The heights were alive with the sound of music

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What better way to spend quality mother and

daughter time, suggests Dromara woman Pauline Crompton, than by together scaling the highest free-standing mountain in the world?

Breast cancer survivor Pauline and her daughter Kerry did just that, joining seven friends and together raising more than £19,000 with a trek along Mount Kilimanjaro’s Machame route.

Theirs is a tale of challenging terrain, extreme weather, altitude sickness and The Sound of Music. “We got to Uhuru Peak, the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro,” said Pauline, “and through laughter and tears we celebrated getting to a height of 5,895 metres.

“We took the Machame route, which was very scenic and steep. Trekking through rainforest, moorland and desert-type terrain and experiencing weather conditions ranging from the tropical to the artic, we sang our way to the top.

“We were like the family Von Trapp, though our singing ability was rather suspect.”

On a serious note, Pauline reported that three of the party suffered from altitude sickness for most of the week and her daughter Kerry also fell ill on summit day. “It made the climb more strenuous for them,” she said, “and, unfortunately, on the advice of our guide, one of our group didn’t make the summit. “About 400 metres short she collapsed and had to be carried back down the mountain.

“It was very scary to watch but thankfully she quickly recovered.”

Diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2001, Pauline undertook her ‘Kili-climb’ to raise money for Cancer Research UK and Law Enforment Torch Run, in aid of Special Olympics.

Her cancer diagnosis had come as “quite a shock”, she said, but during lengthy treatment her involvement with Law Enforcement Torch Run had kept her focused and given her the drive to keep fighting.

“Cancer is a disease which can affect anyone regardless of age or gender, ” she said, “and indeed in our village of Dromara and surrounding areas we are not immune, with many families having to face the difficulties and changes cancer can bring.”