Friday, 26 November 2010


In December a Newcastle councillor will be taking on the world’s highest mountain in aid of north east cancer charity the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

Dipu Ahad from Elswick is trekking to Everest base camp, which is more than 5,550m above sea level where acute mountain sickness (AMS) poses a serious risk.

Intense preparation for this tough physical challenge is vital and Dipu is undertaking a strenuous diet and fitness regime with advice from Northumbria University’s Sports Science experts.

Not only that, the university is now equipped to acclimatise him for the difficult environmental conditions he will face thanks to a new state-of-the-art environmental chamber which was installed this week.

Dr Glyn Howatson, exercise physiologist and Laboratory Director in the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, explains: “MyPhD student Jamie Tallent and I have been putting Dipu through his paces to get him in peak condition for his trek to Everest Base Camp.

“And we can now help him even further using our new environmental chamber which is the only one of its kind in the North East and is able to simulate heat, cold, humidity and altitude environments.

“We’re thrilled to have it as it makes it possible for us to simulate almost any environment on the earth’s surface here in Newcastle.

“It will give the team an idea about how Dipu will respond to the challenge of ‘thinner air’ and how much time he will need to acclimatise to the dizzy heights of Everest. The harder he finds it now, the more time he will need to invest in his preparation.”

The new environmental chamber at Northumbria University will be used for projects including research into physical and mental response to occupational tasks in challenging environments, acclimatisation and support for teaching so students can experience at first-hand what it is like to conduct simple tasks in physically demanding conditions.

It also offers opportunities for research into medical conditions like respiratory diseases, testing equipment in extreme conditions and will provide the region’s athletes with a facility to acclimatise to heat, cold and altitude prior to competition.

Dipu says: “I’ll be fulfilling a personal ambition when I reach Everest Base Camp. The training is very hard as I have been undertaking a strict and strenuous training and diet regime but I’m very determined and Glyn and his team have been hugely helpful. This time last year my body fat was 31.3 per cent and now I’m down to 17.9 per cent,I know their training advice is definitely working for me.

“I will be taking the more difficult and dangerous route to the base camp via Gokyo Lakes which adds an extra three to four days than the normal trekking route. In December the weather will be colder than the normal peak trekking season – all of which adds to the challenge.

“I’m also committed to raising as much money in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation as possible through the trek. It’s an important charity to me personally and I will do anything I can to help fund research into cancer and to help patients in the north east is a privilege.

“Cancer is not a disease which is often openly discussed in the Asian community and I’d like to change that too. There needs to be more awareness with regards to cancer in these communities and that help and advice is readily available.”

Dipu is funding his trek himself, including flights, food and accommodation, and every penny of sponsorship will go directly to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. To sponsor Dipu please visit