In 2022, Morson Group Training Director Matthew Leavis, around 40 supporters and Morson Forces ambassador Andy Reid MBE will be attempting a mammoth undertaking.
They are planning to summit Kilimanjaro.
In conjunction with Andy’s charity, the Standing Tall Foundation, the expedition is set to take place in March 2022 and will see triple-amputee Andy try to re-conquer a summit that he last stood at the top of in 1999.
Matt, under the name ‘The Kiliclimber’, has been raising sponsorship money and awareness through events including a Family Fun Day on 11th September and a gala dinner, set to take place early next year.
We caught up with Matt and Andy to find out the reasons behind the challenge:
Matthew: So Andy, Kilimanjaro 2022, why?
Andy:It’s a good question. Any time I finish a challenge, whatever it may be - a 400-mile bike ride or 125 mile kayak like I’ve done before, people say, Andy what’s next? I always say I’m going to have a week off if I can, this is the last challenge I’m doing. Then these ideas come to you. The thing is with the foundation now I know that there is a need. Young adults that are trying to take their own life and are suffering with anxiety and depression, and there’s a need to be able to provide council support for those people. By doing the climb like this, it’s going to raise a lot of awareness for the foundation and hopefully it’ll raise a lot of money too, so we can provide this service for young people and for veterans. Obviously, the recent news with Afghanistan, some veterans feel it was a waste of time and they lost their limbs and got mental health problems for nothing. The demand for mental health support is massive now.
Matthew: Can you tell me a bit more about the charity itself. We know that it offers support for veterans and men and women from the forces, where did the idea come from for the charity?
Andy: Over the last ten years since being injured, I’ve been doing all kind of things for armed forces charities and civilian charities as well. There’s a massive demand for this kind of support that we’re offering, so I just want to do something in my own community. I got given the MBE in 2019, so I’ve had the pat on the back for my charity work that I’ve done. I’m not doing this to gain recognition for myself, I’m doing this because it’s the right thing to do and that’s the charity’s motto.
Matthew: Kilimanjaro, obviously I’ve been roped in to helping you! A late-night Instagram conversation turned into, yeah you know what I’ll do it. I was quite motivated by the discussion; you were taking it on with the obvious challenges you were going to face. It’s great to be on board to support. What’s the target for the fundraising? Obviously, we have a lot of events like the ones I’m running this weekend and a big black-tie ball next year. What’s the number we’d love to get to?
Andy: That number would be a million pounds wouldn’t it! If that’s not achievable then it’s not achievable, if we’d raise anything between £50,000 and £100,000 that would go a long way to supporting the people that we want to support at the Standing Tall Foundation. The money side of it would be great but for me, it’s about raising awareness for the foundation. But then, it’s a catch-22 because the more awareness we raise, the more people come to us for support, then the more funds we need to support those people. So, there’s a balance between them both, there’s a 50/50 balance between raising awareness and raising funds.
Matthew: So, should we say £250,000 by the end of next year?
Andy: That’d be nice wouldn’t it! I climbed the mountain in 1999, it was a lit bit easier as I had all my limbs then, but mentally I know I can do it as I’ve done it before. Physically it’s going to be a whole different challenge, but for me it’s also about showing other disabled people what they can achieve with the right mindset.
Matthew: I think that’s what I found really motivating is that you were willing to take this challenge on because and no offense, I thought if you can do this, I can definitely do it. I really hope by being part of this with you and I hope that we can raise awareness. It’s a great opportunity to raise awareness and hopefully hit that £250,000 mark.
Andy: 100%, the team that we’ve got going and we’ve got a lot of big corporates involved and they send people like yourself on their behalf to get involved and you’ve drawn the short straw Matt you’re doing it for Morson! We’ve got other organisations involved as well, such as JMW solicitors, Alexia housing, and all kinds of other organisations are involved as well. For me what’s really special, Claire Weeks, who is my physio who has worked with me since I first got injured in 2009, she’s one of the people that got me walking and got me moving forward with my life. It’s very important that she will be supporting me on this next journey as well. Vicky Bateman, who makes my legs and gets me mobile on a daily basis is going to be there as well. For me to give these people recognition and taking them on this journey is going to be fantastic.
Matthew: I can’t wait, I look forward to what next year brings for us all!
To follow the latest updates on The Kili Climber, follow him on Facebook here
For the latest news on the Standing Tall Foundation, click here