Climbers conquer Kilimanjaro to raise money for Zoological Society of East Anglia

ZSEA charity trekkers reach the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

ZSEA charity trekkers reach the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. - Credit: Michael Goodman

A resilient group of charity trekkers from Norfolk and Suffolk battled against altitude sickness and bitterly cold weather to conquer Africa's highest mountain – raising more than £23,000 to help endangered animals.

The 13-strong team undertook the seven-day expedition to climb Mt Kilimanjaro and raise money for the Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), the charitable trust which runs Banham Zoo and Africa Alive and works with conservation projects around the world.

After five tough days of trekking and acclimatisation, the summit bid began at midnight but was beset with plummeting temperatures just before dawn, with powerful gusts of wind and freezing fog coating the climbers and their equipment with ice.

Nevertheless, the team dug deep, with nine reaching the 5,895m (19,341ft) peak after an eight-hour climb.

Michael Kitching, head of fundraising for ZSEA said: 'We are all absolutely delighted the expedition to Kilimanjaro was a success. We know that the mountain is an incredible challenge and for nine of the 13 participants to summit is an excellent achievement, showing steadfast dedication and a true fighting spirit.

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'But the group's achievements go beyond standing on the roof of Africa. As a group, they have so far raised £23,543.30 towards saving some of the world's most endangered wildlife, much of which sits on the plains below the mountain. From snow leopards in Mongolia, to rhinos in Africa, lemurs in Madagascar and our UK-based work at Africa Alive and Banham Zoo, the work that these funds contribute to is absolutely vital.'

Led by Everest veteran Jo Bradshaw, the ZSEA team was drawn from across Norfolk and Suffolk.

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It included animal keeper Frankie Bleasdale and shop supervisor Joel Bessey from Africa Alive, near Lowestoft; training advisor Hannah Neale and her partner, former Royal Anglian soldier Michael Goodman, from Bardwell in Suffolk; marketing director Valerie Watson Brown, from Bridgham, near Thetford; David Blood, an engineering manager from Little Plumstead; fireman Pete Sheedy, from Poringland; grandmothers Vikki Middleton from North Elmham near Dereham, and her friend Jo Bell from nearby Beetley; florist and hairdresser Hayley Talbot, DIY shop workers Julie Davies and Dave Farmer; and EDP reporter Chris Hill.

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