Adventurers took on one of the toughest physical challenges of their life and climbed Africa's highest peak to fundraise for an East Oxford-based charity.

Nine trekkers from Oxfordshire participated in an annual climb Mount Kilimanjaro and raised £48,000 for Helen & Douglas House – a hospice for terminally ill babies, children and their families.

After months of preparation, the mountaineers travelled to the Kilimanjaro Region and after five days of climbing in wet, snowy and freezing conditions, they made it to its summit on October 17.

One of the trekkers is Mike Illingworth from Witney.

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He is the father of twin boys, Ben and Ollie, who were cared for by Helen & Douglas House.

They were born with MPS – Sanfilippo 111A, a life-shortening metabolism disorder that delays development and causes significant neurological symptoms.

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Mr Illingworth lost both his sons to the condition and is now raising £10,000 for the hospice.

He described the challenge as a fantastic way to achieve a personal goal whilst helping to raise money and awareness for the organisation.

He said: "I wanted to climb Kilimanjaro for Helen & Douglas House in memory of my sons Ben and Ollie who used the hospice, to give something back for all the great work they did for my family and all of the families who rely on the service they provide.

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"Thanks to the generosity of all the people who have supported me in this trek, this helped push me on, as well as supporting the charity in these difficult financial times."

Mr Illingworth has raised £7,762 so far and hopes to reach his target by the end of the year.

After drastic cuts Douglas House, the hospice for young adults, closed in June last year but Helen House remains opened.

Other fundraising events, as the hospice's Bubble Rush in Cutteslowe Park and the Santas on the Run event, raise thousands of pounds annually for the specialist care organisation.

Sabine Schwaebisch, a learning disability nurse at the charity, also took part in the Kilimanjaro trek, joined by her friend Adeline Daly.

Ms Schwaebisch, who has been working at Helen & Douglas House for seven years, sees first-hand how the money raised from the challenge helps local families.

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The nurse, who also ran the Oxford half Marathon in 2017 to raise money for the charity, said the trek climb was much harder than she expected due to adverse weather.

She added: "We made it to the summit despite the conditions.

"We had a freak blizzard which only lasted for the night of us summiting to the top, which meant conditions were extremely difficult on top of the very challenging altitude. It was the coldest, longest and hardest night of our lives, but by supporting each other we managed to get to the top."

I prepared physically and mentally for a whole year."

The two friends have raised £7,822 of their £8,000 target.

The charity, which opened in 1982, also cares for young people across Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire, Wiltshire and parts of London.