Like with many events, the pandemic has meant that our Mount Kilimanjaro Challenge will now be going ahead in September 2022 and we a thrilled that two of our very own Health Care Assistants will be making their way to Tanzania in just under a years’ time.

This epic, 10-day adventure will see Bethany Harris and Leanne Archer trekking across lush rainforests, sweeping moorlands, and of course, the panoramic heights offered by the tallest mountain in Africa, alongside the rest of our extreme fundraisers. 

Admiringly nicknamed the ‘Kili Queens’ by their colleagues, we caught up with Beth and Leanne to find out how they’re getting on with their fundraising and training ahead of this once in a lifetime experience: 

Speaking about her motivation for signing up to our Kili Challenge, Leanne jokes “I completely blame Beth for talking me into taking on Kilimanjaro!” 

“I often tell her than I will either love her or hate her at the end of it, depending on how much my body aches when we finish it! We spoke about signing up and after doing a bit of research, I began to get quite excited about the opportunity to do something once in a lifetime like this, so we took the leap and signed up. 

“Aside for the bragging rights I’ll have after conquering the mountain, my main reason for taking on Kilimanjaro is the children and families we support. Every single one of them is so inspirational!” 

Leanne continues “I love the outdoors and walking, but I have never dreamed about doing anything on this scale”. 

Together Beth and Leanne have set themselves smaller challenges, in a bid to raise some pennies and hit their fundraising targets; completing a 24-hour Car Challenge, parking outside the Kent Hospice, later followed by a walking marathon from Bearstead to Lenham and back again. 

Despite completing a walking marathon, Leanne shares “I would love to say that I made a training plan that I have stuck to, but that would be a huge lie!” 

“When I first signed up, I was going for long walks most days (making sure I included hills) and took up running again. I even climbed my stairs 405 times in one day (…never again).” 

Signing up to an extreme challenge of this nature of course requires a huge level of commitment and drive and the postponements over the past year have meant that it has been even more of a challenge for Beth and Leanne to remain motivated with their training.  

Of course, having a network of supporters around you works wonders, Leanne tells us: “My friends and family think I’m completely bonkers! But they have been fantastic in supporting me with the fundraising side of things. I’ve not been able to convince any of them to walk up and down hills with me for training though”. 

Beth recently kickstarted her training again, challenging herself to conquer Mount Snowdon: “I thought I would start my training again with a bang and my goodness it was hard! Up until I got to the summit I was thinking of the children we care for everyday and how every day for them is just as tough, if not harder than climbing a mountain. It was their faces in my mind that got me to the top. 

“When I signed up to climb Kilimanjaro two years ago I wanted to complete my biggest fundraising challenge yet, and I could not think of a better charity to do it for. Demelza won my heart over on day one, the children we care for made me realise a 10-day climb was so worth it if it meant I could raise money to maintain the care we give.”  

Speaking about the young people she supports at Demelza, Leanne tells us “I’ve told a few of our young people about the challenge. One child was really interested and we spent ages researching Tanzania as part of his ‘Demelza Home School’, finding out facts about Kilimanjaro and what animals live in Tanzania. 

“On the opposite end, one of our cheekier teenagers said ‘Are you stupid!?’… but she always checks that I’m doing my training and fundraising”. 

To anyone thinking of taking on an extreme Demelza Challenge, Leanne has this advice: “I think the most important thing is to remember is that it’s not just the challenge you are taking on, but the fundraising as well. I would also recommend having a buddy to do it with - I couldn’t imagine having to prepare for Kilimanjaro on my own, so I’m very lucky to have Beth do it with.” 

“And on a final note - Thank you so much to everyone who has supported us both so far.  We couldn’t have raised so much without you all!” 

If you would like to support Leanne and Beth with their charity challenge, you can do so by visiting their joint fundraising page: