A Newcastle lawyer is set to climb Africa’s highest mountain to raise money for the North East baby charity that supported his family when his daughter was born after just 25 weeks’ gestation.

Jan Rzedzian, an associate solicitor with Hay & Kilner Law Firm in Newcastle, will be taking on a seven day trek to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in mid-June as part of a fundraising drive for the Tiny Lives Trust.

Having originally been due in December, Jan and his wife Katie’s daughter Anya was born extremely prematurely last September at the RVI in Newcastle.

She spent three months on the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, which is support by the Tiny Lives Trust, as its specialist teams worked to help meet her complex and extensive medical needs, while the charity and the hospital team provided Katie and Jan with a range of practical and emotional support, advice and guidance.

After making excellent progress, Anya has now been able to go home with mum, dad and three year-old big brother Richard, and is receiving a range of assistance to support her continuing development.

Jan’s trek will involve around 68 kilometres of walking and almost 6,000 meters of climbing.

The final assault on the summit will begin at midnight and involves over 16 kilometres of walking and 1,100m of climbing through a 20-hour day.

Jan is already close to beating his original £1,000 fundraising target and is now aiming to bring in double that amount by the end of the expedition.

He says: “With Anya arriving so much earlier than expected, we were faced with a huge range of challenges, issues and emotions for which we weren’t prepared, and the Tiny Lives team’s support was incredibly important in enabling us to cope while the medical teams worked to give Anya all the help she needed.

“Tiny Lives helped us in a huge range of practical ways that made a massive difference, and was also there to give us the personal support we needed to deal with the rollercoasters of emotions that faced us every day.

“Climbing Kilimanjaro is a big undertaking, but I’m a keen walker and feel pretty confident that I’ll be able to make it to the summit, especially with all the generous backing I’ve had from sponsors so far.

“Anya still needs some medical support as she continues to grow, but overall she’s doing really well now and raising as much as we can for Tiny Lives is a great way for Katie, Richard and I to say thank you to everyone who helped her since her early arrival.”

The Tiny Lives Trust, which is Hay & Kilner Law Firm’s charity of the year, helps to care for up to 800 premature and sick newborn babies and their families each year and works to support the Newcastle RVI Neonatal Service, which cares for babies from across the North East and Cumbria.

Louise Carroll, community and events fundraiser at the Tiny Lives Trust, adds: “When we first heard about Jan’s challenge we were blown away by his dedication and generosity!

“We are lucky to have wonderful supporters such as Jan, as well as corporate supporters such as Hay & Kilner, who raise the vital funds needed to help us continue to support vulnerable babies and their families.”

To donate to Jan’s fundraising for The Tiny Lives Trust, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/haykilner-kilimanjaro