A farmer from Bishops Lydeard is swapping the fields of Somerset for the peaks of one of the world’s highest mountains to raise money for charity.
James Hawthorne is taking on the Kilimanjaro Challenge, a gruelling attempt to scale the world’s tallest freestanding mountain to raise money for African farmers so they can produce more food in a harsh climate.
The 45-year-old has joined a team of seven from the NFU to raise money for Farm Africa’s Africa 100 Appeal. He and his wife Katie, who also spent their honeymoon in Kenya, have already raised money for the cause by running the London Marathon.
The team left yesterday and will start the trek up Kilimanjaro on Saturday. They hope to reach the summit on October 5.
“I decided to take on this challenge for Farm Africa as I’m tired of seeing images of hungry children and the charity’s work makes sense – they work to end hunger,” he said. “As a farmer I know how much support farmers in the UK have to set up their farms. We have safety nets which African farmers simply don’t have.
“I am glad as a UK farmer that I can help to support fellow farmers in Africa by doing this climb. I want to see a future where African farmers feed Africa.”
For training, Mr Hawthorne and his wife undertook a daily dawn walk in the Quantock Hills and he also ran five times a week in the countryside to prepare for the challenge.
And once on the mountain, he and his fellow climbers will also have to brave the extreme weather, blisters, intense fatigue, possible altitude sickness and sleeping rough at camp sites – to help transform the lives of 800 women farmers in Kenya.
While he said he knew climbing Kilimanjaro would not be easy, he said he was looking forward to coming down and celebrating with his family, including two sons Thomas and Olla.