Fundraiser joins Kilimanjaro climb to support Manchester bombing victim

·3-min read
Graeme Hackland who has been training to climb Mount Kilimanjaro Photo: Spinal Injuries Association
Graeme Hackland who has been training to climb Mount Kilimanjaro Photo: Spinal Injuries Association

Graeme Hackland is to climb Africa’s highest mountain as part of an initiative to raise £1m for the Spinal Injuries Association.

The campaign, known as Martin’s Mountain, follows Manchester Arena bombing survivor Martin Hibbert as he scales Mount Kilimanjaro in a specially adapted Mountain Trike, having sustained a paralytic spinal cord injury in the 2017 attack.

Now, five years on from the incident, Mr Hackland, from Grove, will be joining Martin and his 11 other team members on a seven-day trip traversing the rocky and rugged path to the summit.

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The team has a goal of raising £1m for the charity and helping those who, like Martin, are facing similar life-changing spinal cord injuries.

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As part of the run-up to the momentous Kilimanjaro challenge next month, the Martin’s Mountain team is encouraging the public to get involved too, and has launched the #MY19 social media campaign, challenging people to get away from their home desks and get outside in the fresh air for 19 minutes. These 19 minutes represent the 19,000ft of Kilimanjaro and the mountains that those living with spinal cord injuries must face every day.

Mr Hackland, who has been working in Formula 1, explained that he wanted to get involved in the climb because he was inspired by Sir Frank Williams and his colleague Matt King, both of who were supported by the SIA.

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He added: “Summiting Kilimanjaro with Martin and his team will be the most significant achievement of my life.

“I close my eyes and imagine us all - arms raised high - on top of the world and it makes me so emotional!

“We’ll raise awareness and money for the 2,500 people sustaining an spinal cord injury in the UK every year.”

Against the backdrop of an enquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing, Mr Hibbert is determined to turn the spotlight away from the people who tried to end his life and towards the charity that helped him rebuild it, to help others who are facing similar life-changing injuries.

Mr Hibbert said of the challenge: “It’ll be the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

“But climbing Kilimanjaro is only part of the story.

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“My true ambition is to enable every spinal cord injured person to receive the specialist care and support they need to live the life they choose and reach their full potential.

“I want to start a movement that will create a better and fairer society for disabled people.”

Every four hours another person is paralysed - and another family’s life torn apart. The aim of the Spinal Injuries Association is to be the go-to place for everyone affected by spinal cord injury (SCI), so that it can quickly connect them to the network of people, organisations and services they need.

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This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

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