Scaling the heights for Deeside charity

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SONY DSC

A Deeside mum-of-three is to climb the highest mountain in Africa in aid of Riding for the Disabled.

Jill Randalls lives on a farm just outside Strachan with husband Bryce and three children Alisdair, 18, Cameron, 16, and Findlay, 12.

She leaves for Tanzania tomorrow (February 10) and will begin her climb on February 13.

“When a friend suggested that we should climb Kilimanjaro, I realised that if I didn’t do it now I probably never would, as I was 50 last year, and that it was my turn to go off and do something,” said Jill. “I also needed a challenge in my life.

“I have never done anything like this before, and maybe never will again! I’ve been training since the summer but more seriously since Christmas.

“I walk every day but try to do three long walks on three consecutive days. I have been walking up Peter Hill, Clachnaben, Kerloch and Bennachie on a regular basis as well as Scolty and the Hill of Fare.

“I am also swimming whenever I have the time. It has been hard to find the time to do the training, but I have fitted it in around the farm and the family when I can. “Altitude sickness is a real worry as there is no way of knowing how the altitude will affect you personally and how you will cope. However, we are going up on one of the longer routes, so have more chance of acclimatising.

“The group consists of 12 people, mostly local to Deeside but one from Australia, and has been organised through Walk Deeside Ltd.

“They have been great at helping us plan for the trip by organising two practice hikes and an equipment evening at Hilltrek in Aboyne.

“It will take us five days to reach the summit at 19,340ft (5,895m),” said Jill. “I have paid for the trip out of my own pocket but several people suggested that it was an added incentive to reach the top if you had sponsorship.

“I decided to ask for money to be donated to Riding for the Disabled Association Deeside (Scotland) Group - a charity that I have been involved with for eight years.”

RDA Deeside meets at Khalsbanna Stables, at Dess near Aboyne, and is run entirely by volunteers. It has 26 riders (adults and children) who have either physical or learning disabilities.

“We meet on Tuesday and Friday mornings, during term time, from Easter to November,” said Jill. “The riders have fun as well as gaining from the therapy that horse riding provides.”

Jill can be sponsored by going to BT MyDonate, clicking on the ‘sponsor a fundraiser’ button and entering her name.

RDA Deeside is always in need of more volunteers to either lead the ponies or to help the riders. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact: jill.randalls@btinternet.com or (01330) 824850.