Seven days to the top of the world for It’s OK To Say

Stacey took on Mount Kilimanjaro to raise awareness of It's OK To Say and money for Cancer Research

Stacey took on Mount Kilimanjaro to raise awareness of It's OK To Say and money for Cancer Research UK. Picture: Stacey Turner - Credit: Archant

A determined mental health campaigner ascended to the peak of the Africa’s highest mountain to raise awareness for causes close to her heart.

Mum of two Stacey Turner, 40, founder of the It's OK To Say campaign, scaled the slopes of Kilimanjaro with the dual aim of promoting better mental health and raising funds for Cancer Research UK (CRUK).

She launched It's OK To Say in partnership with the Herts Advertiser to encourage people of all ages to speak out about mental illness, confide in others and surround themselves with supportive networks, and has just finished applying for charity status.

Stacey said she was inspired to climb the 16,100ft mountain after watching the 2009 Comic Relief ascent, and was accompanied by her friend Clare Delaney, who works as a fundraising manager for CRUK.

The ascent took seven days to complete, with the final push from base camp to the summit completed in just seven hours. Unfortunately high winds meant her time on Uhuru Peak was limited by high winds, and she faced a further five hours travelling back to the ground.

She told the Herts Ad: "Reaching camp each night was something to celebrate, it was amazing how quickly I started adapting myself, my perspective changed daily, grounding myself, mindfully immersed in the pure beauty, the ever-changing terrain, Kilimanjaro National Park is truly magnetic.

"I adored getting to know the guides, slowing down deliberately to listen intently to their tales of growing up in the local villages.

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"You really learn the meaning behind 'it takes a village to raise a child', feeling helpless with the hardship.

"I knew my limits daily and adapted myself accordingly with the help of my guides.

"On a good day, I was stubbornly determined to carry my own bag and others, I had to give in and was forced to let them carry for me.

"Your well-being becomes their utmost importance taking great pride in ensuring all your needs are met - nothing is too much trouble.

"Together, the guides and porters become part of your Kilimanjaro family roughing and toughing it with you ready to catch you if you fall lending a hand, often a shoulder when I felt unsteady.

"There were some moments when I thought, it will be a miracle if I make it! I would acknowledge it, adjust my kit, my thoughts and mindfully focus on my breathing.

"There were other moments when I walked ahead crying and couldn't turn to face anyone, and there were moments when I lagged deliberately not wanting this extraordinary and lifechanging journey to end.

"There were moments I celebrated quietly and many, many moments I embraced the magic of this legendary mountain on my mission to summit."