A woman from north Watford intends to mark her 50th birthday by trekking up Kilimanjaro to raise money for Peace Hospice Care.

Karen Smith from north Watford will be making her trek in September and set herself a target of raising £4,000 for the charity.

That sum, however, has already been exceeded after a fundraising party at The Flamingo pub in the Parade, Watford, on Saturday featuring thehouse band, Los Flamingos, which raised £700. That put the total raised so far to £4,200 with six months to go before the trip.

Karen, who works as a marketing executive at Rickmansworth’s Civica, a specialist systems and business process services company, has been volunteering for Peace Hospice Care for three years, taking part in a number of fundraising events and working each Monday as a receptionist at the hospice in Rickmansworth Road, Watford.

She is married with a 20-year-old son who is currently studying English Literature at London Metropolitan University.

Explaining her motivation for taking on Kilimanjaro, she said: "I first thought about doing Kilimanjaro a few years ago when a team of celebrities climbed it for Comic Relief.

"It was always in the back of my mind, but I needed something extra to motivate me.

"In 2010 we visited Vietnam, on a guided trip, and the trip involved us visiting various charities, which really opened my eyes to the suffering of people. I had never really been involved with charities other than doing the Starlight Walk for the Peace.

"When I came home, I decided I wanted to volunteer, and the choice of the Peace was an obvious one.

"I work with another volunteer, Rachael Townley, who went on a trip run by the Peace last year to the Himalayas. Her story moved me greatly, and it was the catalyst that started me on my journey to Kilimanjaro. 

"I decided that this year was the time to do it, with my 50th birthday in February, so I went along to an open evening in London last June, with the intention of finding out a bit more.

"I walked in the room and immediately signed up."

Karen paid tribute  to those who have already helped her reach and excel her target and said special thanks to Denis Cook, licensee of The Flamingo pub, and members of his band, Los Flamingos, Paul Green, Spike Webb, Micky Englert, Alex Richards and Pete Curtis.

To support Karen’s effort visit https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/karensmithkilimanjaro