TWO friends have been given a heroes’ welcome as they returned from a gruelling hike up Mount Kilimanjaro.
But 31-year-olds Michael Parker and Kenny Parkes, who are from Leigh Park, say the feat was not about them, but that it was done to raise the profile of Nadine Blake, who died a year ago yesterday.
Nadine, who had cystic fibrosis, was 18 when she died on March 2, 2013.
On Sunday, her family and friends held a get-together at The Swan pub in Bedhampton to raise a glass to Nadine and celebrate the return of Michael and Kenny.
‘You could not prepare yourself for something like that,’ said Michael, a supervisor at Portsmouth Demolition.
‘You cannot compare it to anything else. When you are walking up, it is like you are drunk.
‘I managed to keep going but when I got to the top, I was sick and had to be emergency skied back down.’
Michael was later told his blood oxygen level had been between 40 and 50 per cent.
‘I knew Nadine before she died and when she did pass away, we wanted to do something for her. You can do the Great South Run or that sort of thing but I looked at what would be the hardest challenge.
‘There was nothing harder that you could do than that.’
So far, the pair has raised more than £12,000.
Kenny, a football coach, added: ‘This achievement is massive for us. We are proud of what we have done.
‘But it is not about us. We raised awareness for Nadine. It is a year since she died and this event is about her.’
Since her death, Nadine’s parents Becky and Carl have been raising money for Southampton Hospital Charity.
‘Nadine wanted to open her own Just Giving page to raise money for other people but it was too much for her,’ Becky said.
‘We opened one up for her and it has raised £18,000 so far.’
To donate, visit justgiving.com/cysticfibrosisadultward.