Andrew’s trek to the Roof of Africa
We are continually amazed by all of the wonderful things our supporters get up to in order to raise funds for Bobath, but next year one of our supporters, Andrew Tomlinson, is taking on something truly special…in January he is travelling all the way to Tanzania to climb not just one, but TWO mountains! Andrew will be trekking to the summit of Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for Bobath Scotland and Glasgow City Mission, and we can’t put in to words how we grateful we are to him for choosing us as one of the beneficiaries of his fundraising. But enough from us! Andrew has kindly written a blog post for us all about the exciting challenges he will face as he treks to the ‘Roof of Africa’.
On January 24th 2017 I’ll be on my way to Tanzania to trek towards the roof of Africa, up Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro. Kilimanjaro is a personal challenge both physically and symbolically. Everyone has their own mountains to climb, one of the keys to climbing any mountain is developing an understanding of who you are. A mountain is a mirror in my case – it’s about holding a mirror to myself and my relationship with cerebral palsy. Bobath Scotland was a natural choice as one of the benefactors of my fundraising from climbing Kilimanjaro. I only heard of Bobath a year ago and I’m 33! I feel the whole idea of Kilimanjaro is a symbol of life and its challenges, the highs and the lows. I grew up as the only person I knew with cerebral palsy, with no peers or role models I could relate to. Perhaps Kilimanjaro itself can be a role model of life’s possibilities.
I’m also raising money for Glasgow city Mission, as when I decided to climb Kilimanjaro I wanted to help charities in Glasgow to reach a range of various support needs. I have a close friend who volunteers for GCM and as well helping provide services like a kitchen to provide food for Glasgow’s homeless in Glasgow’s city centre they also have a family centre in Govan. I think both Bobath Scotland and GCM symbolise all the mountains Glasgow faces, whether that’s physical disability, homelessness, addiction and poverty. An example of this is 50% of poverty involves someone in the household with a disability.
As Kilimanjaro gets closer the excitement is building. The first person with cerebral palsy to climb Kilimanjaro was Bonner Paddock during 2008, with Dave Pagden the first Brit to reach the summit. He used Meru as an acclimatisation aid however decided with guides that Kilimanjaro was the main objective and so decided to bypass the chance to reach the summit.
I like the experience of different cultures and climates; Kilimanjaro has many distinct climates from rain forest, grassland, moorland, Lunar Desert, and the artic at the top. The trek will take myself physically and psychologically out of my comfort zone, although the opportunity to attempt to summit all three peaks (Little Meru, Meru and eventually Uhuru Peak) is too good to turn down. As far as I know I’ll be one of the few with cerebral palsy to climb all the associated peaks, and I have always looked towards things that are often dismissed as out of reach by society. “How can a guy with mobility problems travel and trek to the summit of Meru and Kilimanjaro?” – Again it’s about taking yourself out of your natural environment. So much of the infrastructure in modern society has not been developed with disability in mind. I find so much of what “disables” us in our everyday life is not the disability itself, but a mix of infrastructure and social ignorance, which when combined act as a real barrier.
Everyone who climbs Kilimanjaro will experience stiffness, muscle aches and fatigue, spasms and nausea at some stage of the trek, so in many ways maybe I have a head start! The most daunting aspect of climbing Meru and Kilimanjaro is the night walk to the summit where the only light you’ll see is the 25 feet of light that’s omitted from your head torch. That’s when we become exposed, as Kilimanjaro slowly chips away at the masks we wear in everyday life, even disability. On the mountain we are all equal and that’s the message I hope to share, a message that has the potential to be transformational.