Got that "Back to school" feeling? Here's some inspiration for you

Sue, one of our loyal customers has made spectacular achievement - we're so proud of her, we thought we'd brag about it!   Here's her story:It all began 14 months ago when Ben said he was going to climb Kilimanjaro, after he had already done several marathons, Machu Piccu and the Wild China Wall and I piped up' Well if you are doing it so am I' and that was where it all began!!

Ben had his first challenge and that was to get me fit and trek ready. We already enjoyed walking regularly, however climbing to 19,341ft was a whole new adventure. I had read so many stories about how difficult this was going to be, the horrors of altitude and that made you descend immediately as it can be deadly and only 80% actually make it to the top, however my mind was set and I was confident I could do this.

I work for Midcounties Co-operative in the Travel division and our new Charity Partner for the Society was Women's Aid-until violence against women and children has stopped, so I decided I would do the trek and raise money for this worthwhile cause.

So we began with walking more and more. After work, most weekends and we even took our walking boots on holiday to Spain. Climbing up hills was all part of the training. With a back pack and lunch off we would go for hours and hours. To breathe while climbing up hill without panting was a skill I needed to learn, and Ben kept me climbing up and up until I could master this! I knew this would help me summiting Kili as oxygen was not abundant!. A weekend away in the Lake District, Shropshire and Snowdonia to find higher mountains was our mission. I also trained every morning before going to work. I wanted to be as fit as I could possibly be. With about 8 weeks to go every morning I put a 10kg pack on my back and walked up and down the stairs, and on alternate mornings I used a step box to build up my leg strength. Ben was a great trainer and kept me focused.

The Kit Bag and its only 15kg for a weeks camping too!!

Clothes for temperatures of +30 and below -10, pills and plasters, however more importantly and I knew that I needed to contact Jersey Beauty to seek their help with samples of my favourite products, as i did not have room for my bottles of creams and potions to protect my face from the extreme conditions. I have used JB for years and I emailed them to support my charity climb and how the samples would so help my face and also with my luggage allowance! Greg and JB came up trumps and he was a star. He sent me samples of sun block, conditioning body wash, skin smoothing cream, hydrating masque and barrier creams all for protecting my 48years looking 68yrs old!!!

17th July and off we fly to Kilimanjaro from Birmingham.

The following day and we are picked up by the African Walking Company and off we went to start our 7 day trek. How excited were we. The day had finally come after months and months of training and we were at the start of the most amazing journey ahead of us. With Henry our chief guide,a cook, and 12 other porters to carry our bags and tents we set off. We were give the 4 Golden Rules to get to the Summit.

1.Have the right equipment 2.Go Pole Pole which means Slowly Slowly 3.Drink at least 4/5 litres of water daily 4.PMA- Positive Mental Attitude

It took us 5 days to get to base camp. I have to say that the daily JB pamper treats made my days on the mountain special. After walking for 4-5hrs in the heat and the dust and at the end of the day to apply a refreshing hydrating masque to my skin was heaven and my skin drank it all up!!! Love Dermalogica. We were so lucky that we did not suffer from altitude sickness which was our biggest fear. We felt fit and had been able to eat and sleep during the climb to this point. I knew that now this was going to be down to sheer strength and will power to get me to the top and the imagined picture of me and Ben on the top with my Women's Aid flag, smiling.


At 11pm we were woken up with tea and porridge and got dressed with all our layers to venture up to Uhuru Peak at 5,895mtrs. With head torches and with lots of other trekkers we began the 7hr climb. It was very tough, as you we were climbing over rocks and walking in soft scree and you sank into it, so it was tiring. As you looked back down the mountain all you could see was a trail of lights from the head torches all hoping to get to the top. Quite magical I remember. We went slowly very slowly as it was so steep. You just keep following your guide's feet and focusing on getting to the top. As its dark you can't see the top so you just keep putting one foot in front of other. We stopped for water and an energy bar a couple of times and eventually after 5hrs you arrive at Gilman's Point at sunrise. I sat and cried as I could not believe I had come this far. Henry gave us hot tea and we had some energy snacks to continue to the top. To watch the sunrise on the highest freestanding mountain in the world was very emotional and spectacular. After a short break we set of again around the crater rim which was stunning with the glacier behind and then at 8:00am we got to the peak!!! We touched the post and out came the charity flag for our photos. We did it. We did it.

All the training and planning had paid off and we were so ecstatic. Can't stay long as oxygen levels are only 50% so we began our 3hr journey back to base camp and then a further 3hr trek to our final camp site. We had been walking for 13hrs and covered 21km but we did not care as achieving the Peak was our challenge and we did. Back at base we had a Kilimanjaro beer to celebrate in our tent. Well what other drink would we want, and then it was off to bed at 630pm for a well earned rest as we still had another 6hrs and 17km the next day to walk to the main gate and to collect our gold certificate.

It was an amazing journey and I will never forget what I achieved climbing the highest mountain and the raising £6,744 for our charity.

Set aside the "back to school" and "back to work" summer's over feeling.  Take a little inspiration from Sue - anything is possible if you set your mind to it with passion and determination.  Well done Sue!