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26 April 2016

Paralympian Aaron Phipps to scale Africa's highest peak

Aaron Phipps and 20,000 foot Mount Kilimanjaro

HE’S the Hampshire sporting hero who took part in London 2012 Paralympic Games after losing both legs to meningitis.


Now wheelchair rugby star Aaron Phipps is preparing for his greatest challenge – scaling Africa’s highest peak in a bid to raise at least £20,000 for charity.


Aaron is determined to reach the top of the 20,000 ft Mount Kilimanjaro in an all-terrain wheelchair known as a Mountain Trike.


His five-day trek to the summit aims to raise vital cash for Meningitis Research Foundation and the Shaw Trust, which helps disabled people find work.


Aaron, 33, of Totton, said: “The foundation asked me if I would be interested and at the time I didn’t really think about the fact that I’d be in a wheelchair. The main problem will be the altitude. Getting myself up a hill while not being able to breathe very easily is going to be really tough.”


His offroad conveyance is equipped with a lever drive system that will enable Aaron to propel himself forward without clutching the wheels, thus keeping his hands clean and dry.


He is planning to attempt the Rongai route, which is flatter than the alternatives and also sees less rain.

Aaron will spend a week completing altitude training in the Alps before meeting his support team in Amsterdam on May 13 and flying to Kilimanjaro airport.


They plan to limber up by trekking through the local rain-forest before beginning the main challenge.


As reported in the Daily Echo, Aaron lost both legs below the knees, plus the tips of his fingers, after contracting meningitis in 1999. He felt unwell on his first day back at school after the Christmas holidays and collapsed at home.


His mother spotted a rash on his chest and did the “tumbler test” to check for meningitis. When the spots did not fade under pressure she realised Aaron was dangerously ill.


“An hour later I was on a life-support machine,” he said.


Anyone wishing to sponsor him can go online and visit justgiving.com/Aaronphippskili/.


Determined to overcome his disability, he started competing in wheelchair racing in 2007. He was introduced to wheelchair rugby and two years later represented Team GB at the 2012 Paralympics.