Wow! How much the world has changed over 12 weeks with the COVID 19 pandemic.
The Cabbies Do Kilimanjaro team knew it was going to be a tough year, but not this tough.
We had planned four training weekends for the team of fundraising cabbies. The weekends were scheduled to get progressively harder, with each designed to teach the team some basic techniques, including how important it is to put the right kit in your rucksack and team building.
Having climbed Kilimanjaro last year, we learnt how important being part of a team is to an expedition like this. We just managed to get the first training trip to the Peak District in before the world went into lockdown but then we had to quickly change our approach to keep the team interested and focused.
We met over Zoom and discussed finding a way to replace our planned training weekends while staying within the social distancing rules.
We decided that the The Box Hill Hike, a tough eight-mile hike with plenty of steep hills and steps would work well to replicate a day on Kili.
The rules were relaxed enough for us to be able to do this recently, so we arranged a date and kept our fingers crossed.
For some reason I was very anxious, worried about how many would turn up and what sort of fitness and amount of training they had done in the 10 weeks or so since we had last seen them. They had all said they had been keeping the training up, but the proof is in the pudding (or the hills) and as they say “in them there hills there isn’t anywhere to hide”.
So, my wife Jackie and I jumped in the car and drove the 45mins to Box Hill Cafe, butterflies in my stomach all the way.
To my absolute delight 10 team members were waiting there, all like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh, bouncing and raring to go. Filled with renewed enthusiasm I gave them a team talk, it was great to be back and feel the team spirit again.
The hike was tough, as expected and I took a wrong turn at some point taking the team four miles off the route. But our photographer Tim King, got us back onto the route, thank goodness. After a bit of stick from cabbie Lyndsey Lockhart we remained in good spirits and trudged on.
We managed 13.2 miles of tough terrain and I could not have been more pleased with the team.
The group had listened, learnt, and kept their word. Not only did they complete the task, but all displayed a bit of light-hearted banter and good spirit on the way. I am so pleased and proud of them all.
We have a few members who are currently injured but these things happen when you are a middle-aged taxi driver attempting to get ready to climb the world’s highest freestanding mountain.
We wish them a speedy recovery and hope to see even more in our new monthly training walks on Box Hill.
With Tanzanian airspace being reopened, the pandemic being kept under control and great safety measures being put into place our trip to Tanzania in October is looking possible. We really can’t wait to revisit this special place and would totally recommend it as a fantastic holiday destination.
Credit should be given to these people who have already overcome real obstacles and barriers to have the positive determination to take this challenge on to raise money for such a deserving cause as The London Taxi Drivers Charity for Children and a Tanzanian Children’s Community Project.
I am so proud of the commitment being shown by my fellow London Taxi drivers
Well done Team CabbiesDoMeru+Kili2
Keep up the good work
About Cabbies do Kilimanjaro
After successfully raising £18,000 for The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans in 2019 by losing 12 stones in weight, getting fit and climbing Kilimanjaro, two of the original Cabbies Do Kilimanjaro, Daren Parr and John Dillane, have put together a much bigger challenge for 2020.
A group of 30 London Licensed Taxi Drivers, will be attempting to lose 52 stones, get fit, with the support of Be Military Fit and then travel to Tanzania where Daren and John will climb 4,562 metre Mount Meru before being joined by the rest of the cabbies to climb 5,895 metres to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
The Cabbies do Kilimanjaro team is hoping to raise £7,500 for the London Taxi Drivers’ Charity for Children and £2,500 for a children’s community project in Tanzania
Follow their progress by visiting www.cabbiesdokilimanjaro.com
To donate visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/cabbiesdokilimanjaro
About London Taxi Drivers' Charity for Children
The London Taxi Driver’s Charity for Children arranges days out in the UK, for special needs and disadvantaged children and provides funding to support children who need recreational, technology and mobility equipment.
Founded in 1928, the charity is funded totally through donations and supported by an amazing group of volunteer London Taxi Drivers who give up their time to take the children and their carers on day trips.
Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall is Patron.