Luigi Marchini Walking Kilimanjaro to raise funds for Dementia UK

In the present hubbub of Olympic fever what stands out is the dedication, hard work and  determination of those taking part, whatever background they come from. We're getting acquainted with names we hadn't heard before, and admire what they've had to do to get here. But at any one time there are unsung heroes, surviving minor marathons in their daily lives, and also finding the time to help others. One such is Luigi Marchini, a family man and poetry organiser who not only supports writers and writing in the Canterbury area, but in October is planning to undertake the biggest challenge of his life - climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to raise funds for Dementia UK. Many in Kent will know of Luigi's dedicated approach to the literature scene, and some of us have known for some months of his planned mountaineering quest. What I didn't know is that Luigi has never slept nor eaten outdoors (only once when there was an attack by a herd of cows!) and does not even possess a sleeping bag, which I believe our Canterbury Laureate, Sarah Salway is helping out with. What! Never been camping, Luigi?! Talk about throwing yourself in at the deep end!

Luigi also works full-time, and after climbing Snowdon in May, is now embarking on a training routine of daily walking, jogging, playing squash and swimming in preparation for the uphill climb.

Luigi was drawn to raise money for Dementia UK by both personal and poetry-inspired reasons. An uncle suffers from vascular dementia and has been wheelchair-bound for years. A colleague's father also died from the illness last year, and Luigi's wife is a nurse who frequently comes across dementia sufferers at her workplace, where there is no specialist treatment.

 Luigi says:

"Like mental illness, Dementia is swept under the carpet. Unlike a physical illness like cancer, it is not tangible and because of this it is largely ignored. Out of sight, out of mind. There are not enough specialist carers or training given. 800,000 people in Britain suffer from Dementia and this will rise as the population gets older."

Luigi was also inspired by Jo Field's poetry collection, THE SPACE BEYOND; Jo is an ardent supporter of the charity, and all proceeds from her book go to Dementia UK.

Mount Kilimajaro is 19,341 feet above sea level. Researching it on Wikipedia, I was interested to note the discussion surrounding the history and names by which it is known, which should provide much inspiration for a poet! But I doubt Luigi will be thinking poetically as he undertakes this challenge, although I am sure on reflection he will! This type of endeavour does not only raise money for a cause, it also challenges the individual to the utmost, as both the physical and mental will be tested to his full endurance. I know that Luigi will not wish to be seen as any kind of hero, it will only embarrass him; far more important is the cause itself, and for us to be enlightened about how the money raised will help dementia sufferers.

Supporters have already contributed more than £3,000, surpassing his target, through poetry and other literature and countryside events. I take my hat off to those who have actively promoted and supported this cause, and wish Luigi a safe and successful journey. Only last week I received a call from a fellow writer and friend of mine, just 76 years old, a vibrant, humourous woman, who has just been diagnosed with the illness. I encourage anyone who can, to contribute to the cause at