Peak performance from Mayfield 12-year-old

Tali Cunningham and her stepfather James
Tali Cunningham and her stepfather James

Tali Cunningham, 12, from Skippers Hill Preparatory School, Mayfield, climbed the highest mountain in South East Asia to raise money for a local good cause.

She raised almost £1,500 for the Robert Poulton Foundation Primary Schools project aiming to bring singing into inner London schools with the help of specialist teachers.

The foundation was created in memory of Heathfield opera star Robert Poulton, who died in a head-on collision in Cross-in-Hand in 2013.

Skippers Hill head teacher Tim Lewis said: “This was a gutsy performance which tested Tali’s strength of character but her determination kept her going right to the summit. All of us at Skippers are truly proud of her!”

On November 14 she joined her stepfather James to climb Mount Kinabalu, 4,096 metres, walking through dense rainforests and being rained on repeatedly for six hours.

The pair arrived at a resthouse at 4.30pm joining Americans, Canadians, Russians, Malaysians, Indonesians and Swedes before the final ascent at 2am.

Tali, who lives in Blackboys, said: “We had to wrap up warm as it was freezing and wear head torches. The last 1,000 metres was very challenging. We used ropes to climb up the steep granite slope. The air got thinner and the temperature dropped to 4c, which was a big change from the 30c we were used to on sea level. At 6am we reached Low’s Peak, which is at 4,095m. I was so pleased with myself, I felt proud I had made the peak and I also made it in time for the sunrise which was unlike any other I have ever seen, which by the way has not been many because I am normally asleep.

“Next was the even harder walk down. After stopping at the rest house for a big breakfast, we started walking down for eight long hours which ended with a massive staircase and when I saw it, I was not happy, at all.

“Finally after 19 hours of walking we had done it! I was exhausted beyond exhaustion but seriously happy to find out that I had raised £1,445. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. Ever!”