Last October a soft toy ‘guide dog’, affectionately named Hillary after mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary and a recent Donegal Business Network visitor, accompanied an intrepid team of volunteers from Guide Dogs NI to Everest base camp.

The gruelling challenge tested the ‘Hillary’s Hikers’ to the limit but the exhaustion, blisters and altitude sickness were all forgotten when the initial fundraising target of £10,000 was smashed within weeks! Mascot Hillary was left behind in the care of sherpa Chhiri, with the hope he might make it all the way to the top.

Guide Dogs NI has just received confirmation that Hillary has indeed summited in the capable hands of sherpa Dawa, raising awareness and money all the way. So far, over £32,000 has been raised to name six guide dogs of the future. That’s more than £1 for every foot of Everest that Hillary has scaled!

Lesley Newberry from Bangor, volunteer puppy raiser and member of the Hillary’s Hiker team, said: “We are ecstatic. We never would have dreamt at the start how successful this campaign would be. A small group, just trying to raise awareness and funds for this wonderful charity, who dared to dream big.

“We have been overwhelmed by the public’s interest and support. We’ve also fallen in love with Nepal and its beautiful people, without whom this amazing feat would not have been possible.

“We look forward to Hillary returning to Northern Ireland over the next couple of weeks and raffling him off to raise further funds. Who wouldn’t want the chance to own a little piece of Everest history. I’ll certainly be buying a few tickets!”

Fiona Brown, Head of Guide Dogs NI, added: “This amazing group of people have inspired the entire Guide Dogs family and community of supporters in NI (and further afield) with their efforts. They have truly demonstrated their passion and determination for Guide Dogs and our work. Words seem inadequate to fully articulate what this group have achieved and we are so proud of their efforts and success.”

There’s still time to donate to this amazing adventure over at