Our Burns Supper on Kilimanjaro is going to be summit spectacular

AS Burns Suppers go, it will certainly be summit special.

A group of 20 adventurers were today leaving Edinburgh for Africa to stage what they hope will be the highest mass tribute to the Bard on top of Kilimanjaro.

The group, six of whom are from the Capital, have been training for a year to undertake the mammoth 19,000ft climb by tackling Munros and taking regular walks up Arthur's Seat.

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Now they are ready to fly to Tanzania, where they will endure an eight-day climb to the top of Africa's highest peak and enjoy haggis, neeps and tatties - all cooked by Michelin-starred chef Andrew Fairlie using a camping stove.

It is believed that the challenge - undertaken by Witchery restaurateur James Thomson, Anabel Meikle, manager of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, and Annette Lamb, marketing manager of Harvey Nichols - will make it into the record books for a group supper.

Other Edinburgh participants include Susan Mathieson, managing director of Events Consultants Scotland, Tamara Kobiolke, a senior manager at the Missoni Hotel, and Jane Thomson, director of Fringe By Sea. In addition to the traditional supper, which will take place after they reach the summit on January 15, fellow climber and piper Billy Bell will pipe in the haggis. The dinner will then proceed with the traditional ode to the haggis, The Immortal Memory and a Toast to Lassies. There will also be a whisky tasting to warm up the group, as temperatures are expected to dip as low as -20C.

The group is undertaking the challenge to raise funds for the Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT), which helps talented individuals in the business further their career.

Mr Thomson, who owns the Witchery, the Tower and Prestonfield Hotel said he was doing the challenge to raise money and improve his fitness.

He said: "We've been doing Munros such as Ben Nevis and regularly climbing Arthur's Seat to keep our legs going. I went away to Thailand in November to do a kickboxing course and have a bit of a detox and I've not touched alcohol since then as part of my training.

"We've all been working together and I've got to know people very well. It's quite a challenge but we've been helping each other."

Ms Lamb, from Stockbridge, added: "I decided to give it a go after a few drinks over dinner. My husband thinks I'm bonkers, and I've had a few issues after a fall during one of our walks, but I got back into the swing of things and I'm ready for it now.

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"I'm the oldest taking part at 61, but my doctor said I'm fine. It's for a great cause, and if all goes well I'll climb the Cairngorms for Barnado's when I get back."

Ms Meikle, from Portobello, added: "I'll be holding a wee whisky tasting with the haggis, but I'll have my own sneaky hipflask for the way up."The walkers have so far raised 50,000 and sponsors Simon Howie butchers and Diageo have contributed another 40,000 towards the overall target of 150,000.