Intrepid Haslemere granny Tess Burrows is setting out on another challenging trek in a fortnight – this time climbing nearly 6,000 metres to the summit of Africa’s highest mountain Kilimanjaro, which she hopes to reach in time for UN Peace Day on September 21.
With partner Pete Hammond and her team of 11 adventurers, she will be sending out a series of ‘peace messages’ from the top of Kilimanjaro on the special day, including many sent from Haslemere school children.
Youngsters from Brookham, St Bartholomews and from Woolmer Hill will be following the climb and remembering their own peace messages on September 21.
“This event is a focus for peace and a bid to show individuals can make a difference to the peace and harmony of the planet,” said Tess this week.
She and her partner have raised more than £108,000 over the past decade, mostly for the building of six schools in Tibet for under-privileged children.
On their latest climb, they are also raising funds for Africa, particularly the planting of trees to help famine-struck communities and the environment.
They have previously sent off ‘peace messages’ from the Andes, Himalayas, Pacific, North Pole and most recently from the South Pole, all gruelling and sometimes life-threatening journeys.
Besides coping with the steepness of the mountain and enduring the extreme altitude, they will be endeavouring to pull a peace tyre with them up the 6,000-metre ascent, which will hold the messages to symbolise pulling together for peace.
They will also be carrying a heavy lantern holding the light of the world peace flame.
Tess has been training in the West Sussex countryside by pulling a tyre along the Greensands Way, sometimes with her grandchildren on board.
“It will by no means be easy,” said Tess.
“Some of our team have never climbed a mountain before and three of us are well into pensioner age.
“All will be coping with the steepness of the mountain, enduring the extreme altitude, and struggling with the dragging of a peace tyre holding the messages.”
She said it would give the team huge strength to know their efforts were helping raise funds for Tree Aid, for their tree-planting project in Ethiopia.
Tree Aid was set up in Britain in response to the 1980s drought and famine as a way of tackling the devastating resulting poverty.
“As similar conditions again sweep the horn of Africa, causing untold heartache and human tragedy, we know planting trees will not only help the grass roots survival of the local people, but also the longer-term environmental protection on which life depends,” said Tess.
The team, which aims to raise £7,500 in sponsorship to support a variety of charities, has so far collected £3,345.
Behind team-leaders Tess Burrows with her partner Pete, the other members of the Kilimanjaro expedition are Rima Chai, Nicholas Pilbrow, Ann Tang, Jackie Hau, Mary Jackson, Jacob Whittingham, Gideon Whittingham, Nick Thomas and Jessica Hensley.
Among the messages being carried to the summit were many from young people, Tess told the Observer.
“There are so many from children saying things like ‘I wish for no more wars’, ‘May all nations work together’, ‘I promise not to fight with my brother.’
“We undertake to send these out on to the winds of the planet. If just one small voice is heard, then all the effort will have all been worthwhile.”
Anyone who would like to support the trek or find out more about the peace messages should visit www.climbfortibet.org