Over the summer, five pupils from Oundle scaled the heights of Africa’s highest peak in aid of Niamh’s Next Step. Peter Christianakis (F), Frankie Hunt (Sc), Alex Verge (G), Jamie Sherlock and Joe Waind raised an impressive £5500 for the charity.

Niamh’s Next Step was established in December 2012 after the Currys lost their five-year-old daughter Niamh to the childhood cancer, neuroblastoma, in May 2012. Founder Chris Curry spoke at a Community Action Field Weekend about his work to raise funds for research, and his talk inspired the boys to nominate the charity for their Kilimanjaro climb.

The climb was characterised by many challenges. The most difficult section was the bitterly cold final assent, when they woke up at 1am and climbed all night in the dark in an effort to arrive at the top for sunrise. They could only walk 100m at a time, and then had to rest for ten minutes to acclimatise to the thin air. With temperatures at minus 10 degrees, there were hours of complete silence as everyone in the group concentrated on pushing through fatigue and altitude sickness.

Their exultation at mounting the summit to look out over the other peaks above the clouds, was matched by the relief of finally reaching the bottom after a gruelling descent, where they could appreciate what they had achieved.

Neuroblastoma is an aggressive cancer that mainly affects children. Around 100 children in the UK are diagnosed with neuroblastoma each year, of which only around 30% will survive. Niamh’s Next Step aims to raise funds and awareness of neuroblastoma, whilst offering help, support and advice to children and families affected by childhood cancer.