SAMMIE Haigh says climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was the hardest thing she has ever had to do.
But raising almost £5,000 in memory of her best friend Tess Hallam, who died after contracting meningitis, has made it all worth it.
The 26-year-old from East Street in Fareham almost didn’t make it to the top of the mountain after suffering severe altitude sickness and she was in agony as her calf muscles struggled to cope with the steep incline.
But with a lot of hard work, Sammie made it to the summit, raising thousands for the Meningitis Trust along the way.
‘I can honestly say it was the hardest thing I have ever done,’ she said.
‘I still can’t believe that I made it and so many people didn’t.
‘On the actual summit night itself, we left camp in darkness at 1am.
‘It was freezing and as we got higher and higher we felt more and more sick, dizzy and the intensity of our headaches got worse.
‘From that point I had really had enough, the pain in my legs from walking at such an incline was excruciating.
‘That last leg was so hard, I had pushed through so many pain barriers, but the look on my team-mates’ faces when I came round the corner pushed me on, they couldn’t believe I had made it. The sense of achievement is truly worth it.’
Tess died in March 2010 at the age of just 23.
After her death, Sammie decided she wanted to try to raise awareness about meningitis, to make people aware of the symptoms and to try and prevent anyone else suffering like Tess did.
‘I am so proud of myself for actually seeing something through to the end which has caused me so much physical pain,’ she added.
‘I will never forget my experience, the friends I have made, the amazing people of Tanzania or my friend, Tess, who really was worth the effort.
‘She would be super proud knowing that I had done it for her.’
To make a donation, please visit virginmoneygiving.com/sammiehaigh