Sisters to climb Kilimanjaro for Smiles Foundation

Sisters Alison Patton and Susanne McNeilly from Ballymoney are facing a tough challenge this summer to raise money for The Smiles Foundation. They are climbing Kilimanjaro in Tanzania along with 13 others in July.

Dominating the landscape like no other mountain, Kilimanjaro is the highest volcano in the world and the highest free-standing mountain in the world at 5895 metres, or 19,340 feet. It is one of the fabled Seven Summits, the highest peak in Africa and a great challenge for the adventure traveller and aspirant mountaineer.

The total trek distance is 120 kilometres, over 7 days with a net height gain of 4405 metres and passing through five distinctly different habitats – cultivated farmland, montane forest, alpine heath, semi-desert and ice-cap. The temperature will generally be warm during the day dropping to an average minimum of 5 degrees. Summit morning however can be as low as minus 10 or 12 degrees.

A typical day on the trek includes breakfast between 7.30am and 8.00am, and departure from camp at 9.00am. Summit morning is different; tea and biscuits at 11.30pm and start hiking to the top at midnight. Most daily hikes take from 4 – 7 hours. The team will be camping out each night in 2 man tents and there will be ‘long drops’ at each campsite.

Other team members include Tom McNeilly (Susanne’s husband), Alan McNeilly, Mark McNeilly, Davy Green, Penny Kennedy (former Development Associate for The Smiles Foundation), Brian McKee (Trustee of The Smiles Foundation), Jonathan, Olwyn and Robin Guy, Glenda McElwaine, Winifred Greaves, Ian Caddle and Karl Galdins.

The Charity seeks to relieve poverty, promote education and provide hope & opportunity for many through a variety of projects which include Evangelistic Outreach, Food Distribution, Medical Support, Social Assistance, Education, Child Care, Life Skills Training and Housing provision. The money raised by the team will go towards the building of a Joint Facility of Love catering for elderly people and disabled children. The Smiles Care Home will provide temporary and permanent facilities for the ageing community. It will be fully staffed with social carers so the residents will enjoy the comfort and security of a warm, clean and loving environment for their latter years. Having been in Romania with Smiles on various occasions, Alison and Susanne and others from the team have witnessed first hand the difficult situations that many Romanian people face. The team are holding a Charity Dinner and Table Quiz on Friday in the Lodge Hotel, Coleraine at 7pm. There will be a small talk outlining the trip then a 3 course meal and table quiz to follow. There will be prizes for the top 3 teams! Cost for the dinner and quiz is £25 per person. If you would like tickets please contact Susanne on 07752056613 / 028 9447 2458 or Alison on 07719302973 / 028 2766 9709. If you would like to give a donation online please go to If you would like to donate in cash or by cheque please contact Susanne or Alison.