A 73-year-old climbing enthusiast is set to reach new heights – after pledging to climb Mount Kenya to raise vital funds for charity.
Graham Strudwick from Twickenham, London, will climb the 17,057ft African mountain, starting on February 18th, in aid of the Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST) – a charity which changes lives through adventure and exploration at sea.
An avid sailor, Graham, an off-shore Yacht Master and chair of the JST London branch, made the decision to fundraise for the global sailing charity after partaking in 17 of its voyages over the last 21 years. Trips that have totalled a remarkable 15,700 miles and 30 weeks at sea.
Graham said: “My first voyage on Tenacious was from Edinburgh to London and I keep coming back because of the people involved with the charity.
“What I like about the JST is that it is extremely clear about the role it plays in people’s lives. It’s a charity which welcomes participants of all abilities, and some of my favourite memories have been of witnessing the positive changes I’ve seen in people over the years. Their self-belief after experiencing time on Tenacious, is wonderful to see.”
In between voyages, Graham found a love of rock climbing at the age of 68 to help maintain his physical health and wellbeing. It was from this that the idea of climbing a mountain for the charity began to appeal to him.
Once the decision had been made, choosing where to achieve this incredible feat came naturally to Graham. After growing up in Africa as a child, and regularly visiting for work in the years that followed, Graham’s heart remained in the continent that he still refers to as “home”, and Mount Kenya became the obvious choice.
As a boy of 11, and living in the foothills of the mountain, Graham would often spend his time looking up at the African peak’s majestic height, full of wonderment and awe. And as an adult, he has often revisited Kenya for work and has often taken his family to share the country’s rich landscapes and wildlife.
“Africa gets in your blood,” he added. “I was born there and then lived there for nine years of my life before the age of 14. The music, the people, the smell, everything is just wonderful.”
Training for the mountain climb has already started, with Graham and his climbing partner, Roger, hitting the gym regularly as well as challenging themselves on the climbing wall twice a week, completing 3–4-hour sessions at a time.
“We are really trying to push ourselves to improve not only our strength, but also our stamina. When we attempt the real ascent, we will be tackling the challenging alpine rock climbing using ropes and other climbing gear for the best part of two days, apart from just one night’s sleep, where we will be sleeping in a bivi just below the summit of the lower peak Nelion.”
Hoping to raise £3,000 for the Jubilee Sailing Trust, Graham will spend five days trekking and acclimatising in Africa before starting the alpine rock climb. There are two peaks to conquer, and he hopes to be at the top of the highest peak by February 26th.
Money raised from the climb will go directly to the sailing charity’s ‘Pulling Together’ Appeal, a rolling appeal designed to help maintain a funding flow for Tenacious’ maintenance, repairs and improvements.
Patrick Fleming, CEO of the Jubilee Sailing Trust, said: “We are in awe of the grit and determination that Graham is showing as he gets ready to conquer the second highest mountain in Africa. It is incredibly inspirational.
“Without people like Graham, the Jubilee Sailing Trust could not be where it is today and for that we are extremely grateful. We would like to wish Graham and Roger the very best of luck for their climb and look forward to hearing all about it.”
To donate to Graham, please visit https://jubileesailingtrust.enthuse.com/pf/graham-strudwick