Tany's Father

When Tanya Hodges was a young woman her father Raymond sadly passed away. He had served all over the world for over 20 years in the Royal Navy, and the stories he told her about his travels made a huge impression on her.

Tanya now works on a daily basis with ex-members of the armed forces, as part of her role as Security Trainer at Gatwick Airport, a job she enjoys immensely.

Additionally, Tanya has raised £2,800 for the military charity PTSD Resolution and is aiming to achieve £3,000 by the end of 2018. She is an Ambassador for the charity and plans to continue to raise much-needed funds, in support of its programme of free mental health therapy for Veterans, which has a 78% success rate.

Part of the training programmes Tanya delivers at Gatwick includes how to manage physical injuries. However, she recognised several years ago the need for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) awareness to be included into the coaching sessions she was delivering. So she went about doing some research into PTSD, which is how she found out about PTSD Resolution. As a direct result of her research, the nationwide syllabus for the Civil Aviation Authority now includes mental health.

For the past two years Tanya has used the information she has gained from the charity and has included a section on PTSD within the training sessions, sometimes recommending the charity to those who have needed some support, always in a non-judgemental way.

Wanting to raise money for the charity and in memory of her Dad, Tanya set herself the goal of ascending the mountain of Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania. Kilimanjaro is a massive 5,895 meters (19,347 feet) high.

Tanya set about an extensive training programme including walking the West Highland Way, trekking in Jordan, Romania, Morocco, Snowdon, and the Brecon Beacons, as well as regular gym sessions to get much needed leg miles in.

Her climb started on 6th September 2018, and to enable time to acclimatise to the reduced oxygen levels, the journey to the summit took 5 ½ days of slow and steady walking, in temperatures as low as minus 15C, requiring a lot of cold weather kit and mental as well as physical effort to keep going.
Kilimanjaro Diary

Tanya kept a diary and here's an excerpt from it:

"We left the first gate on Friday the 7th September and reached our base camp at midday on the 12th September. We slept until 9pm, had dinner then started the climb to the summit at 11.30pm. I was wearing five layers on my top half, three pairs of trousers, two pairs of gloves, two hats and two pairs of socks. All we had at night was our head torches leading the way and watching the person's feet in front slowly walking. The night was so long, I had no concept of time until I started to see the colour of the skyline change. I was very out of breath, dehydrated as my water had frozen hours earlier and cold from the temperatures we were walking in.

"At 06.30 on the 13th September we reached Stella point at 5,756m. Watching the sunrise over Africa was truly magical but we still had an hour and a half to reach the official summit, Uhuru peak at 5,895m. At 08.15 I reached the summit of Kilimanjaro, the world's highest freestanding mountain.

"All through the night when I was finding it hard and battling not to vomit, I reminded myself of my dad and all the people I would be helping with the money I raised. It kept me going. I just put one foot in front of the other.

"From the summit I had a very long descent down loose scree, helped by a porter to arrive back to base camp at midday. We rested for a few hours, and then headed further down to spend our last night on the mountain. The last day was filled with singing and dancing with all our crew, before our final descent back to the main gate, through rainforest arriving at 1pm.

Slowly Does It

"Kilimanjaro has five different climatic zones, you start in cultivation, then rainforest, move into heather moorland, alpine dessert then summit in artic conditions. The weather was quite changeable and the effects of altitude include: severe headaches, disorientated, sickness, loss of appetite - all quite unpleasant, but manageable, if you acclimatise slowing and go "pole-pole" (Swahili for slowly-slowly). Some of our party needed helicopter evacuation and oxygen, which was pretty scary to witness.

"Once we got back to the lodge on the 14th of September we headed straight for the bar to have a Kilimanjaro cold beer! Then the longest shower of my life with two hair washes!

"I then got onto Wi-Fi and was able to give the fantastic news to everyone that we made it all the way to the summit.

"That night we had our celebration dinner, more beers and were awarded with our certificates by Jimmy our tour leader. He has summited over 200 times! We had a team of 36 porters, four guides, a latrine man, chef, waiter and camp manager. They were truly remarkable and we would never of got up that mountain or indeed down it, without them. I left my PTSDR t-shirt with one of the porters to wear as they continue to trek up and down the mountain.

"The whole experience was life changing and amazing. Seeing the sun rising over Africa it was hard to tell where the glaciers stopped and the clouds began".