A dozen Orangemen from Co Down are planning an ambitious trip to Africa during which they will attempt to scale Mount Kilimanjaro.
The men from Banbridge District No 7 have a proud history of undertaking gruelling fundraising ventures, with this particular challenge requiring two years of groundwork.
Deputy District Master Stuart Magill said: “In this last 10 years at Banbridge Orange Hall we’ve raised over £280,000 for different causes and charities.
“Drumming For Heroes from LOL 423 has raised £167,000. They’ve carried a Lambeg drum up to the top of Ben Nevis and cycled from John O’Groats to Landsend with a Lambeg on the back of a bike.
“They also did the four peaks of the UK in four days, and walked the route of King Billy from the south of England to Carrickfergus and down to the Boyne, also bringing the Lambeg.”
Banbridge Orange Hall is home to several different lodges including LOL 423 and LOL 20 of which Stuart is a member.
“This time it will be our lodge that’s doing Kilimanjaro though we won’t be bringing a Lambeg – it’s going to be hard enough as it is,” he continued. “It’s a follow up to the Walk of Remembrance when we walked 100 miles from Thiepval Memorial to Menin Gate.”
The 37-year-old added: “It was my idea to climb Killimanjaro. I’ve never done it before, that’s why I want to do it.
“There’s 12 of us doing it. My biggest worry was getting 12. It’s 7,000 miles away, over Christmas, the whole trip is paid for by ourselves which is costing quite a bit of money.
“In the end we got 12 easy, now we’re looking at maybe getting another group of 12.
“We go on December 27, 2021. There’s a big build to allow us to pay for it, the cost of the trip is coming out of each person’s pocket so that every penny raised is going to the charity. It also gives us plenty of time to train for it, and also to raise money for the two charities.”
Two charities are set to benefit – the Children’s Cancer Unit in Royal Victoria Hospital and Angel Wishes which helps children with cancer and supports their families.
He said the two charities were close to the hearts of those taking part in the trek as they were good friends with a family from Banbridge who are indebted to the services provided by the organisations.
Stuart said: “The oldest person taking part is in his sixties and the youngest is in his twenties.
“The majority of training will be in the Mournes for fitness and stamina, but there’s no training over here really for the altitude. Once we go over the 3,000 metres altitude sickness could kick in and it could affect anybody no matter how fit you are.
“There’s not a 100% success rate, it could be as low as 60% depending on what route you go.
“We’ve a flag to put at the top if we get there. It’s going to be maybe minus 20 at the top, we’ll be wearing maybe four or five layers, it’s extremely doubtful any of us will have our sashes on.”