‘Rooftop’ trek may be the last

MAPPED OUT: Bill Middleton says it is probably his last trip
MAPPED OUT: Bill Middleton says it is probably his last trip

Bill Middleton is climbing high for probably his last fundraising trip for street children.

The 66-year-old retired architect from Eynsham is putting on his walking boots to scale the ‘rooftop of Africa’, the Simien Mountain range, which rises to over 4,500 metres at its highest peak. He is doing it to raise money for RETRAK, a Christian-based organisation which tries to reunite children with families and encourage them back into mainstream education or vocational training.

Mr Middleton, who lives in High Street, became involved with RETRAK while working for six years in Uganda.

"I decided to work out there for a while to try and make a contribution to something. It was very rewarding," he said.

"I got to know the director, Andy Williams, who was putting together a football team for street children which became known as the Tigers Club, which has since formed the model for other football projects in Nairobi and Addis Ababa."

"It has developed into projects to provide schooling, buying clothes and medical aid."

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Mr Middleton, who was born and raised in South Africa, lived in the USA for four years. He came to settle in England and has previously globe-trotted on fundraising efforts in New Zealand as well as Africa, and this country’s Three Peaks Challenge.

He added: "I think this will probably be my last fundraising effort, so I am hoping for lots of sponsorship.

"I’ve done fundraising trips before, but not quite like this one, where there is altitude sickness to take into account, as well as other things."

He flies out to Ethiopia in November and, while looking forward to the trek, says: "It will put my stamina to the test, as will the non-toilets and the unknown food."

The Simien Mountains is a national park and was made a Unesco World Heritage site in 1979.

Mr Middleton is hoping to raise more than £3,000 to help RETRAK. Karla Hawke, a charity spokesman, said the organisation was aiming to raise £50,000 from the efforts of Mr Middleton and other trekkers.

She added: "It will fund our work with street children in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. They will visit the new street children project in Addis Ababa at the end of the trek, enabling them to see where their fundraising efforts will go.

"We are really grateful to people like Bill."

Anyone who would like to help with fundraising should email thehighstreet@talktalk.net

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