Council worker follows Chris Moyles and Cheryl Cole to the top of the world!

FREEZING temperatures, sleepless nights and a trek up Africa’s highest mountain – not an everyday occurrence for a council worker!

But for Karina McLoughlin, who works in the Council Tax department at Uttlesford District Council, that was the case when she took part in a fundraising expedition to Tanzania to climb the 20,000ft high Mount Kilimanjaro.

Mrs McLoughlin was part of a 22-strong group aiming to raise �150,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support. It is a charity particularly close to her heart and one she has close connections with.

“I got involved with Macmillan in memory of my grandparents,” she said. “I lost my paternal grandmother in 2007, my maternal grandmother in 2008 and last year my paternal grandfather. We had the charity’s support through nurses and advice, which helped my family and me through a very tough time.”

Mrs McLoughlin’s association with Macmillan started in May 2009 when she joined 54 other trekkers on the Inca Trail. As a group they raised �180,000 for the charity.

With the adventurous bit between her teeth, she decided to continue her fundraising efforts and chose the Kilimanjaro Challenge after seeing a hearty group of celebrities – including Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles, Take That legend Gary Barlow, X-Factor presenter Cheryl Cole and actress and presenter Denise Van Outen – tackle the mountain for Comic Relief in 2009.

“It really spurred me on even more and I must admit that the TV show made it look a lot easier than it actually is,” said Mrs McLoughlin, who prepared for the challenge with a 12-day trek in the Annapurna Circuit in the Himalayas last March, as well as many walks and gym sessions.

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“It was an amazing trek but the hardest thing I have ever done. Many days were spent trekking over seven hours in a barren, misty landscape where we had to keep team moral up.

“There was one point where I was so cold and tired that I thought I would have to turn around. Thankfully we had a great support team who were there on hand to help us at all times.

“And I am so happy and proud of myself for making the summit and for the team as a whole,” she said. “We were a family up there and remain close friends with many plans to have future gatherings and adventures.

“I plan to continue fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support and hope to walk part of the Great Wall of China in September 2012 for the charity. I have also decided to start training for a mountain leadership qualification which will enable me to lead groups of people on treks.”

So far the group has raised over �135,000 - has until the end of March to hit the their target - with Mrs McLoughlin dragging in �3400. You can still sponsor her by visiting