Chorley dad left paraplegic in Manchester bombing climbs Kilimanjaro for Spinal Injuries Association alongside best mate

A Chorley dad has climbed Africa’s highest mountain alongside his friend, who was left paraplegic by the Manchester Arena bombing, as part of an initiative seeking to raise £1m for the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA).

By Jack Marshall
Friday, 24th June 2022, 3:04 pm
Updated Friday, 24th June 2022, 3:04 pm

Heath Charnock-born Martin Hibbert was at the Ariana Grande concert in 2017 with his daughter Eve when a terrorist detonated the bomb which killed 22 people. Both him and Eve survived, but the incident left him with severe spinal injuries, meaning he completed the charity climb in a specially-adapted trike.

Joining him as part of the campaign, known as Martin’s Mountain, was Martin’s long-time friend Mark Pilling. Together, the group spent seven days traversing the treacherous terrain, eventually reaching the 5,756m summit in aid of those living with life-changing spinal injuries.

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Mark Pilling at the summit of Kilimanjaro

Battling altitude sickness, challenging conditions, and extreme temperatures ranging from sweltering during the day to as low as -20°C at the summit, the Martin’s Mountain team had nevertheless prepared, having spent the last year in training for their trip to the apex at Gilman’s Point.

Nevertheless, the climb – which one in three people who attempt it fail to complete at all - involved a week of 12-hour climbs and a total 45-mile ascent on a custom hand-bike for Martin, which was operated using levers.

“Climbing Kilimanjaro is only part of the story,” said Martin, who wants to turn the spotlight away from those who tried to end his life and towards the charity which helped him rebuild it. “My true ambition is to enable every spinal cord injured person to receive the specialist care and support they need to live the life they choose and reach their full potential.

"I want to start a movement that will create a better and fairer society for disabled people.”

Mark added: "I am honoured and humbled to have accompanied and completed the Kilimanjaro summit with my long-term friend Martin. Martin inspired me to the top, it was the hardest challenge of my life and, along with my wife, knowing Martin would reach the summit kept me going.”

For more information and to make a donation, head to https://martins-mountain.justgiving-sites.com/