When she climbs Mount Kilimanjaro from August 7 to August 12 2015, 13-year-old Olivia Maiden of Poulton, Lancashire, will remember her sister, Florence, who died shortly after her first birthday. Olivia will be one of the youngest people ever to scale the mount.
She’s some way behind the youngest, seven-year-old Keats Boyd from Los Angeles in 2008, but still part of the most select of bands.
Her father, Dan, will accompany her, along with two guides, a cook and as many as 10 porters. Dan previously climbed the mountain in 2011.
Olivia will climb Kili to raise money for Helen & Douglas House in Oxford, the hospice that cared for her sister and supported her family. One source of support was the hospice’s Elephant Club, which arranges fun trips for children affected by illness, such as Olivia and her brother, George.
She enthused that this establishment gave Florence “the best last moments of her life, in the spa room with the jacuzzi, in the art room and many other brilliant places.… I would really like to give back to Helen & Douglas House.” More than £6,000 has been raised.
The short life of Florence Maiden
Olivia’s sister, Florence, grew sick shortly after her birth, which doctors initially dismissed but later realised was Leigh’s Disease, a rare condition which affects the central nervous system. It causes loss of mental and movement abilities and can cause death from respiratory failure. Florence died on November 28 2008.
Olivia could do it
Olivia concedes that she is “not a natural at sport,” but she does like climbing mountains and she believes she’s somewhat determined. John Baugh, the headmaster of the Dragon School, which Olivia attends as a boarding pupil, remarked that he was not in the least surprised that Olivia will climb Kili as she has displayed “a huge amount” of creativity and determination as she helped others and raised awareness of significant issues since arriving at the school five years ago. He added that everyone at the school is “immensely proud of her.” She climbed Mount Snowdon in 2011 and Ben Nevis in 2014.