Reaching a fundraising peak of £14,000 was the best motivation possible for Duns woman Elaine Whellans as she attempted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
The support she got from her fellows Dingers back home obviously did the trick as after a gruelling trek she reached the famous summit, frequented by the likes of Cheryl Cole and Chris Moyles in the past.
Elaine completed the brave and ambitious mission in aid of Good 2 Give, a charity that helps families and children with cancer.
Elaine knows all too well how it feels to be in that situation. Son Aaron was gravely ill with leukaemia, but now 18 he is enjoying a normal life. Like his sister Jade, and Elaine’s husband Adam, he is mightily proud of what she’s achieved.
“Aaron was the first person I spoke to when I reached the summit; he was just making the tea,” Elaine joked.
“Actually getting to the top was a bit weird.
“You’re focussed so much on getting there, but your oxygen levels are that low that you have to get back off the mountain straight away.
“People had taken whisky and gin and tonic to have when they reached the summit, but none of it was opened. Some people’s brains were so starved of oxygen that they can’t remember getting there.”
After deciding to climb Kilimanjaro two years ago, Elaine trained hard to ensure she was in the best condition possible to take on the challenge, but there were some things she just couldn’t prepare for.
“I took something over there to monitor our oxygen levels. At home they’re typically around 99 per cent, but the highest mine reached on the mountain was 82.
“On summit morning it was only 65. You’d be in intensive care over here with that reading!
“Thirty one of us set off from base camp ; 24 reached the summit and 17 reached the final point. A few people suffered badly with altitude sickness; thankfully I didn’t.
“We were warned about it and I read last week that footballer Robbie Savage had to abandon his Kilimanjaro climb because he was hit so bad with it.”
When she was doing the climb, Elaine’s family, particularly Jade, who works in the local chemist, were stopped all the time to ask how she was getting on.
“That’s Duns for you,” Elaine joked.
“It’s always the same and the people are amazing. It was great doing the trek knowing I had everyone’s support.”