Sam Bryan and Denbigh Hobbs are two friends climbing Kilimanjaro in August 2021 in order to raise funds for two causes close to their hearts:
- Supporting Jack, the five-year-old son of Sam’s close friends, who has been diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).
- Raising awareness for and supporting Mental Health UK in memory of Denbigh’s grandad, who took his own life in the 90s.
Starting on 27 August 2021, Sam and Denbigh will climb the seven-day Lemosho route with Follow Alice. They’re hoping to raise £5,000 to support little Jack’s DMD treatments and other needs, as well as £2,000 to support the great work being done by Mental Health UK.
We introduce you to Sam and Jack, after which we share the story of Denbigh and his late grandad.
Who is Sam?
Sam is a thirty-year-old Mancunian and one of the co-owners of Teach Rex, a company that provides in-school educational workshops. The aim of Teach Rex is to present creative learning experiences that provide “an emotional hook”.
Their current workshop is called ‘Gorillas – Our World’. Thomas the Gorilla (as seen below) helps them to engage the children.
Jack’s battle with Duchenne muscular dystrophy
Jack is a sweet little British boy who was diagnosed with DMD at the age of four. The diagnosis came as a complete shock to the family, and their lives pivoted in that moment.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a severe wasting disorder that affects mostly boys. It affects your large muscles as well as your respiratory and cardiovascular muscles. It’s a life-limiting disorder, but the individual can sometimes live into his 30s or even 40s if he receives excellent care and therapy.
Jack’s family (his mom, dad and elder sister) quickly shifted gears upon his diagnosis. Their focus now, they say, is on making memories with Jack, raising funds through their Backing Jack campaign to support his treatment, and supporting research into finding a cure for DMD.
You can visit the Backing Jack Facebook page set up by Jack’s parents to learn more about this special little boy.
Sam trains for Kilimanjaro
Sam, one of our Kilimanjaro climbers-in-training, is a very close friend of Jack’s family. In fact, he thinks of them as his second or adoptive family. He hopes to both encourage and support the family financially through his Kilimanjaro climb.
Sam lives in the north of England, which is where he is busy with his Kilimanjaro preparation. At present his area in is lockdown to prevent the further spread of Covid-19. So instead of climbing mountains for training, he’s taken on city running. He used to dislike running, but is now learning to love it.
Who is Denbigh?
Denbigh is an electrician living on the Wirral in northwest England with his partner and newborn child.
Denbigh lost his grandad to suicide over 20 years ago. In his crowdfunding description, Denbigh bravely opens up about his grandad’s suicide as well as his own struggles with mental health.
Denbigh reveals that he had many of his own demons to battle growing up. He even wound up in prison in the UK at the age of 17, and again in Croatia at age 22. He credits becoming a dad in his mid 20s with helping him to turn his life around for the better.
Why Mental Health UK?
Denbigh writes that he is climbing Kilimanjaro:
“… in memory of my late grandad, James Patrick Manning, who took his own life, and raising money for Mental Health UK, which is a fantastic charity that helps people struggling with their mental health. Suicide is the biggest killer in men under the age of forty five and mental health effects 1 in 4 of us. I feel that people who are finding it difficult to cope with their daily lives need to know help is out there and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
While Denbigh eventually found help and was able to pick himself up and forge a better life, he wonders how different things might have been had his grandad been able to access the same sort of help.
Denbigh ends his crowdfunding appeal by writing: “By donating you will not only be giving someone who is at the very limit a helpline but you will also be helping to erase the stigma about mental health and people talking about their issues.”
This is a very worthy cause and we’re excited to be working with Denbigh to make his Kilimanjaro climb a success, hoping it will lead to great fundraising success too!
The Lemosho route
Denbigh and Sam are going to be climbing the beautiful Lemosho route up Kilimanjaro, doing the seven-day itinerary. This is one of our favourite Kilimanjaro routes, as it’s very beautiful, the scenery is varied, and it has a good acclimatisation profile. So we’re confident Sam and Denb are going to make it to the top, and we’re very excited for them!
Map of the Lemosho route
The map below shows the route they’ll be climbing to reach the roof of Africa at 5,895 m above sea level! As you can see, they follow the yellow path from the west to reach the summit of Uhuru Peak, then descend along the green Mweka route to exit the park in the south.
During the ascent, Denbigh and Sam will trek through a rainforest, then a heather zone (famous for its giant groundsels and lobelias), then a dry alpine desert zone, and, finally, an artic zone. En route, they’ll climb the great Barranco Wall. They’ll also get to see the Furtwangler Glacier near the summit.
After summiting, they’ll descend through all the zones once again, but along a different route, all the better to see more of the mountain and its surroundings. The descent takes place over just two days and is just as gruelling as the ascent.
The two men have their work cut out for them, but with the right Kilimanjaro preparation, and constant support from our well-trained Kilimanjaro mountain crew during the climb, we know they’ll manage just fine!
Support Denbigh’s and Sam’s causes
If you’d like to support either (or both!) of the wonderful causes motivating these two men to take on the great challenge that is climbing Kilimanjaro, please visit their crowdfunding pages: