Milcombe man climbs Mount Kilimanjaro for meningitis charity in step-daughter's memory

Wayne Cowley, from Milcombe, with his guide Salvatore climbing Kilimanjaro for Meningitis Research Foundation
Wayne Cowley, from Milcombe, with his guide Salvatore climbing Kilimanjaro for Meningitis Research Foundation

A Milcombe man raised more than £5,000 for a meningitis charity by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in memory of his step-daughter who died of septicaemia at six-months-old.

Wayne Cowley and six others all with personal experiences of meningitis or septicaemia climbed Africa’s highest mountain to raise funds for Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) last month.

The team who climbed Kilimanjaro for Meningitis Research Foundation

The team who climbed Kilimanjaro for Meningitis Research Foundation

The 37-year-old undertook the challenge in memory of daughter Mia, from his wife Laura Cowley’s previous marriage, who tragically lost her life to meningococcal septicaemia.

Wayne said: “Trekking up Kilimanjaro was the toughest thing I’ve ever done.

"I had bad altitude sickness while climbing and the guides told me on day two that they didn’t think I should continue but I carried on and even crawled the last 100 meters.

"I was determined to reach the summit for Mia and for Laura. The amazing team of people I was with kept me going.

"Arriving back in the UK I felt very tired and achy, but apart from a broken toe I’m in one piece and feeling happy that I achieved this.

"I’m grateful to everyone who sponsored me and enabled me to reach my £5,000 fundraising goal.”

On this seven day adventure, the group trekked through tropical rainforests, ascending through cloud level and finally reaching their ultimate goal - Uhuru the 5,895m high ice-capped peak of Kilimanjaro, on October 30.

Laura said: “When I lost Mia I had no idea how quickly this nasty disease could take hold and change lives forever.

"By raising money for MRF our hope is to help make a little difference even to just one person’s life.

"Wayne has amazed me with his strength and determination getting through Kilimanjaro and I’m so proud of him.

"He knows how much my charity work means to me and that’s why he pushed through and reached the top.”

The group climbed together for a world free from meningitis and septicaemia; a shared objective leading to the ultimate personal achievement, conquering one of the seven wonders of the natural world.

MRF head of support Rob Dawson said, “We are extremely grateful to Wayne and Laura for supporting MRF and we appreciate everyone who took part in this tough challenge.

"The funds that they have raised will help us enormously in our research, awareness and support programmes to ensure that other families don’t have to go through what Wayne and Laura’s has as a result of meningitis and septicaemia.”

MRF warns that cases of meningitis and septicaemia are expected to rise over the winter period, and people should be especially aware of the symptoms at this time.

Check you know the symptoms at www.meningitis.org.