A former Royal Navy engineer is set to take on the dizzying heights of Mount Kilimanjaro in memory of her friend’s partner who died in a Royal Marine training exercise.
Nikki Phoenix (31) who now lives in Alford and works at a cafe in Louth, is hoping to raise at least £2,000 by June in order to take on the epic challenge in the autumn, which will see her tackle the famous Tanzanian mountain - all 5,895 metres of it!
Nikki will be tackling the mountain in order to raise funds for the Forces Support Charity, which provides help and comfort to the families of servicemen and servicewomen who have died whilst in service with the UK’s Armed Forces.
The charity is particularly close to Nikki’s heart, as her friend Sian’s partner Paul ‘Woody’ Woodland, died at the age of 32 during a Royal Marine training exercise.
Mr Woodland tragically passed away after being trapped underneath a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) during a Special Boat Exercise off the coast of North Devon back in October 2012, as the result of a ‘freak accident’ which resulted in the boat being capsized by a large wave when both engines failed.
Although Nikki never met Paul in person, she had become good friends with Sian while serving alongside her on the HMS Campbeltown back in 2004.
Nikki said: “Sian and I met when we lived on the same mess deck, we were shipmates.
“We were good friends, but unfortunately we did not keep in contact after I left the Royal Navy in 2012.
“We got back in touch thanks to social media, after I saw on my news feed that her partner Paul had passed away.
“Sian climbed Mount Kilimanjaro about three years ago and I made a donation at the time, and then more recently she asked online whether anyone else wanted to sign up for the challenge, so I went for it.”
Nikki added: “I wasn’t very fit in the Royal Navy, but I’ve changed my ways in the past couple of years.
“I’ve quit smoking, cut down drinking, and gone to Slimming World.
“I’m very apprehensive, but for me it will be more of a mental challenge than a physical one. I’ve not done any charitable challenges before.
“I have made changes in my life and I am now more happy, and I want to project this on to other people by supporting this important charity.”
• To find out more about Nikki’s story and the important work of the Forces Support Charity, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/nikki-phoenix