Dinnerlady, 50, set to scale Africa's highest mountain in memory of her late husband

A dinner lady from the Boston area is set to climb Africa’s highest mountain to raise money for a charity close to her heart.

Joanne, pictured in her role as a volunteer Coastguard rescue officer, and pictured, right, at Heathrow Airport.
Joanne, pictured in her role as a volunteer Coastguard rescue officer, and pictured, right, at Heathrow Airport.

Joanne Self-Shutts, of Leverton, flew out to Africa yesterday (Thursday) and will soon embark on an expedition to climb the 19,341ft high Mount Kilimanjaro.

The fifty year-old, who works as a dinnerlady at Giles Academy and as a volunteer Coastguard rescue officer, will be trekking through humid rainforest and desert-like conditions on her way to the freezing cold summit.

The climb will take her seven days, which will include various practise climbs in order to acclimatise to the high altitude.

Joanne pictured with her late husband Dave.

But training for a mountain climb around Lincolnshire has been tough for Joanne, as she explains: "Lincolnshire is very flat so it’s been hard to train on any hills, but I have had a couple of long walks around the hills of Old Bolingbroke.

“I use an exercise bike to build up my strength and walk my dog every day, sometimes up to 12 miles, but I injured by achilles tendon three months ago and the doctor said to me ‘no more hill walking’ – so I’m just hoping that it holds out.”

Joanne successfully tackled Mount Snowdon in Wales in the late 1990s – but has not climbed a mountain since.

She said: “With Kilimanjaro, you start in a rainforest and then eventually the route turns more barren like a desert, before hitting screed and rubble closer to the summit – which can experience temperatures as low as -20C.”

A view of the snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro. (Getty Images)

Joanne will be part of a group making the climb, and will be supported by her friend Lorraine, 58, also from Lincolnshire.

She is taking on the challenge to raise money for a charity her late husband Dave set up before his death from cancer in 2018.

Talking about her husband’s illness via her fundraising page, she writes: "In May 2015, two weeks after his 50th birthday, Dave was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer. There was never going to be a cure, just the option of controlling it for as long as we could, buying as much time as possible.”For most people, this news would be met with anger, resentment, hate and the feeling of wanting to give up, but not for Dave.

"Knowing he was on borrowed time, he wanted to make a difference, leave a legacy and do something useful with the time he had left and so ASTRiiD was born. Her mission is simple, to connect people with long-term health conditions with meaningful work.

"Of course life was never the same again, but ASTRiiD drove him forward on his rare dark days, gave him a reason to carry on. Sadly, he lost his fight after three years but she continues the fight for him. I am a trustee of this amazing charity and am overwhelmed on a regular basis by all the care, attention and focus that goes on behind the scenes.”

"I needed a new challenge, a reason to push myself like he did and a way to support his legacy, so here we are. I’ve paid for this bucket list challenge so please rest assured that every penny donated, goes straight to the charity.”

To support Joanne’s fundraising challenge visit her JustGiving page.