A SKIPTON dad is taking on an epic challenge when he embarks on a 10-day expedition to tackle Mount Kilimanjaro.

Matthew Wilson, 31, decided to take on a fundraising challenge after retiring from the rugby pitch after playing for 20 years with Skipton RUFC, gaining 100 first team caps at number 7.

He will make the 4,900-metre ascent up the peak – the highest mountain in Africa – in February, and aimed to raise £2,500 for Martin House, as well as a further £2,000 to pay for the trip.

Already he has surpassed his initial target on his JustGiving page of £4,500 with the current total reaching more than £4,700.

He said: “I’ve got two children - Dora-Rose, four, and Elodie Grace, four months - and I’m very fortunate they are healthy, so I wanted to support a children’s charity.

"Martin House and the work it does just stuck out straight away.”

The Kilimanjaro challenge will see Matthew travel to Tanzania in February, where it will take him six days to climb the peak – and a further two-and-a-half days to descend.

Mr Wilson added: “It will be 30 degrees when we set off, but by the time we get to the top the temperature will drop to minus 30. It takes longer to climb than to descend because it’s classed as extreme altitude, but we don’t take any oxygen, so we have to take it slow to adjust.”

He has been tackling the Yorkshire Three Peaks as part of his preparation, as well as running and gym training. He also took part in a treadmill challenge in the entrance to the Tesco store, in Skipton, in December, raising £333 towards his total.

He is being supported by his wife Abigail, who is charting his progress on Facebook and Instagram, and running his Just Giving page, and his employer, Skipton Hire Centres, who have been supporting his fundraising.

He said: “I have been really pushing myself over Christmas with the training so hopefully it will pay off when I am up Kilimanjaro. I just want to raise as much money as I can, to make a difference to the children at Martin House.”

Mr Wilson also recently braved the cold of Scafell during one of his training walks to condition himself fully for the expedition.

Anyone wishing to donate to his fundraising page and to find our more about his quest can do so at: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/matty-wilson1

Martin House cares for children and young people with life-limiting conditions – and their families – from across West, North and East Yorkshire, including respite stays at its hospice, support in hospital and in their own homes.

It has been providing family-led care and support for children and young people with life-limiting conditions for more than 30 years and each year supports over 420 children and young people, and their families plus 150 bereaved families across West, North and East Yorkshire, both at the hospice and in families’ own homes.

Martin House hosts one of only three specialist training places in the UK for consultants in paediatric palliative medicine, alongside placements in London (Great Ormond Street Hospital) and Cardiff.

There is no cost to any of the families using our services. It costs in excess of £8 million a year to provide this care, the majority of which comes from voluntary donations and fundraising.