Five daring celebrities are celebrating after battling torrential rain and thunderstorms to reach the summit of Borneo’s highest mountain peak and raise money for Barnardo’s.
TV personality Lydia Bright, Made in Chelsea’s Sam Thompson and James Dunmore, astronomer Mark Thompson and presenter Helen Fospero swapped high heels and tuxedos for walking boots and rucksacks for the gruelling trek through the jungle before ascending 4,095m high Mount Kinabalu.
On route the intrepid group braved temperatures of up to 38 degrees Celsius combined with crippling humidity, blood-sucking leeches and scary nights in the pitch black jungle.
The celebrities and other Barnardo’s supporters, including Helen Tiffany from East Grinstead, who was a Barnardo’s baby, also took part in challenges from harvesting rice and eating jungle grubs to challenging locals to a game of Takraw, similar to football and popular in Borneo.
Along the way they learned more about how Barnardo’s supports thousands of children and young people every year. They were given a “survival pack” filled with items such as tea and suncream, and were told how Barnardo’s distributes similar kits packed with essentials such as kettles and toiletries to young people when they leave care.
In a letter written to motivate and inspire the group which was read to them in the jungle, a young carer wrote: “Barnardo’s helps me because with helping my mum, I never have time to do anything with my friends. Barnardo’s has helped me bond with new people and I’m thankful for that.”
The team hacked through the jungle to base camp, located at a height of 3,280m, before resting and then starting the testing four-hour scramble to the summit overnight.
At 4,095m, Kinabalu is almost four times as high as Mount Snowdon in North Wales.
The return trip to Kinabalu National Park in northern Borneo, which involved navigating steep inclines and treacherous conditions, was almost as challenging and exhausting.