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Legacy of brave adventurer Ian lives on at orphanage

A YEAR after his death mountaineer Ian McKeever is remembered with an orphanage in Africa.

The family of the adventurer and fundraiser, who died after being struck by lightning on Mount Kilimanjaro a year ago today, have revealed their delight that an orphanage has been built in his name in Tanzania.

His cousin Judy McKeever spoke of how she met a friend of his while on a trip to Africa to visit the orphanage, and how she cried with pride when she saw all he had achieved.

Ian was 42 when he was stuck by the lightning bolt in a freak tragedy on the African mountain on January 2 last year.

CLIMBING

His fiancee Anna O'Loughlin was also injured and had to be helped down the mountain by rescue teams before being transported to a local hospital in Moshi for treatment.

Twelve months on from the record-breaking mountain climber's death, the good work continues in his memory in the form of an orphanage built by his climbing group, Kilimanjaro Achievers.

"Ian's dream for the orphanage stemmed from his passion for youth health and empowerment through education, both here in Ireland and in Africa," said Judy.

"In 2010, Ian founded Kilimanjaro Achievers to enable young people from Ireland to achieve a personal goal of climbing the highest mountain in Africa while raising money for charities in Ireland and Africa and enjoying an adventure of a lifetime.

"Ian's dream was always to set up a school in Tanzania where 89pc of people live below the international poverty line and there is no free education system for children," she added.

The Ian McKeever Global Empathy Now Orphanage, currently home to 36 children, is aimed specifically at children who attend the local primary school and who have lost one or both parents to accidents or HIV.

BATON

"After Ian's sudden death, his friend Mike O'Shea took up the baton of leading Kilimanjaro Achievers to the summit of Kilimanjaro.

"He committed to not only fulfiling the promises Ian had made in terms of the climbs, but also to complete his dream for the orphanage and to leave a lasting legacy in Ian's name in the place he loved so much," said Judy.

"The focus for 2014 is to complete the kitchen and toilets for the orphanage and to add a library for the school," she added.

A plaque in Ian's memory has been placed on the wall of the orphanage.

One of Ian's friends, Dave Burke, told the Herald the realisation that his achievements in his short time made such an impact to so many people that it has given his family and close friends a huge sense of pride, and created some comfort as they dealt with their loss.

CLOSE

"Ian's family, in contrast to the public life Ian had, lead a very private life. And due to Ian's humble nature and disposition, he was never one to brag about the connections or achievements he had made in his professional career," said Dave.

"This was down to the fact that when Ian was with his family and close friends he just wanted to be the Ian they always knew him as, and do the things he liked to do in what little spare time he had, like going to the gym, or watching some big game with his pals," he added.

cfeehan@herald.ie


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