AN OTLEY man is in training to take on one of the world's highest mountains.

Simon Birkby will ascend Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania next autumn in memory of his father, Howard, who died of cancer last year after being diagnosed 14 months before.

Simon, who was born in Leeds and raised in Otley where his family lived for 22 years before moving to Scotland, has fond memories of hillwalking with his father in the Lake District.

The 43 year old - who says he is still 'a proud Yorkshireman' - says those recollections will motivate him as he heads up Africa's highest peak, whose summit is 5,895 metres above sea level, in October, 2020.

He is hoping the climb will raise as much money as possible for Cancer Research UK - and is already close to reaching his £2,000 target.

He said: "Cancer is horrible in any form and I would not wish the awful sentence that the last year and some has been on my Dad on anyone. I am so proud of him for how he dealt with it.

"There was nothing any of us could do for my Dad and we can only be grateful that this didn't impact on his life until later, when he had at least seen his two children grow up and marry, and had met all four grandchildren.

"Most of all, he had the support of his wonderful wife, our Mum Valerie, until the very end.

"We are grateful for all of the support that we received from family and friends, and also from the supporting services. So, as with many others I have admired in the past, I have decided to try and give something back."

When it came to deciding what kind of fundraising challenge he should take on, a climb seemed the natural way to go - though Simon is not underestimating the scale of the challenge.

He said: "I'm well aware that this isn't going to be a Sunday morning stroll - Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain in the world at 5,895 metres: Everest is less than 3,000 metres higher and there is not much oxygen at the top.

"It's going to be tough and many people have to give up, but I'm determined to give it a go.

"Dad loved hill-walking and particularly in the Lake District, near his home town of Barrow-in-Furness, so I thought something related would be a fitting tribute and hopefully raise some money.

"Scrambling across Striding Edge to Helvellyn with him when I was far from the size I am now is a memory I will always have. Although I was a bit scared then I still wanted him to be proud, and the same is still true.

"I did tell him what I was thinking before we had to say goodbye and he loved it, his only regret being that he couldn't come with me - so there's no going back now."

Simon, who will be cheered on by his wife Beverley and children Charlotte, four and James, two can be supported at .