A TEAM of workmates is about to scale the highest mountain in Africa in memory of a colleague who died last year.

The workers had planned to scale Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, with experienced York mountaineer John Taylor.

But tragically, Mr Taylor, 48, never got to make the African climb with his workmates. He died in July when he was among nine climbers who lost their lives in an avalanche on Mont Blanc, in France.

Mr Taylor died alongside his friend, Stephen Barber, 47. They both lived in Pear Tree Avenue, Upper Poppleton, York.

Mr Taylor’s friend and work colleague David Pickard, 51, group director of operations at Hartlepool-based Vela Housing Group where Mr Taylor worked, said they had planned to undertake the trip together.

He said: “John and I were instrumental in planning this particular trip.

“John was going to do the trip with us and this time last year we sat down to plan it out. We have a flag to take to the top with John’s face on it as well as the Daisy Chain charity logo.

“The Vela Group has supported the charity over the past year by taking part in a range of different fundraising activities and are hoping to raise more than £20,000 in total.”

The Daisy Chain project provides support for autistic children and their families.

Mr Pickard will be joined by 12 colleagues in tackling the 20,000ft mountain - the world’s highest free-standing mountain.

Mr Pickard said: “We have been training for it, but we are all concerned about the effects of altitude sickness, because it doesn’t matter how much you train, if it’s going to get you, it’ll get you. I am sure we will be all right, though.”

As The Press reported at the time, Mr Taylor and Mr Barber were in a 28-strong group caught in an avalanche in the Mont Blanc massif.

Mr Taylor was originally from Manchester but moved to Poppleton in 2003 and worked as a finance director for Vela Group.

The team set off today and hope to reach the mountain’s summit next Saturday.

To make a donation go to www.justgiving.com/velakilimanjaroclimb