Northern Ireland

Trainee solicitor set to trek up Kilimanjaro on behalf of Down's Syndrome Association

Conor Cleverley with his aunt Sue Cleverley. Conor will climb Mount Kilimanjaro on behalf of the Down's Syndrome Association in July.
Conor Cleverley with his aunt Sue Cleverley. Conor will climb Mount Kilimanjaro on behalf of the Down's Syndrome Association in July.

A trainee solicitor is planning to scale Africa's highest mountain to raise vital funds for a charity close to his heart. 

Conor Cleverley from Newry is undertaking nine months of fundraising events for the Down's Syndrome Association - including a trek up Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

He will take on the climb at the beginning of July and hopes to raise £10,000.

“My aunt Sue has Down’s Syndrome. She is 57 years old and comes from a generation where charities like the Down’s Syndrome Association have been so prevalent and important in her life”.

“In the 1960s, when Sue was born Down’s Syndrome, people were not treated equally and it’s thanks to charities like the Down’s Syndrome Association which have advocated for change that they can now live full and happy lives.”

At 22 years old, Conor is in full-time employment with O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors while undergoing training at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies.

He was also a professional Irish dancer and toured with Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance in 2020. He also placed fifth in the Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha World Irish Dancing Championships in April last year.

“I always like to have a cause and be driven and I’ve only recently retired from competitive Irish dancing, so I didn’t want to get into a habit of not being proactive anymore.”

“I think being able to multi-task is a brilliant skill and if you don’t do it now you’ll never do it because you’ll always make up an excuse.”

It will take Conor eight days to complete the hike up Mount Kilimanjaro. It is the highest free-standing mountain in the world. 

“I’m really excited to do the climb, it’s something off the bucket list.”

However, the practicalities of this challenge appear to be a cause for concern.

“I dread having to sleep in a tent and not having proper toilets and I’m sure nobody will want to smell me by day eight, but it’s all part of the experience.” 

In addition to the climb, Conor has held many fundraisers and activities to raise money for Down’s Syndrome Association over the last nine months.

Chief Executive of the charity Carol Boys has said: "We are incredibly grateful to Conor for his fundraising efforts, and that’s before he’s climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.”

“From dance classes to raffles, quizzes to CrossFit, Conor has pulled out all the stops to raise money for the Down’s Syndrome Association.”

Much of Conor’s fundraising centres around Irish dancing as a tribute to his aunt Sue.

“My aunt Sue loves dancing, it’s her passion as much as it is mine.”

So far, Conor has raised £7,975 for the Down's Syndrome Association, not far off his target.

“I think raising £10,000 at the age of 22 would be such an amazing experience…but anything is better than nothing.”