West Hampstead teenager to trek to Everest for deaf charity

Jess Curtis with her dad David, who will attempt to trek to Everest's base camp in April Picture: Em

Jess Curtis with her dad David, who will attempt to trek to Everest's base camp in April Picture: Emma Curtis - Credit: Archant

A 14-year-old girl from West Hampstead is preparing to trek to Everest base camp next month to raise money for the charity which helped her deaf brother learn to talk.

Jess Curtis, who is in year nine at Haberdashers’ Aske’s Girls School, will take on the gruelling 12 day challenge with her dad, David, and a private guide.

Her brother, James, 17, was eight months old when he was diagnosed as profoundly deaf. His condition means that even if a plane was to take off next to him, he wouldn’t hear it.

His and Jess’ parents both worried he would end up living in a silent world.

After he had an implant installed at age 2, followed by three years of therapy from Auditory Verbal UK, his language skills became on a par with most children his age.

He now speaks two languages, runs societies at St Paul’s School, and has been offered a place at Durham University.

David, 49, believes that without the charity, James wouldn’t have the quality of life he currently enjoys.

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“When he was diagnosed, we were worried he wouldn’t have the same opportunities as other children. Instead he’s been in mainstream schooling, and spoke at dinners to help raise money for the charity. We’re raising the money to help others have the same quality of life,” he said.

The group will be trekking a total of 130km, at altitudes of up to 5,600 metres.

Jess has been going through training with her dad in preparations for the challenge.

It is the first mountaineering challenge she has done. She got the idea while in school, when she was learning about the mountain. She said: “I am completely scared of it, but I’m also really excited.

“I expect the altitude to be the biggest challenge. My dad has hired some specialist apparatus to simulate having lower levels of oxygen and I am training by walking and running on the treadmill, but I don’t think there’s anything we can do that will fully prepare us.”

She also told the Ham&High how she admires her brother. “James is not defined by being deaf and is such an inspirational older brother, most people do not realize he is deaf as he is always so chatty and has so many interests.”

The group will set off on the 12 day trek on Easter Sunday, April 1.