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Kilimanjaro challenge for Heather Lawrence

16 January 2014

Heather Lawrence OBE, the former Chief Executive of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, is about to take on a new challenge—to climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, in order to raise funds for Facing the World.

Heather Lawrence OBE, the former Chief Executive of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, is about to take on a new challenge—to climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, in order to raise funds for Facing the World.

In January of this year, Heather will join her fellow trekkers in the ascent, along the Rongai Route. This route approaches the mountain from the north, and passes through the diverse and beautiful landscape—from farmland, to forest, then onto wild moorland, prior to reaching the 5,895 metre summit.

“Those who know me will appreciate that I’m more likely to be found wearing heels, and not an anorak,” joked Heather recently. “This will be a challenge!”

Mount Kilimanjaro’s high altitude will present Heather with a further obstacle to overcome, as she has asthma. “I’ll have my inhaler, and I intend to reach the top,” she said, smiling.

Heather has supported Facing the World since the charity was established over a decade ago. She first met Norman Waterhouse, one of the charity’s founders in his capacity as craniofacial consultant when he treated her friend and colleague’s new-born child. The mother had given birth to triplets, and one of the babies had been born with a severe cleft palate. Heather recalls how Norman’s compassion and confidence that this baby’s operation would go well—so reassured the child’s mother, and gave her hope. The child is now a healthy 18 year old girl who, along with her siblings, is a confident young woman and is making plans for her future.

The same compassionate impulse and the belief in a surgeon’s ability to help those who might otherwise be stigmatised, rejected and suffer a loss of confidence led Norman Waterhouse and his colleague Martin Kelly to establish Facing the World.

Whereas the NHS can help those born in the UK with craniofacial disfigurements, those children born in developing countries do not have access to the multi-disciplinary expertise that their condition may require. Facing the World can help these children.

We wish Heather every success with her challenge, and would like to thank her for choosing to support us!

She has set herself the ambitious fundraising target of £50,000—the average cost for just one child to be treated in the UK. It’s not uncommon for a child to stay up to six months in London to undergo multiple procedures. Although the surgeons give their time and expertise for free, the charity has to cover the hospital’s costs and the living costs of the child and his or her parent while they are here.

This month, we are looking forward to welcoming back Triny for a further procedure, and also Hadisa, to complete her own treatment. We then have plans to treat a further eight to ten patients this year, if we can raise the required funds.

Please show your support for Heather, and for Facing the World, by visiting her fundraising appeal page to make a donation.