A pair of mental health charity volunteers from Perth have completed one of the hardest challenges of their lives by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to spread the message, “it’s okay to talk”.
Alex McClintock and Adam Allison, founders of Andy’s Man Club Perth, returned from their week-long expedition on Monday night, after reaching the 5,9850 metre Uhuru Peak.
They took on Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, with seven others from Andy’s Man clubs in England. They were among only five who made it to the summit.
Alex said: “It was harder than either of us thought it was going to be.
“Physically, mentally and emotionally, it was one of the hardest things either of us have ever done.
“We are really chuffed that we got to the top but it was a slog. We are all affected by the altitude in some way, from sickness and diarrhoea to being unable to walk and we all had to be helped off the mountain in some way.
“I’m still feeling the effects now. I feel like I’ve been on the drink for a week, it’s like a constant hangover.
“The mental side of it was the hardest part though, I’m not ashamed to say we were all in tears at one point or another.
“Being isolated from friends and family was hard but we knew everyone was behind us 100%.”
Andy’s Man Club was set up two years ago in memory of Andy Roberts, a 23-year-old father-of-one from Halifax who committed suicide.
Alex, 44, and Adam, 54, are both physical education instructors at HMP Perth and initially set up the Fair City branch to provide mental health support to prisoners.
One year later, it has 70 members and weekly meetings are held every Monday at McDiarmid Park.
More than £85,000 was raised by the clubs to fund the trip and anything left over will be put into the charity’s funds.
But the venture also provided invaluable international exposure for the charity’s work.
Alex said: “For us it was never about the money, it was always about raising awareness and we have definitely achieved that.
“We had so many positive conversations on the way up the mountain with people from all over the world.
“We met guys from Vancouver and Tanzania who want to set up Andy’s Man Clubs, which would be the first ones outside the UK.”
The success will be celebrated with a party at McDiarmid Park at the end of this month, which will also belatedly mark the Perth club’s first anniversary in September.
“We were really busy preparing for Kilimanjaro in September so we decided to have a joint celebration instead,” Alex said.
“We have managed to get the venue, food and music free thanks to the generous people of Perth.
“It has been really humbling to see everyone get behind us since we set up the branch last year. We have gone from strength to strength so we wanted to do something to celebrate, as well as give something back to everyone who has supported us.”
Free tickets can be reserved at eventbrite.com/e/amc-birthday-bash-go-mental-for-mental-health-month-tickets-50327560087?aff=ebdssbdestsearch.
Donations to Andy’s Man Club can be made at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/andysmanclub-kilimanjaro?utm_id=120.