Supporting people to face challenges has always been part of MacIntyre’s ethos. Hence incredible expeditions like the Kilimanjaro Trip in 1990, by seven residents Malcolm Finnan, Johnny Howlett, Steve Stokes, Steve Holt, Tim Poole, Sharon Pratt, and Paul Sillitoe. They were supported by a team made up of Bill Mumford, John Thorne, Liz Horseman, Julie Wood, Pat Humphries, Hilary Neilson, Stuart Geddes, Jackie Bower, Chris Money, Jonathon Rees, Richard Miles, Pam Pratt, Sarah Thomas, and Gerry Wheatley; with an entourage of 50 porters and guides.
The trip to Kilimanjaro was sponsored by several companies and much of the equipment was purchased from funds raised by a group of supporters in Milton Keynes. Some climbers retired before reaching the top of the mountain, but two residents made it, Steve Holt and Paul Sillitoe. This was the first ascent of Kilimanjaro by anyone with a disability and was ground breaking in the disability adventure world. Paul went on to set his world altitude record for someone with a learning disability on the North Col of Everest.
That left Paul and Steve Holt of the team to keep the Maclntyre flag flying. Both made it. Paul with his athletic nature we expected to see on the top but Steve — well, it was only six months ago that he was so nervous about heights and I can remember only too well that at Llantony last summer we had the greatest difficulty in persuading him to climb even a fairly easy hill.
The Ring – Kili Suplement – Spring 1990
The following Summer, six young people from MacIntyre decided the next challenge was to mount an expedition to the Alps. They chose the Tour du Mont Blanc, the classic Alpine trek, 130 miles circumnavigating the famous mountain. The trek was accomplished in 1991, a fortnight of hard climbs, painful descents, sleeping in mountain huts and getting up each morning to start all over again. Teamwork was the motto; co-operation, tolerance, dependence, leadership, support, negotiation and good humour were all necessary to survive.
I remember climbing Kilimanjaro. It was a great mountain. I don’t have a favorite, I love them all. I climbed Kilimanjaro in 1990 and 2000, Everest in 2004, Picardie in 1993 and Mount Blanc three times in 1994, 1999 and 2006. Everest was the hardest mountain to climb, it was a bit steep, but it was good though. Climbing mountains made me feel very happy. I’ve not been climbing recently, but this year I went skiing with my family in Italy. So I still visit the mountains. I even did a black run, but that was a little too steep. I keep fit by swimming and going to the gym every week. Being fit is very important to me, one day I might climb another mountain.