being carried back down from the summit which was a bit scary.”

On the day of the summit, all eight climbers, none of who Joe had met previously, were told to go to sleep at 5pm.

They were woken six hours later to start the summit push from base camp.

Joe said: “I still can’t believe I did it. It’s all really surreal.

“I’m still trying to get my head around it.”

Kilimanjaro, with its three volcanic cones, Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira, is a dormant volcano in Tanzania. Its summit is about 4,900m from its base, and 5,895m above sea level.

After being bitten by the climbing bug, Joe is now looking for his next adventure.

“I want to do more like this,” he said. “I’m thinking perhaps Everest Base Camp next.”

The hospice needs £9,700 every day of the year to continue running all of its services.

Joe said: “The hospice looked after my nan when she had cancer and they were really good so I just wanted to give something back to them.”

Maxine Armstrong, fund-raising and lottery manager at Wigan and Leigh Hospice, said: “This is an amazing achievement in memory of Maureen and Joe should be extremely proud of what he has achieved.

“The fund-raising efforts of people like Joe are vital to ensuring hospice services are here for local families for years to come.”

For more information and to donate visit www.justgiving.com/Joe-Campbell10