A GROUP of seven intrepid travellers have laced up their walking boots to climb Kilimanjaro in aid of Prospect Hospice.

The plucky group set off from the Wroughton-based hospice yesterday afternoon for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in Tanzania and, combined, they have so far managed to raise £54,553.38.

The challenging trek will take seven days to complete and is considered to be one of the charity’s highest grossing fundraisers – with all the proceeds helping to provide dedicated end-of-life care to patients people in the town.

Each person had a different reason for taking part but everyone hopes to complete the fundraising mission with a smile on their face.

Among those putting on his walking boots is Kevin Howard, 57, whose wife Sarah was supported by Prospect after she was diagnosed with a brain tumour four years ago.

He said: “They helped us at home and the support they gave was essential.

“We had a nurse come out overnight to let me get some sleep when Sarah was at home and they even managed to get a bed for her when she was really bad.

“People think Prospect just helps the patient but they do everything.

“They have counselling and support afterwards to help you get over the death and they have helped with other things I would have never known about.”

Fellow trekker Carl Bunce, who lives in Old Town, saw the trek as not only a personal challenge but one that would help his employer, Gibbs Surfacing Ltd, hit their £10,000 target for Prospect.

“I have always wanted to do Kilimanjaro and at the company we have all been doing a bit to raise money,” the 52-year-old said.

“My auntie was here last year and she was my mum’s best friend so that is another reason why I wanted to take part.

“Everyone knows what a wonderful job Prospect Hospice do and every time you speak to people about it, everyone knows how they help people.”

“One of the women in the office last year had her husband here and she got married to him days before he passed so everyone has been touched or benefited from Prospect Hospice at some point in their life.”

Family and friends gathered in Wroughton to wave off the group, including Angela Jordan, the CEO of Prospect Hospice.

“To raise that amount is staggering and they have to give up 11 days of their lives to do this for us,” she said.

“You can’t just go and climb a mountain, they would have had to put a lot of time in already.

“They are not only doing a great thing in raising money for us but this experience will be so bonding for them. By the time they come back, they would have made new friendships they wouldn’t have had before and to do something purposeful in memory of someone close to them is wonderful.”