IT was after listening to a blind motivational speaker talking about his many adventures, including climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, that sisters Jane Havenhand and Jacquie Falvey thought: “We should do something like that.”
Not long after Jane went for lunch with Hilary Massarella, the founder of Dinnington charity Safe@Last charity, who told her about their next big fundraising challenge.
Jane said: “She told me they were going to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.”
“I couldn’t believe it and decided it was fate, so we had to do it.”
Next Wednesday the dream will become reality when they set off by coach from the charity’s head office to Heathrow, ready for the flight to Tanzania.
They will be away from home for 12 days, eight days of which will be spent trekking to the summit of Africa’s highest mountain and back.
The sisters, who live next to each other in Dinnington and are also both Dinnington town and Rotherham borough councillors, have been in training since signing up 11 months ago.
The other member of their team is Ralph McIver, 46, also a Dinnington town councillor.
Mum-of-two Jacquie, 46, said: “We’re nervous but excited about it.”
“The worst thing will be that we’ll be out of touch with our families for nearly the whole time, because there won’t be a mobile phone signal on the mountain.”
She said when she checked the weather conditions it was a roasting 33C at the base of Kilimanjaro, but a freezing -5C at the top - with the wind chill factor bringing it down to -15C.
“We will have porters to carry our luggage, but we can only pack 15kg, which will include a down jacket and all the extra layers we will need on the way up.”
“We have to carry four litres of water ourselves, and we’ve been told we have to drink six to seven litres of water a day.”
Jane, 47, who has five children, has taken part in previous fundraising challenges in this country, including climbing the Three Peaks - the highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales.
She said: “I have tried to keep my fitness levels up and we have both been doing a lot of walking. We have trained together and separately, and with our families.”
“The worst part will be trying to acclimatise. I remember feeling a bit unwell at the top of Ben Nevis, and very cold.”
“We’ve had to have various injections and will be taking anti-malaria tablets. We’ve also learnt to say poli poli, which is slowly slowly in Swahili, because you have to take it steady on the climb up.”
Jane’s daughter Rachel, 20, is a fitness instructor at Intershape in Dinnington and has also been helping her mum and auntie to get fit.
The sisters will be climbing 5,890m (19,350ft) to the summit and oxygen will be in short supply.
Jacquie said: “Apparently your IQ goes down to that of a six-year-old because your body has to decide whether to send oxygen to your brain or to the rest of your body to keep warm.”
“It’s going to be interesting!”
They will be sleeping in tents and have bought sleeping bags designed for temperatures as low as -20C.
Meals will be prepared for them and will consist of lots of carbohydrates, such as porridge for breakfast and beans for lunch.
They have also been warned about the toilet facilities, or rather lack of them.
“We have bought a she-wee each so that we don’t have to get undressed in the cold and we will all be issued with a trowel to dig a hole when we need to go for the other,” laughed Jane.
They will be getting up at 6am each day and will be trekking a total of 60km (44 miles), walking around five to eight hours a day.
Day nine will be the most gruelling. They will rise at midnight and will be walking for 12 to 15 hours to reach the summit.
The sisters have had to raise £4,000 each to cover the £2,400 cost of the trip and raise money for Safe@Last.
Both of them have worked for the charity before and it remains close to their hearts.
They have been holding fundraising events to help raise the cash needed and have been overwhelmed by the support they have received from local businesses, as well as family and friends.
Jane, Jacquie and Ralph will be among a party of 23 people taking part in the challenge for Safe@Last.
Donations can be made at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/JaneJacquieRalph.