• Friday, December 09, 2022

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Award winning chef completes trek up Kilimanjaro to raise over £7,000 for charity in honour of her mum

By: Pramod Thomas

AN award-winning chef has raised over £7,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support as she completed a trek to the top of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in August.

Lorna Nanda Gangotra of Lorna’s Indian Kitchen at Addlestone in Surrey has described he experience of reaching Uhuru summit, the roof of Africa, truly ‘lifechanging’.

Now, she wants to create awareness about the support available from Macmillan for everyone living with cancer especially in the South Asian community.

“This August I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s highest single free-standing mountain in Tanzania, towering 5,895 metres above sea level with temperatures as low as -20 degrees. There’s been excitement and nerves as I’ve pushed myself to new limits – physically, mentally and emotionally – but I am very grateful that I have had the opportunity to do this. The hardships we endured and the people who assisted us, have irrevocably changed my life forever,” Gangotra said.

“Training and taking part in this challenge has been fantastic and truly life affirming. I’ve actually developed a love of goblet squats, step-ups & downhill lunges. It only took me 46 years to find out!”

She was the first winner of the Big Family Cooking Showdown alongside (her sister and sister-in-law) on BBC2 in 2017 with Nadiya Hussain, Zoe Ball, Giorgio Locatelli and Rosemary Shrager.

During filming for the show that her mother, Harbhajan Kaur, was diagnosed with cancer and went on to have surgery and intense chemotherapy.

Lorna and her mum Harbhajan Kaur

According to Gangotra, her mother’s cancer diagnosis ‘shook their world’.

“Her symptoms were initially very difficult to control so it was a rather frightening and uncertain time, but she thankfully received all the necessary treatments and eventually came through. In all her challenges she has shown strength, courage, determination, and the ability to always keep the faith. I tried to mirror some of these traits to help me reach the top of Kilimanjaro,” she added.

“I do not have the right words to express my gratitude as to how Macmillan Cancer Support helped my mum and my family get through her cancer journey at the time, and they still do, to this day. Sometimes these charities can all seem a bit abstract and not real life, but just know, the work these people do is incredible and really does matter. I knew back then that I wanted to give back to them in some shape or form. So, when this opportunity arose, I took it and mum totally agreed.”

Unfortunately, she lost her auntie to cancer just before her trip. She now wants to encourage others to speak more openly about cancer, the signs and symptoms, treatment and support available.

She said: “People from the South Asian community can often feel embarrassed or ashamed about the word ‘cancer’ or symptoms they may have so do not talk to anyone about it or visit the GP when they should. There is a saying – you can’t be what you can’t see. This is why as a British, South Asian woman of Punjabi heritage I want to share my family’s experience of cancer and the help that is out there within my community.

“The same is true with climbing Kilimanjaro. If more people can see me climb the largest mountain in Africa for charity, they may be inspired to do the same.”

Chie Ishihara, Macmillan Fundraising Manager in Surrey said: “We are so grateful to Lorna for taking on this incredible challenge and raising so much money for Macmillan to help us provide much needed practical, emotional and financial support to people living with cancer particularly with the added burden of the current cost of living crisis.

“Lorna’s enthusiasm and drive has been an inspiration to us all and we look forward to working further with her to help raise awareness of Macmillan services in her area and among her community.”

To support Gangotra’s fundraising please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lornanandagangotra

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