Dad in Kilimanjaro climb for school autism class

Luke and son Noah.
Luke and son Noah.

A Portadown dad is preparing to climb Africa’s highest mountain to raise money for a new sensory room in the autism unit at Edenderry Primary School.

Luke Flavelle (31) will fly out next Sunday for the eight-day trek, which he has organised himself and on which he will be accompanied by just the guides.

The Tandragee Road man, who works at Mahon Garden Centre, has already raised £1,700 and is hoping the final figure will be closer to £4,000.

His son Noah (6) is in the junior learning support centre at Edenderry PS and although he was given the all-clear after an autism assessment, Luke says it is a condition he feels strongly about.

He said, “Noah has come on incredibly well at the school. The autism teacher Lesley Hanna has been telling me all about the autistic class and what they need. I wanted to give something back.”

Luke has been training twice a week in the Mournes, with his rucksack filled with 14kg of fertiliser from his workplace, but he points out that Slieve Donard is only 850m high in comparison to the almost 6,000m height of Kilimanjaro.

“My friend Gavin Cusack of Gavin Cusack Coaching & Wellness has been training me up at Vo2 gym,” he added. “He’s been a brilliant help in preparing me for the climb including advice on my breathing. At times I think there’s no way Kilimanjaro could be tougher than some of his sessions.”

As well as sponsorship, Luke is also hosting a quiz night in Annagh United Football Club, while his mum Julie and sister Cathy held a dessert night.

He has thanked everyone for their generosity and anyone else who wishes to contribute should log on to the Youcaring website and type in Luke’s name.