An RAF veteran from Oxfordshire has scaled Mount Kilimanjaro and raised £4,245 for Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.

Ian Dewar, 57 and from Witney, travelled to Tanzania to take on Africa’s highest mountain. He met ten complete strangers in a hotel in Moshi at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro who were all set to take on the challenge for their own individual charities.

Ian says: “Our first job was to empty our bags and spread our clothing and equipment out by the hotel pool so the guide could check we had packed all that we needed to make it to the top. The temperature would range from 32 degrees Celsius at the bottom of the mountain to a possible minus 20 degrees at the top so it was important we were prepared.”

The group set off the following day. It took them five and a half days to reach the summit. Ian says: “The slower the ascent, the more chance we had of succeeding and not being affected by altitude sickness. We walked around eight hours a day, climbing 1,000 metres but then coming back down 500 metres to acclimatise.

“The final climb to the top was the longest day. We had a two-hour cat nap and then set off at 11pm and climbed for over eight hours in the dark with head torches to reach the top in time for the sunrise. After we had spent time at the top taking photos and looking around, we then walked for three hours down the mountain before stopping.

“The total height of Mount Kilimanjaro is 19,340ft. I was in the RAF for 33 years and have climbed a few mountains, but this was the tallest. One of the group counted their steps to have been 192,000 from start to finish. It was very hard physically. Towards the top a simple task like putting your sleeping bag back in its cover would leave you completely out of breath.

“We were well looked after and accompanied by a guide and a medic plus a group of porters who went ahead each day to set up camp and prepare the food. I have an amazing sense of achievement to have reached the top, both as part of the team and as an individual. I left with new friends for life; between us we achieved something great.”

If you would like to support Ian in reaching his target for Blind Veterans UK, please visit his Just Giving page.