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Rugby friends conquer Kilimanjaro

Four friends from Kenfig Hill RFC in South Wales have conquered the world’s highest free standing mountain to raise vital funds for leading Welsh prostate charity, Prostate Cymru.

The mountain victors were Chris Leyshon (22), Ben Jones (22), Michael Guy (29), and Stephen Smith (34), all from Kenfig Hill, Bridgend.

At 5,895 metres (19,341 ft) above sea level, the arduous hike has been described as the hardest thing the lads have encountered, both physically but mentally. On the final day of the summit climb they left camp at midnight, arriving at the top at around 7am, in temperatures of around minus 15. The team’s camel packs and drinks froze, meaning there was a considerably limited water supply until sunrise.

In the 10 months leading up to the event, the rugby union team reached the phenomenal total of £21,592 raised for the charity. Whilst training for this adventure they organised a large number of fundraising events, including everything from bucket collections to a ‘Ladies Night’.

The group also organised ‘The Big Walk’, from the Millennium Stadium to Kenfig Hill RFC (29 miles), and a Sevens touch rugby tournament. Both occasions were excellent fundraisers, with £9000 raised on the day of the Big Walk alone, and plans are in place to make the fundraisers annual events in the future. The four friends have received incredible support from the local community in Bridgend for their fundraising efforts, and have produced a video showcasing the events and good luck messages from footballer Matt Le Tissier and the cast of ‘Stella’.

Kenfig Hill RFC as an organisation is a staunch supporter of Prostate Cymru and has been since its inception, thanks to Prostate Cymru patron and ex Cardiff RFC rugby player Ray Giles, who inspired the boys to undertake this challenge.

To prepare for the big climb in Tanzania, the rugby boys trained with treks at Wales’ highest peaks, Snowdon, Pen Y Fan, and Cadair Idris. In addition the lads attended the gym up to 5 times a week and trained twice a week with their rugby squad.

Leader of the expedition Chris Leyshon said, “We’re all so proud to have undertaken the challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro for such a worthy charity. It was emotional for many who reached the top of Uhuru peak, the highest summit point and was an experience I will never forget. The views were unbelievable and to think that all the hard work we put into the fundraising had paid off towards the effort we put in to reach the top. We’re over the moon with the support we’ve received along the way.”

Prostate Cymru is mainly a voluntary group dedicated to fighting Prostate Cancer, procuring equipment and raising awareness throughout Wales. Founded in 2003, Prostate Cymru has grown from strength to strength over the last decade; holding events, fundraisers, procuring services and equipment, raising awareness and lobbying for improvements in men’s prostate healthcare.

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