Fundraiser fights on despite fire to help raise more than £100k for WaterAid

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Fundraiser fights on despite fire to help raise more than £100k for WaterAid

A team of hardy Thames Water workers helped raise more than £100,000 for WaterAid as part of Trek Madagascar – despite their mission being hit with a huge wildfire.

Jenni Hughes, Mark Smith, Ashton Kieltyka and Karina Koch took on the arduous challenge late last year with their fundraising ring-fenced for the Thames loves Malawi appeal.

The foursome were joined by former Thames Water employee Jade Wilkinson and around a dozen others for the challenge, and their final sum of £22,273.97 was added to the other totals from the dozen – resulting in a staggering £109,000 raised.

It was a tough and challenging walk for the team with steep inclines in the intense Madagascan heat but nothing was going to stop them reaching the summit, or at least that’s what they thought.

Halfway through the visit to the Indian Ocean island, off the coast of East Africa, a huge wildfire tore through the surrounding landscape and surrounded the team’s campsite. After liaising with the guides and speaking to locals, the team did as advised and re-routed their walk around the mountain rather than up it.

Thankfully, nobody was hurt during the fire – but it left a lasting impression on all those who took part.

Jenni said: “It was really tough and the fire really shocked us. We just all felt so lucky to be alive after it, and were determined to continue with the trek because it was raising so much money for such a worthwhile cause.

“The first morning we had to walk through the charred land and it was spread as far as the eye can see, which just shows the huge area it covered.”

The fire occurred halfway through the trip, meaning the team still got to see the benefits the money and investment in the local areas would bring to the residents.

Jenni added: “The whole walk was very inspiring. The local people we met and spoke to were lovely and it was really good to see where the money we would raise would actually go.

“Although it’s a different appeal, the people of Madagascar face the same challenges as the people of Malawi, so seeing the huge benefits a clean water supply, sanitation and sewer network, something we take for granted every day, would bring to those people’s lives was eye-opening.

“We’re delighted we have raised that amount and would like to thank everyone who donated over the past year or so – we held a lot of fundraising initiatives such as bake sales, VIP tickets for Reading Festival and everyone really supported us.”

For more information or to donate to their appeal visit