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James’s Kilimanjaro Challenge

6th July 2024

James’s son Ralph developed meningitis at 12 weeks old and fortunately made a full recovery, although he’s still under a consultant with six monthly checks. Now James aims to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa’s highest mountain, in October to raise vital funds and awareness for Meningitis Now. James shares his story here.

James Kilimanjaro - blog frame

“I've previously done Scafell Pike at night time and wanted to do something hard to raise as much money as possible.”

“I remember Ralph had a high temperature and developed a rash the size of a 50 pence piece on his tummy. I tried the glass test and when the rash wasn't disappearing with the glass I knew something was serious.

“So, I rushed him down to A&E and they said a doctor would be along, but they were extremely busy. Ralph was dead sleepy, so I wasn't going to wake him. He didn't need a nappy change and when I eventually did do a nappy change the rash had then covered most of his body.

“I alerted the doctor who stopped everything they were doing and came to see him straight away.

Lumbar puncture

“And then he got the lumbar puncture. We got a sample out of his spinal fluid and the spine and then he was on two weeks of strong antibiotics where me and him were in hospital. I didn’t want to leave his side and for the first 48 hours me and him weren't allowed out of the room.

“It was near Christmas time and after ten days he was allowed to come home so we had Christmas Day at home, but had to return to hospital every day at 10:00 so he could have his drip. We were allowed home when his observation checks were okay.

“He lost his hearing for about three months but that’s all come back now luckily. Apart from being a bit slower than other kids to talk and do certain things he's doing alright.

People need support

“Afterwards I was researching different charities and saw that Meningitis Now support and help families who are going through difficult times after a meningitis experience and wanted to support the charity. Because people obviously do need support.

“I've recently done May2024 for Macmillan and previously done Scafell Pike for another charity at night time and wanted to do something hard to raise as much money as possible. Which is why I have chosen to fundraise for Meningitis Now by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

“It’s going to be a long climb up a very steep mountain which is 5,895 metres above sea level, with a section at the end where you are scrambling up it.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

“To prepare I’ve been trying to complete three laps of the marina where I live. Each lap is a mile and I use a 20kg weighted vest to replicate my kit bag that will be with me on my climb. I try and stick to having a weighted vest on as well, so it mimics me carrying a bag with all the gear.

“And one thing I didn't realise is because it used to be a volcano, there’s no soft grounds, no grass, there's no sand. So those conditions will be quite harsh.

“But I’m feeling good about it. I just did a 1,000 metre climb at the weekend and felt great afterwards, so I've only got to do that for eight days.”

If you’d like to support James’s incredible fundraising effort please visit his fundraising page. And to find out more about fundraising for Meningitis Now, you can have a look at events, opportunities and other ways you can get involved on our website. or get in touch with our Fundraising team on fundraising@meningitisnow.org.