A DROMORE woman will set out to scale Africa's highest mountain next year, fulfilling an ambition and hopefully raising some charity cash in the process.
Well-known local athlete Jill Bruce (32) decided the time was right to pursue her goal of trekking up Mount Kilimanjaro on the border of Kenya and Tanzania.
But the experienced trekker thought it would be better still if someone else were to benefit from her efforts and so she is using the challenge to raise cash for the charity Riders for Health.
Founded by motorcycle racing enthusiasts the charity aims to maintain an all-terrain transportation network to deliver aid to inaccessible regions of Africa, where it also operates training schools, giving jobs to local people.
"I was going to do it anyway," said Jill, "and I thought it would be better to raise some money for something; with this charity the money will actually help in the area we're going to.
"I did Trek Namibia for Action Cancer last year and you really get your eyes opened when you go there, so I thought it would be good to do something for Africa."
Jill and some friends she made during the Namibia trek will be undertaking the climb next year under the auspices of 'Discover Adventure'.
And while it is not officially affiliated to any charity, so Jill has no set target to make, whatever money she raises will go to Riders for Health.
"Whatever I get I will give to them and money goes a long way over in Africa," she said.
The Kilimanjaro trek is a five-day challenge, the final day featuring a 15-hour slog to the summit, but Jill, a former international athlete whose current interests include playing football for Dromore Amateurs Ladies, has no worries about fitness.
"At the minute we're going up the Mournes about once a month and taking some long walks," she said. "I would still run too and I would go down to the athletics club the odd time but I don't have the same time for it and it's not an everyday thing.
"Kilimanjaro's 5,895m high; I used to run the 5000m, but then that was on the flat."
Jill's main concern, however, is sickness.
"They say there's fair chance of getting altitude sickness," she said, "and to try and combat that when you're going up the mountain you actually have to come back down a bit to camp before covering the same ground again.
"Hopefully it won't be a problem because if it's bad there's nothing for it but to come back down the mountain."
Other than that, and the prospect of missing her creature comforts, Jill's excited about the prospect of the trek.
"I'm actually looking forward to it," she said, "though I'm not looking forward to living rough and not being able to get a proper wash."
Jill will be setting up a bank account for her charity donations in due course and anyone who wishes to donate can get in touch with her on 077 080 74 127.