Brother of tragic former West Ham footballer climbs Kilamanjaro to raise cash for condition that killed his sibling
- Credit: Archant
The brother of a former West Ham footballer who died on the same Finsbury pitch he started playing on has raised nearly £10,000 by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to help others with the same life-threatening condition.
Mitchell Cole, 27, who represented England at schoolboy level alongside Wayne Rooney and scored one of the first competitive goals at the new Wembley Stadium, suffered heart failure at the Finsbury Leisure Centre, in Norman Street, last year during a kickabout with friends and family.
Earlier this month his younger brother, Ben, who grew up with Mitchell in Old Street, climbed Africa’s tallest mountain to raise cash for people with cardiomyopathy – the condition which affected Mitchell and cut short his professional playing career.
So far Ben has raised more than £6,400 and his pal Dylan Kelly, from Phillip Street, in London Fields, who completed the gruelling challenge with him has brought in about £3,500 for the Cardiomyopathy Association’s Mitchell Cole Tribute Fund.
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Ben said: “The climb wasn’t easy. There were a few times when we could have stopped and turned back, but luckily we had a great group of people who were very supportive.
“I felt really worn out. I got headaches and was breathless and sick from the altitude. One day I was so bad I had to force down my lunch and take paracetamol and ibuprofen together.
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“But I feel so fortunate to have been able to take part in such a physically, mentally and emotionally hard challenge and be able to come out of it and say I did it – not only for me and my family – but for Mitch. He was in my head the whole time and made me go on at times that I felt like giving up.”
Ian said: “It’s by far the best thing I have ever done. What an experience and obviously so rewarding.
“The group we went with made things a lot easier and I have made friends for life. “There were times I thought I couldn’t go on, but with their support, encouragement, singing and dancing I managed it. The views were breathtaking – photos don’t do that beast of a mountain any justice.”
The friends took the more adventurous Mechame route up Kilimanjaro, climbing in temperatures reaching 40C, but finding it sub-zero at the top. They also had to contend with high humidity and altitude sickness.
Ben added: “My brother died very unexpectedly. So I decided to climb Kilimanjaro as a way of raising awareness of cardiomyopathy and the work of the charity. I think it would have made Mitchell proud.
“The charity was close to his heart and I know he would want me and the rest of our family to continue what he started.
“As his younger brother I am continuing in his footsteps and I hope this climb will be the first of many inspiring challenges.”
Mitchell left wife Charly – sister of England international Joe Cole – and children Rhys, Georgie and Leni-Boo – at home.