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Sky's the limit in Jeff's fundraising goal

11 March 2013 @TeesUniNews


Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling will swap the TV studio for the thin air of Mount Kilimanjaro in June when he joins former football stars Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett in a massive fundraising effort.

The trio will be part of a group of 15 intrepid explorers who will attempt to reach the 4,895m summit of Africa’s highest mountain to raise vital cash for the Finlay Cooper Fund in aid of children’s charities.

The Fund was set up by former Middlesbrough, Millwall and Nottingham Forest defender Cooper and his wife Julie in memory of their son, Finlay, who died in a tragic choking accident shortly before his second birthday 10 years ago.

Hartlepool-born Stelling, who has run the London Marathon eight times, expects one of the toughest tests of his life in trekking up to 13 hours a day to reach the top of the Tanzanian mountain, walking through five climate zones from temperatures ranging from 30 degrees to a frostbiting -15.

Teesside University is supporting the mission with training and advice from the Sport Science Service using the excellent facilities at the University.

An environmental chamber in the University’s School of Social Sciences & Law recreates the adverse climates trekkers can expect during the climb and an altitude tent which will allow them to experience air pressures so high above sea level.

Only 45% of trekkers usually make it to the top, so it essential their bodies are able to acclimatise to the conditions. Trekkers get just 10 minutes at the peak because of the risks of altitude sickness.

Jeff, a lifelong Hartlepool United fan, who will be 58 later this month, is calling on viewers of his popular Gillette Soccer Saturday show to sponsor him and his fellow trekkers.

No doubt he will be taking advice from his Sky Sports colleague Chris Kamara, who climbed Kilimanjaro two years ago as part of a group of famous football faces that included Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson.

Former England defender Cooper, who is now youth team coach at Middlesbrough, said: ‘This is the Fund’s biggest, most ambitious fundraising effort to date and we’re absolutely delighted that a national name such as Jeff has agreed to join us.

‘While it will no doubt be an incredible experience, this will be an absolutely massive effort by all those taking part because the altitude makes progress increasingly difficult even for the fittest of people. ‘Our goal is not only to reach the top but to raise as much funds for the children’s charities as we possibly can, so we’re calling on the generosity of football fans and the general public.’

Among those joining Stelling, Cooper and his ex-Middlesbrough team-mate Hignett are two of the Fund’s trustees, chartered accountant Nick Waites and former Middlesbrough FC commercial manager Graham Fordy, now in charge of UK sales for Italian kit manufacturer Errea.

Also heading for Africa are Middlesbrough fans Andy Gunn, Tony Dye, Phil Dinsdale, Chris Masterson, Stephen Ainsley, Newcastle supporter Dave Rowlands, plus Millwall supporter Jason Pickering. The group will fly out to Africa on June 7 and hope to reach the summit on June 14.

They will attempt to reach the peak during a six-hour climb in darkness on the seventh day of an eight-day trek, climbing by torchlight before hopefully reaching the summit in time for the morning sunlight to give them spectacular views across the plains below.

Previous fundraising events by the Finlay Cooper Fund have included a recent sell-out dinner at Hardwick Hall starring ex-Boro stars Andy Townsend and Dean Windass, which raised £13,000, while thousands was raised by sponsored runners in both the Middlesbrough 5k Riverside Run and the SABIC Tees Pride 10k.

More than £9,000 was raised last year via two football games. First, fans of Boro and Millwall took part in an annual game that starred Windass and the ex-defender, while fans bid up to £400 each to take part in a second charity game alongside former Riverside heroes George Boateng, Gaizka Mendieta, Alan Moore and Curtis Fleming.

To sponsor Jeff and his fellow Kilimanjaro trekkers visit

In the News

Former Middlesbrough footballers train with specialist equipment before mountain challenge
Darlington & Stockton Times (Web), 17/04/2013; Northern Echo (Web), 17/04/2013
A pair of former Middlesbrough footballers have been taking advantage of specialist training facilities while they prepare for a charity fundraising event. They are being offered training and advice f

Jeff Stelling among group heading to Mount Kilimanjaro for Finlay Cooper Fund
Gazette Live (Web), 12/03/2013; Evening Gazette, 12/03/2013, p.9; Middlesbrough FC (Web), 12/03/2013; BBC 1 North East, Look North, 12/03/2013, 18:46:35; (Web), 13/03/2013
Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling and former Boro stars Craig Hignett and Colin Cooper are among a group of 15 intrepid explorers who will head to Mount Kilimanjaro in June. They will be attempting t

Sky Sports presenter and ex Boro players plan Kilimanjaro trek
Northern Echo (Web), 11/03/2013; Darlington & Stockton Times (Web), 11/03/2013
A group of celebrity climbers who are scaling Kilimanjaro for charity later this year were given a taste of things to come when they were exposed to a snowy Riverside Stadium. Former Middlesbrough pla