A GROUP of charity climbers from Weymouth and Dorchester are preparing to scale the heights of Africa.

The team of 13 local musicians and friends have set off on the trip of a lifetime to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for the Steve Charles Help a Friend Fund.

The local charity was set up in memory of Dorchester musician Steve Charles to provide funds for seriously ill people needing treatment.

The climbers had a warm send off at an event at Durnovaria Wine Bar in South Street earlier this week including a special cry from Dorchester Town Crier Alistair Chisholm.

The climbers plan to spend five days hiking up to the summit of Kilimanjaro and two days coming back down.

They left for the trip today and will set off on the climb itself on Monday, meaning the group of 13 will be setting out on the 13th.

Jack Daniels, who came up with the idea for the challenge, said none of the team really had a lot of experience of doing anything similar.

The group have been doing their best to prepare for scaling the 5,895m mountain in Tanzania by trekking up and down the Dorset coast.

Jack said for him personally it had been a case of trying to find a challenge that would take him outside of his comfort zone.

He said: “I Googled all the things I don’t like – walking, climbing, heights and camping and it came up with Kilimanjaro so that’s why I came up with the idea.

“It’s a massive challenge for me personally because I don’t like all those things.”

Dorchester Mayor Stella Jones praised the climbers at the leaving bash at Durnovaria.

She said: “I think it’s absolutely wonderful what they are doing.

“I knew Steve for many years, he was a wonderful person and a great musician and I think this charity is just so good for people who are in need of help. I would love to be going with them.”

Chairman of the Help a Friend Fund Ben King added: “We have worked very hard through the year to raise as much money as possible.

“These 13 people doing this climb are going to climb this mountain as friends and I’m fairly sure they will come back as good friends because it’s going to be a really good challenge.

“It’s going to be a challenge but I’m sure with team support they will get themselves through it.”

To find out more about the mission and to sponsor the team visit helpafriendfun.blogspot.co.uk