Laura (7R) and her companions reach the summit of Africa’s highest mountain. / SUR

Irish student climbs Mount Kilimanjaro to raise awareness of meningitis

Costa del Sol resident Laura Roantree raised more than 3,000 euros for the Meningitis Research Foundation after reaching the summit of Africa’s highest mountain

Tony Bryant

Costa del Sol resident Laura Roantree has recently returned from Tanzania after successfully climbing Mount Kilimanjaro as part of a charity challenge to raise awareness and funds for the Meningitis Research Foundation.

Laura, who was accompanied by a group of 14 friends from different universities in Ireland, raised more than 3,000 euros for the foundation after reaching the summit of Africa’s highest mountain, which is 5,895 metres above sea level, in just six days.

The 22-year-old student explained that, although the hiking itself “wasn’t too difficult”, the altitude presented “significant challenges” for the group, many of who experienced headaches, nausea and fatigue.

The biggest challenge for Laura and her team was the final summit ascent, which was undertaken at night in freezing temperatures. Laura said that arriving at the summit as the sun came up was “an incredible feeling”, adding, “It makes me very proud to be able to say that I summited Kilimanjaro.”

“The experience of climbing Kilimanjaro was amazing. The views are breath-taking and the local guides and porters are extremely friendly and welcoming: the feeling of working towards the summit is so rewarding,” Laura explained.

The Dubliner was sponsored by Specsavers Ópticas in Fuengirola, who donated 500 euros to the challenge, and she also raised more than 1,000 euros through a virtual walk during the lockdown. This, combined with other sponsors and several different activities she had organised earlier this year brought the total figure to 3,174 euros.

Laura Roantree / SUR

Laura had not been aware of the issues caused by meningitis before she started to research the illness ahead of the climb, but she said it was “an eye opener” to learn how it affects people.

“I think the fact that I did not know a lot about the charity or meningitis itself highlights the help that they need in raising awareness and funds. It was only when I joined the challenge that I was told about the effects meningitis has on families and how serious it can be,” she said.

Laura said that she will now continue to raise awareness of meningitis, an illness which affects more than 2.5 million people each year.