Friday 15 March 2013

Fifteen RSPCA inspectors – including one from the North East – have trekked up Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania – the highest free-standing mountain in the world – to raise money for the animal welfare charity.


An amazing 13 of them finished the trek, but the trip ended in disappointment when two of the team had to be brought down from the mountain early, ending their hopes of reaching the summit.


Animal collection officer Steve Smith – who works in Leicestershire – felt unwell due to altitude sickness and gastroenteritis which caused complications as he suffers from diabetes. He was taken off the mountain at almost 4,000m and taken to Moshi hospital. Steve was then flown by emergency ambulance to a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya. He was then able to fly home on Tuesday 5 March, a couple of days later than planned.


Inspector Gemma Cooper – who works in Wales – developed altitude sickness just below the summit and had to come down early but was also able to return safe and well to the UK.


The team’s mammoth journey used one of the most difficult and less well-trodden routes, the Machame route, to ascend the 19,341ft high mountain.  It took seven days for the party to reach the highest point, Uhuru peak, climbing for approximately eight hours each day.


Actor and presenter Brian Blessed, himself a keen and accomplished climber said: ”The greatest danger in life is not taking the adventure, Kilimanjaro is a tough ask, the highest mountain in Africa and one of seven summits around the world.


“We’re the guardians of this planet and animals suffer more and more and need more and more care. So what these people did is nothing short of miraculous. They were tested to the limit, they have my upmost admiration.”


The group raised an amazing team total of £67,000 with half of the monies raised going towards animal welfare in the regions where the inspectors are based and the other half into the inspectors’ fund to directly help with their frontline work.


The trek came at a time when the RSPCA was dealing with the most trying financial situation it has ever faced so the amazing amount of money raised will be vital in helping us to continue our animal welfare work.


RSPCA inspector Jaqui Miller, who is the local inspector for South Tyneside and Washington, took part in the trek, and said: “It was an amazing experience and I felt immensely proud to be part of this RSPCA team because together we are making a difference to the lives of animals. If you feel inspired to make a difference too, please consider taking on a challenge to raise funds for the RSPCA. I promise it will change your life forever.


“And if you feel less adventurous, please donate, because only with your support can we continue our daily quest to help the animals who really need us. We are still raising money even now we’re home, so please go to to donate.”


For more information on the trek please visit