NOVICE mountaineer Richard Langdon isn’t opting for a quiet retirement, having set his sights on conquering one of the world’s highest peaks.
The 65-year-old former solicitor is preparing his challenge on Africa’s 19,000-foot Mount Kilimanjaro next year and it’s all to raise thousands of pounds for a Durham City hospice.
Richard, pictured, who once ran his own legal practice, has been promised more than £11,000 for St Cuthbert’s Hospice and the fund is set to go even higher as pledges continue to roll in.
He was given a £5,000 boost this week by Durham’s Freemen, at a presentation in the city’s town hall.
Despite never having climbed a mountain before, Richard has hardly chosen the easy option for his debut attempt.
Temperatures on Kilimanjaro’s peak can drop to -15˚C even in summer and one of the biggest problems faced by climbers is the risk of altitude sickness, which can strike even those most experienced adventurer.
Unbowed, the grandfather of six, of Sherburn Village, is enthusiastic about his upcoming endeavour.
He said: “For five days we will be walking between six and seven hours a day. Good levels of fitness and stamina are needed and I’m training at my local gym daily.
“I think it will be more a question of mind over matter. I’m told the older you are, the chances of being struck by the altitude diminish.”
Richard has been involved as a St Cuthbert’s volunteer for 18 years, but has never been part of its physical fund-raising challenges.
Now, he is keen to change that. “Since I retired I felt the time was right to have a go. I have been humbled by the tremendous response to my appeal.”
During the past six years the Freemen have given more than £60,000 to worthy causes in Durham.
John Heslop, who chairs the eight guilds representing 140 Freemen, said: “The hospice does a fantastic job for the people of Durham. We are delighted to help by sponsoring Richard’s expedition.”
Lucy Baxter, the hospice’s development manager, added, “The fund-raising Richard has done has been fantastic. We would like to thank everyone, especially the City of Durham Freemen, for their incredible generosity.”
Dormant volcano’s three peaks
KILIMANJARO is a dormant volcano in Tanzania and the highest mountain in Africa at 19,341 feet above sea level.
It is a giant stratovolcano that began forming a million years ago, when lava spilled from the Rift Valley zone. Two of its three peaks, Mawenzi and Shira, are extinct while Kibo (the highest peak) is dormant and could erupt again. The last major eruption has been dated to 360,000 years ago.