PLANS to raise thousands of pounds for Cumbria’s children’s hospice are underway as two climbers prepare to reach new heights.

Paul Emmerson and Darren Jones will take on their biggest challenge to date next year when they set out to reach the 6,400m summit of Kang Yatse in the Himalayas.

The pair are experienced climbers but this trek - to mark Paul’s 50th birthday and in aid of Jigsaw, Cumbria’s Children’s Hospice - will be their first peak over 6,000m (20,000ft).

Life changed for Paul when he climbed the fabled African peak Mount Kilimanjaro seven years ago.

After descending the 5,895m (19, 340ft) dormant volcano in Tanzania, Paul bought a tanzanite stone and made a plan to propose to his then girlfriend, Jackie.

The couple, who have five children between them, married in 2016 at Armathwaite Hall Hotel, near Bassenthwaite.

Paul said: “The trip was amazing and while I was there, I purchased the tanzanite stone which I got cast into an engagement ring for Jackie. She loves the story behind the ring and tells it to anyone who listens.”

The Kilimanjaro challenge raised almost £11,000 for Jigsaw, through corporate sponsorship, donations from friends and family and a fundraising night.

Paul, who is an electrical contracts manager for Park Gate, started trekking around 12 years ago. He started walking leisurely in the Lake District and then walked Hadrian’s Wall with a group from work to raise £7,000 for one of his colleagues who has a disabled son.

He’s also completed the Three Peaks Challenge, climbing Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon in 24 hours.

“We did it just for the fun of it really but ended up getting soaked through on each one,” said Paul, of Carlisle, who now lives in Longridge, north of Preston.

“Then during a beer-fuelled night Darren introduced me to the prospect of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. I did this in October 2013 with a group I had just met at Heathrow Airport. Darren had done it three times previously as a medic and didn’t go on this trip.

“It was amazing, and I met a fabulous group of friends who I am still in regular contact


Plans for Paul and Darren’s Himalayan trip, next September, developed after they decided they needed a new challenge.

They had their sights set on Stok Kangri (6,153m), in the Ladkah region of north India, but due to its popularity among trekkers the mountain has been closed for two years to let the land regenerate. Instead, they decided to take their limit-pushing climb a step further and take on it’s slightly higher cousin Kang Yatse.

Sam Johnston, the charity’s events lead, said the support of Paul and Darren, and the local community, is what makes Jigsaw’s work possible. “It looks like a spectacular and memorable challenge and the money raised will make a huge difference at the children’s hospice,” he said.

Meanwhile, Eden Valley Hospice will mark its 30th anniversary next autumn and is organising a 12-day trekking challenge in Nepal, where participants will also help at Hospice Nepal, a project set up in Kathmandu to provide free medicines, therapies and support for those in need.

To donate to Paul’s challenge