Two employees of British housebuilding company Taylor Wimpey are climbing Africa’s highest mountain Kilimanjaro to raise money for the National Deaf Children’s Society.
Bedford based Nik Eason, who is site manager at the builder’s Steppingley Gardens development in Flitwick, will be joined by his elder brother Mark, who lives in Rushden, Northamptonshire. 37-year-old Mark also works for Taylor Wimpey as a Customer Service Engineer.
After being inspired by his children to undertake the climb, 32-year-old Nik is hoping to raise more than £6,000 by both reaching the 5,895m (19,341 feet) summit.
The brothers have already received a big boost to their fundraising appeal, thanks to a £1,000 donation from Taylor Wimpey’s South Midlands team.
Nik says: “Both my children were born deaf, so I do a fair bit of charity work for the NDCS. The charity has helped us tremendously. Taylor Wimpey has also been a massive help. As well as giving this donation, they’ve allowed me a lot of time off for hospital visits and so on. It just shows how well they look after their employees.”
The Eason brothers leave for Africa on 20th October, and hope to get up and down the huge mountain in six days.
“We’ve both done quite a bit of training in this country,” explains Nik. “Of course you never know how you will cope with the altitude, but hopefully we’ll be OK.”
There’s no clear reason why Nik and wife Kerry’s two children; 4-year-old Ava-Rose and 2-year-old Charlie, were both born profoundly deaf.
Both children have cochlear implants: electronic devices inserted into their inner ear in a four-hour operation, to provide sound signals to the brain.
“There isn’t actually any history of deafness on my side of the family or my wife’s side – it’s a bit of an anomaly,” says Nik. “It’s a very, very emotional moment when your child starts to hear for the first time. You see their eyes change when they start to hear. But it can be confusing for the child too, after perhaps a year of silence.”
He said both children had responded well to the implants – and Ava-Rose is due to start soon at a local mainstream school.
The NDCS has helped the family since their children were diagnosed – both with technical expertise and with psychological advice – and Nik adds: “Now I would like to give something back.”