Manchester Arena attack survivor scattered mum's ashes on Kilimanjaro after summiting in wheelchair

Gamal Fahnbulleh spoke to Martin Hibbert about his emotional summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

A father left paralysed in the Manchester arena attack has spoken of the emotional moment he scattered his mother's ashes at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Martin Hibbert conquered Africa's highest mountain in a specially-adapted wheelchair to raise money for charity and to help "move mountains" for other disabled people.

The 45-year-old hopes to raise £1 million to fund the Spinal Injuries Association, who support thousands of people across the country.

Due to the altitude, Martin and his support team spent less than half an hour at the summit of Kilimanjaro - just enough time for him to scatter his mother's ashes.

Throughout the momentous challenge, he said his mum, Janice, who died in October 2021, was his inspiration.

"I'm the reason that I'm here today - because of her", Martin said. "That grit, that determination, that stubbornness that she had is why I'm sat here today.

"As I have my whole life, it's to make her proud. I've never let my mum down and I certainly won't start now.

"She was with me all the way and talking to me all the way. It gave me the kick that I needed to get to the top."

Martin, who is from Chorley, and his daughter Eve, then aged 14, were six metres away from suicide bomber Salman Abadi when he detonated his device in May 2017.

He suffered a severed spinal cord from shrapnel and Eve sustained a "very significant" brain injury, after an Ariana Grande concert, which left 22 dead and hundreds injured.

On a specially-adapted wheelchair, Martin reached the top of Mount Kilimanjaro with the aid of a team of helpers, local guides and porters.

He had been preparing for the challenge for more than two years, including altitude training and preparing for freezing conditions.

Speaking back home, Martin said his incredible achievement had "not quite sunk in yet".

He said: "I'm very proud and very emotional. The messages I've been getting and the donations - almost £100,000 in 24 hours - that can only mean that I've hit the right chord."

(Left) Martin the day before his challenge. (Right) Martin holds a United flag at the summit of Kilimanjaro. Credit: Martin Hibbert

More than half a million pounds has already been donated to Martin's cause.

"There was a lot of pressure to get to the top", he said. "I had to do it. If I hadn't done it, it probably would've affected things when I got back home.

"We're only half way in terms of fundraising, there's still just over £400,000 to be donated it could've affected that and things that were in the pipeline to get us to that £1m."

Martin said his daughter, Eve, was always in his thoughts and that he carried a photo of her "near his heart".

"It was with me all the way up - it's one of my favourite pictures of Eve and I", he said.

Martin hopes completing this challenge is the "catalyst for change" that will "make life better for people who are being told that they are not going to walk again."

To donate, find his fundraising page here.

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