After hearing the father of Niamh and Founder of Niamh's Next Step, Chris Curry, speak at Oundle School’s Community Action Field Weekend talks in April, three current and two former Oundle pupils, Peter Christianakis, Frankie Hunt, Alex Verge, Jamie Sherlock and Joe Waind, put their plan to climb Mount Kilimanjaro into action over the summer, reaching the highest peak and raising an impressive £5500 for the charity.
Niamh’s Next Step was set up in December 2012 after the Currys lost their amazing little girl Niamh to the childhood cancer, neuroblastoma, in May 2012.
Niamh's Dad, Founder and Chair of Niamh's Next Step, Chris Curry commented, “On behalf on Niamh's Next Step, I would like to thank Peter Christianakis, Frankie Hunt, Alex Verge, Jamie Sherlock and Joe Waind for supporting our charity and raising vital funds and awareness during their amazing achievement climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
We followed their progress on social media as they climbed and were very proud of them.
They raised an amazing amount of money for our charity and every penny will go towards funding vital research into the childhood Neuroblastoma. Thank you to the guys and to everyone who donated.”
Peter commented, “As a group we can easily say that the climb was one of the most enjoyable and most satisfying achievements of our lives, especially doing it for such a good cause.
The whole climb was very surreal with many high and lows. Our lowest point was definitely during the bitterly cold final assent where we woke up at 1am and climbed all night to be at the top for sun rise. Temperatures were minus 10 degrees at least. There would be hours of complete silence between the group as everyone was feeling so tired and suffering from altitude sickness. It also felt like it was never going to end as whenever we looked up there seemed to be more lights so far ahead from groups that were ahead of us. We had to keep a depressingly slow pace to avoid altitude sickness.
Once the sun started to come up we could finally see what we were climbing towards - it seemed so close however this was not the case! As well as the altitude sickness playing tricks on our mind we could only walk about 100m at a time and had to rest for 10 minutes because the air was so thin and everyone was so tired. However the feeling of reaching the top and looking out over the other peaks above the never ending sea of clouds is one which will be hard to beat again.
In addition to the relief of finally getting to the top, another high point was the moment when we actually reached the bottom. There was champagne waiting for us and it was at this point that it actually hit us; we realised what an amazing achievement it was and how great it felt to have done it for such a worthy cause.
At the time there were so many points when we were thinking “Will it ever end?” but looking back, it is probably one of the best things I have ever done.”
Background Information on Oundle School
Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.
The School’s history dates back to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876, the Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established Oundle’s reputation as one of the great science and engineering schools, a reputation still renowned today. In 2007, SciTec - a major and ground-breaking new science complex - opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories. The School is now embarking on a large SciTec Campus development project which will see a new Mathematics department constructed adjacent to SciTec as well as a significant upgrade to the Design and Technology department within the Patrick Engineering Centre. Due for completion in September 2016, the development will unite Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both physically and philosophically, enabling pupils to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of a workable technology. A concurrent Sports Masterplan will upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few years, including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion which opened in April 2015 and new astroturfs due to be completed this year.
There are currently 1110 pupils on roll at Oundle School, with 860 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day School for children aged 4 to 11.