A medical student from Riddings is gearing up to climb Africa’s highest mountain for a charity bringing clean water to rural areas of Kenya.
Sophie Taylor, 19, is now in her first year of training to become a doctor at Keele University, but is hoping support from her hometown will push her to the top of Kilimajaro in Tanzania this August.
She is part of a group of students fundraising for Dig Deep, which helps schools and communities install taps and toilets to improve sanitation and public health.
Sophie said: “I don’t know which way my medical career will go yet, but global health is something that’s important to me.
“When I was young, my grandma always made donations to Oxfam for my birthday and Christmas, so I’ve always been aware of it. Clean water and hygiene is something I’m passionate about.”
She added: “I’ve never done any fundraising or volunteering on this scale before, but when the opportunity arose I felt I had to sign up.
“I thought it’s better to get involved than just be someone who watches other people do the work - even if it does mean I have to climb a mountain.”
A former Swanwick Hall student, Sophie has always been willing to give up her time for a good cause - helping out in a home for older people and as part of the Street Doctors charity which delivers First Aid training to young people at risk of violence.
Fitting the necessary training and fundraising for her trek around an exhausting university schedule is a new challenge though.
She said: “Everyone in the group has to raise a minimum of £2,990 to take part - half of that is to cover the cost of the trek and the other half goes directly to the charity.
“We will be holding fundraising events at university throughout the rest of the year. I’m more nervous about finding the money than I am about being able to complete the climb.”
The group will climb to the summit at 5,895 metres over the space of a week.
Sophie’s previous highest ascent was Snowdon in Wales, at just 1,085 metres.
She said: “They say you don’t have to be super fit to reach the top, but I’ll be going to the gym a lot more. I’m not sure how I’ll find the time around my studies, but I will.”
Dig Deep works with Narok and Bomet Counties in the south west of Kenya, where currently eight out of ten people lack access to clean water and sanitation.
As well as installing water infrastructure, their teams provide hygiene training to improve childhood health.
To find out more, go to www.digdeep.org.uk.
To help Sophie’s fundraising, see https://goo.gl/xViLQU.