Gordon Foot Mount Kilimanjaro 1 - A Seafarer's Challenge: Fundraising Ascent on Mount Kilimanjaro for Safer Waves
Posted on 19th Feb 2024

A Seafarer’s Challenge: Fundraising Ascent on Mount Kilimanjaro for Safer Waves

Inspired by his steadfast commitment to Safer Waves, we recently connected with Gordon Foot, an esteemed Offshore Client Representative with a longstanding relationship with Elevate Offshore. Gordon’s remarkable feat of conquering Mount Kilimanjaro in October 2023 is a significant personal accomplishment and part of his ongoing fundraising mission for Safer Waves, a charity dedicated to aiding seafarers affected by bullying, harassment, and assault. As we delve into his journey, Gordon shares insights into his passion for maritime causes, the challenges faced during the climb, and Elevate Offshore’s pivotal support in his philanthropic endeavour.

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How did you come across Safer Waves, and what motivated you to support this specific charity?

“Safer Waves was established in 2019 to assist seafarers affected by bullying, harassment, and assault, particularly addressing gender discrimination and inclusion issues and raising awareness of sexual assault in the maritime sector. Having advocated for allyship for many years, especially the role men can and must play in fostering positive change, made supporting this charity a natural choice. I continue to promote the concept of Allyship actively – this means the active support for the rights of a minority or marginalised group without being a member of it.

We all need a friend at sea, and Allyship teaches us to look out for and be there for each other in times of need. Bullying, harassment and sexual assault have impacted our industry just like other industries. But with the lack of oversight, supervision, reduced crew manning and isolation from land and/or law enforcement, the maritime scenario differs significantly from that on land. Once a taboo subject, I aim to highlight what is unacceptable at sea within teams and multicultural environments so that we all respect boundaries, personal space, and each other’s decisions. Being an active bystander is what counts should you have concerns about workmates – whether bullying, harassment or mental health.”

What inspired the decision to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for your fundraising initiative?

“As a seafarer passionate about the sea from a young age, I’ve spent four decades serving both beneath and on top of the waves. Wanting to inspire others to embrace maritime adventures, I’ve volunteered extensively for various maritime causes. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa, seemed like a bold move to draw attention to fundraising efforts. It was a bit out of our comfort zone as seafarers, adding an extra layer to the challenge.”

Can you provide our readers with insights into the training regimen you pursued in preparation for the climb?

“I did everything I could think of to strengthen my body. It’s not easy at sea, but I used the gym onboard my ships. I used the external stairways up and down, plus any ample deck space available to get my body used to extreme walking. The ship’s treadmills were also a great help. At home, I ventured out with my dog, walked the parks and attempted to get around on foot everywhere I could. Fortunately, I live next to Dartmoor National Park in Devon, so I had some hilly, rugged terrain to practice on.”

How many people were with you on the climb?

“Fifteen individuals, me included, undertook the October trek, with four women among us. As the eldest participant, I found solace in the diversity and camaraderie of our group, which significantly eased the challenges of the journey.”

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What were the highs and lows of the climb?

“The climb was unlike anything I had experienced before; an eight-day high-altitude camping expedition through rugged terrain. It entailed steep inclines, challenges of altitude sickness, and daily treks lasting 6-9 hours. Burning 6,000 calories daily, with an 8,000-calorie expenditure on summit day, emphasised the physical demands. Overcoming my discomfort with heights on precarious trails added an extra layer of challenge. The experience was both mentally and physically taxing, but the sense of accomplishment upon completion was unparalleled.”

In what ways has Elevate Offshore supported your fundraising mission?

“Elevate Offshore played a crucial role by making a substantial donation that significantly bolsters our fundraising goal. Moreover, they provided me with a branded t-shirt and a reliable Elevate Offshore Ocean Bottle, ensuring I was well-equipped for success on the climb!”

Do you have any future fundraising plans?

“I am contemplating a parachute jump as a fundraising initiative in 2024, a concept suggested by a colleague. However, the current endeavour for Safer Waves will extend throughout 2023, and any modest donation is sincerely welcomed. I only request contributions equivalent to the price of a cup of tea or coffee, as these small gestures collectively make a substantial impact. As you’ve likely gathered, my belief in ‘giving back’ and ‘paying it forward’ is steadfast. One need not be a seasoned professional to engage in such acts; you can initiate this journey anytime. The rewards, I assure you, are immeasurable. A close friend aptly termed it ‘Semper Reddere,’ a philosophy I am committed to as I continue my voluntary efforts. I hope this endeavour inspires, encouraging others to strive for their best selves and collectively contributing to creating a more compassionate maritime community for all.”

To donate to this worthy cause, please visit Gordon’s JustGiving Page.

Further listening: Podcasts featuring Gordon where he calls for sustainable change and, in his own words, “how to be a decent human being by leading with kindness”.

Rhea Rouw ‘Yachting International Radio’ – Allyship
Charles Wallace ‘The Bear Essentials’ – Life Lessons from the Sea
Karine Rayson ‘The Wellbeing Project’ – Mental Health

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