Local sisters Hollie and Jessica facing mountainous challenge

Sisters Jessica and Hollie Cowdean from Lambeg getting ready to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. US1511-544cd  Picture: Cliff Donaldson
Sisters Jessica and Hollie Cowdean from Lambeg getting ready to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. US1511-544cd Picture: Cliff Donaldson

Sisters Jessica and Hollie Cowdean are preparing for the challenge of a lifetime when they will face the daunting task of scaling one of the highest peaks in the world, Mount Kilimanjaro.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, which rises 19,340 feet above sea level, would be a challenge for anyone but for Hollie and Jessica, who live in Lambeg, the challenge is even greater, as both suffer from scolioses of the spine.

The brace that Hollie has to wear 23 hours a day

The brace that Hollie has to wear 23 hours a day

Hollie (14) wears a full torso spinal brace for 23 hours a day and 15 year-old Jessica is recovering from major surgery in December, which fitted two titanium rods and 21 screws into her spine.

They will trek for six or seven days and will then spend two days helping in an orphanage and several schools that the organiser ‘Kilimanjaro achievers’ help to fund.

There will be medical staff going with the girls headed by Dr Padraig Sheeran from Dublin, who set up the group ‘Kimimanjaro Achievers’. This is vital as the girls in the team, which include three others from Northern Ireland, all have scoliosis and are either pre-op or post-op regarding their spinal surgery. Despite this, the sisters are determined to take on the uphill struggle with Kilimanjaro Achievers and will be setting off for Africa’s highest peak this August.

The girls will be training extensively and will be climbing mountains in Ireland, including Slieve Donard in Newcacstle.

They will also be fundraising for the trip between now and the summer and their mother, Elizabeth, has said their school has been particularly supportive.

“Hunterhouse have been fantastic,” said Elizabeth. “They are planning to have a non-uniform day, hold cake sales and have lots of 
events to raise money for the climb.”

As well as funding the climb, money will also be raised to help charities in the African region.

Kilimanjaro Achiever supports a number of charities in the Tanzania, including the Cheti Orphanage in Arusha, the work of the Lion Guardians Project and the Maasai village Ololoiboshi in the Longido district.

If you would like to support the girls or offer donations, contact Elizabeth Cowdean at elizabethcowdean@hotmail.co.uk.