Friday, 26 February 2016

Waitrose Supports Kilimanjaro for Cancer

I'm delighted to announce that Waitrose in Cobham has offered to support my Kilimanjaro climb and help me raise money for the Princess Alice Hospice through its Community Matters green token scheme throughout the month of March.

You get a green token when you buy anything in the store and can choose one of three charities to support by putting it in a collection tube on the way out. At the end of the month, Waitrose divides £1000 between the three charities in proportion to the number of tokens in each collection tube.

If you live in the area, please consider supporting this if you can.  This is the full text that Waitrose is displaying next to the collection tube:

Mount Kilimanjaro Climb for the Princess Alice Hospice

John Piears is attempting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in September to raise money for the Princess Alice Hospice in Esher, where his wife Beata spent her final weeks before she tragically died of ovarian cancer at the age of just 41.

Their mission and values
To inspire and deliver innovative palliative and end of life care to help patients, families and carers feel better, do more and cope with death and dying.

Shortly after Beata moved to the Hospice she said to me “we were so lucky to get this”. That’s how we both felt – grateful to have had access to such wonderful care in a calm and peaceful environment. Sadly the hospice  already cannot meet the demand for its services and as 75% of their funding comes from charitable donations, I want to do what I can to help them to reach out to more people in need” – John Piears

This is a link to John's fundraising website:

Sunday, 21 February 2016

15 Interesting Facts About Kilimanjaro

As part of my preparations for climbing Kilimanjaro in September I've been doing quite a bit of research.  Here are some interesting facts I've learned.

  1. At nearly 6km high (5,895m to be exact), it is the tallest freestanding mountain in the world.
  2. At the summit oxygen levels are only 9.7% compared with 21% at sea level.
  3. Temperatures at the summit can drop to -25°C at night time.
  4. A lot of people fail to reach the summit due to altitude sickness.  Some estimates put the success rate as low as 45% but most put it somewhere over 66%.
  5. Smokers cope better with altitude sickness as their bodies are used to lower oxygen levels.
  6. One of the indications that you are acclimatising well to the high altitude is passing wind!
  7. Climbing Kilimanjaro involves passing through 4 climatic zones: Rainforest, Moorland, Alpine Desert and Arctic. 
  8. The final ascent to the summit is usually made at night by head torch, to ensure that there is enough time to descend again and so you can experience sunrise from the highest point in Africa.
  9. Kilimanjaro’s peak is permanently covered in snow but the ice cap has reduced by 82% since 1962 due to climate change 
  10. Above 5000m, the atmosphere is only 45% as effective at filtering out UV light as it is at sea level, so serious sun protection is needed.
  11. There are around 3-7 deaths each year on Kilimanjaro from Acute Mountain Sickness, falls and hyperthermia.
  12. Everest Base Camp is lower than the summit of Kilimanjaro.
  13. The first person to reach the summit was a German by the name of Hans Meyer in 1889.
  14. The first Person to reach the snow line on Kilimanjaro was Charles New, a British missionary, in 1861 who took with him a party of 13 porters, all of whom were completely naked.
  15. Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano.  The last volcanic activity happened 200 years ago, but the last major eruption was 360,000 years ago.

Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me so far, your donations are going to two wonderful charities and make a difference to real people facing the most difficult of times.

Friday, 5 February 2016

World Cancer Day - Letter to MP

As well as planning to climb Kilimanjaro to raise funds for charity I'm also spending my time campaigning on the issues of profiteering and conflicts of interest within the cancer industry, something which I was very shocked to discover during our cancer journey.  It is hard to believe but cancer has become one of the most lucrative markets on the planet, while one person dies of the disease every four seconds.  As high profit levels depend on time-limited patents, profits would plummet if genuine cures were developed, so it's not surprising that progress in developing cures is slow - we are relying of profit-motivated organisations to develop cures that are not in their interest.

Yesterday was World Cancer Day and I chose this day to write to my MP about these issues, which I believe are the single biggest obstacle to bringing forward the day when we no longer live in fear of cancer

I've shared my letter on Huffington Post: Cancer Widower's Letter to MP about Cancer's Tug of War
If you agree with the issues raised in my letter please help me to put pressure on the Government to tackle this problem by forwarding the link to your own MP - there is a link at the bottom of the Huffington Post page to do this.

UPDATE : I have now launched a campaign called “Dying for a Cure” to press for changes to tackle this issue.  It has its own website (, petition, Facebook and Twitter pages.  Please visit the website to find out more and see how you can support the campaign.