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Why Lesley's on top of the world

PUBLISHED: 12:32 17 February 2011 | UPDATED: 18:53 20 February 2013

Lesley on her long climb to the top of Kilimanjaro

Lesley on her long climb to the top of Kilimanjaro

More used to walking the dog in the park, radio presenter Lesley Dolphin took on the challenge of a lifetime when she was persuaded to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of The Treehouse Appeal, as she tells Richard Bryson

More used to walking the dog in the park, radio presenter Lesley Dolphin took on the challenge of a lifetime when she was persuaded to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of The Treehouse Appeal, as she tells Richard Bryson




Up until this January, BBC Radio Suffolk broadcaster Lesley Dolphins fitness levels were maintained by regular dog walks and some cycling.
Then over a boozy Sunday lunch with friends she was challenged to really test herself for a local charity the East Anglias Children Hospice Treehouse Appeal to build a hospice in Ipswich for life-threatened children and their families.
The' test would involve walking . . . but walking up a gradient, almost 6,000 metres up to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the worlds tallest freestanding mountain.
This charity African adventure, to one of the worlds most romantic settings, was an ordeal and one she very nearly didnt get through.
It was full-on. Nothing prepares you for it and it was definitely no walk in the park. From the word go we were told to go slowly and conserve energy, or pole-pole as they say in Swahili, she says.
All of us suffered in different ways during the climb but just before the ascent I was so sick and demoralised I didnt feel I could go on and wanted to turn back. My general fitness was okay but it was the altitude sickness that was making me feel so low, she admits.
But her invaluable guide Remy spurred her on repeating the mantra of positive mental attitude ingrained in all of the climbers in her party and she was proud to reach the summit to see a quite incredible sunrise. You could actually see the curvature of the earth as the sun came up . . . it was a spellbinding sight.
As we climbed in the darkness, news came through of Ipswich Town leading Arsenal 1-0 in the Carling Cup so that was something to lift our spirits, she says.
Fortunately all the training of the past nine months Lesley regularly went to the gym and went on long walks around Ipswich and Felixstowe helped her realise her goal.
But after the pain comes the gain. Lesley and her fellow climbers have been amazed and humbled by the response from members of the public towards their appeal efforts.
Their target was 30,000 and, as of mid-January, more than 40,000 had been raised towards the 3million needed to build and equip a new purpose-designed hospice for life-threatened children and their families in Suffolk and north Essex.




Just before the ascent I was so sick and demoralised I didnt feel I could go on and wanted to turn back.





The motivation of The Treehouse Appeal kept me going. It is something I really wanted to be part of, she says. I have visited the local hospices caring for adults in Suffolk and know what fantastic work they do I couldnt believe we did not have the equivalent for children here in the county.
She admits to being very moved as cheques and promises have flooded in and says she had to keep a stiff upper lip when she went back on air to host her afternoon show and talk about the trip.
I also cant stress enough that I was only one member of a team. Our leader Steve Flory and his wife Jayne masterminded the trip and with us were David and Ian Rowledge, Sally and Robert Collins, Glenys Carter, John Button, Clive Sparkes, Stuart Scarfe, John Hutton, Mark Loades and Nick Jacobs.
We knew each other beforehand and weve obviously got to know each even more over the past week or so. We are all local people doing everyday jobs so it proves what you can do. Im a fifty-something and its proved to me you can do more than you think if you put your mind to it.
The African Walking Company looked after us really well too. Basically we just walked, they set up and took down our camps and provided us with meals.
We were urged to take in lots of fluids and breakfasts usually consisted of porridge, toast and eggs. Later in the day we would have things like soups, vegetable stews, popcorn and hot drinks.
Their satellite phone link didnt always work but text mesages got through so the group were aware of support from friends and loved ones in England.
Getting back home to Ipswich after such an experience has been quite surreal, says Lesley. Her husband, BBC Radio Suffolk morning show presenter Mark Murphy, and her younger son John, gave her a welcome back party and she was also delighted to be able to walk her dog Satsuma over less testing terrain than she found in Tanzania.
Its great to be back, but now theres that feeling of right, whats the next challenge! she laughs.



To make a donation, simply visit http://www.justgiving.com/kilimanjaroforthetreehouseappeal

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