Graham tackles African adventure

Graham Lowes from Shilbottle is off to climb Kilimanjaro.
Graham Lowes from Shilbottle is off to climb Kilimanjaro.

RUGBY coach Graham Lowes is about to tackle the biggest obstacle in his sporting life – one of the world’s tallest mountains.

The 39-year-old from Shilbottle will be flying out tomorrow with North East Olympian Steve Cram and ITV weathergirl Philippa Tomson for the ascent on 19,341-foot Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, as part of a team of 24 raising money for children’s charity Coco.

Graham, who works for Lloyds TSB as a senior manager and coaches at Alnwick Rugby Club at under-nine level, said: “This charity was founded 10 years ago by Steve Cram and has so far raised over £2million.

“I’ve never done anything like this before and it was through work that I got involved in it. It just seemed like a very worthy cause.”

The dad-of-two said the biggest challenge on the eight-day climb will be altitude sickness.

“Ninety-eight per cent of people who go up Kilimanjaro experience it, so I’m under no illusions that it will happen to me,” he said. “I put my hours in walking, running and in the gym, but altitude is the one thing you can’t really prepare for.”

Graham said he’s also looking forward to the trek with Olympic silver medallist Cram, who he describes as ‘very down-to-earth’.

“The dynamic in the group is very good and Steve has been very supportive during our four group get-togethers so far,” he said. “The fact that he is such an accomplished athlete is an inspiration to the rest of us.”

Although Graham has exceeded his target of £4,000, he is still accepting donations. The money will go towards projects for disadvantaged children across the world, some of whom the group will visit while in Tanzania.

Anyone wishing to donate can do so by visiting www.justgiving.com/grahamlowes