AN EXCLUSIVE screening will tell the story of a gruelling expedition up the highest mountain in Ethiopia by two Hampshire adventurers.

The film titled ‘Alex Lewis- Mountain’, produced by the acclaimed, award-winning film director Simon Ratigan, documents expedition of Hampshire residents Alex Lewis and David Collinson up Ras Dashen.

Ras Dashen is Ethiopia’s tallest mountain at 4,550m tall, rising above the Simien mountains of Northern Ethiopia.

Hampshire Chronicle: Alex Lewis climbing Ras Dashen

The 90-minute film covers the journey of amputee Alex Lewis from Stockbridge and David Collinson from Twyford and how they overcome countless challenges, preparing for the expedition and on the mountain itself, pushing themselves and their equipment to the limits whilst on the roof of Africa.

‘Alex Lewis- Mountain’ is the first documentary Simon Ratigan has directed. Ratigan’s previous commercial films have seen him listed as one of the top ten directors in London.

The 14-day expedition took place in October 2019, six years after Alex developed Septicaemia from Strep A Toxic Shock Syndrome. Seven months of lifesaving surgery saw Alex lose his left arm above the elbow, his right arm below the elbow and both legs above the knee as well as having facial reconstruction where the infection took over his face and limbs.

The Hampshire duo tackled the mountain with 19-year-old Emebet Ale Dires, a double amputee and Ethiopian wheelchair basketballer.

Hampshire Chronicle: Alex Lewis climbing Ras Dashen

Co-founder of Experience Hampshire, David said: “People should watch the film because it’s entertaining, inspiring and encourages you to say you know what if Alex can do that, I can overcome whatever challenges are in front of me because we all have our own personal mountains in front of us.

“The film is really about overcoming challenges. In Ethiopia there is an attitude that disabled people maybe cursed and the determination shown by an Ethiopian double amputee Emebet for her to overcome the cultural issues that she’s faced being an amputee to go on to become a star basketball player and in particular the support she got from her mother when her mother had been told to give her away after she lost her legs.”

To combat the mountain’s tricky terrain, masters students from the University of Southampton were enlisted to develop a special, off-road solar assisted handcycle for Alex to use.

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Looking back on the experience, 56-year-old David said: “Ultimately, the hand cycle did a good job. It went over terrain that I think was far more difficult than the students had designed for. We’ll see in the film that we had to go through incredibly deep mud and deal with very difficult conditions. There were lots of ups and downs along the way. This thing was designed from scratch and built from a blank sheet of paper, and we ended up flying round Ethiopia on it.”

Hampshire Chronicle: Alex Lewis in Ethiopia

The screening hosted by Experience Hampshire will take place at 6.30pm on June 23 at The Arc, in Winchester.

Tickets can be purchased from the Experience Hampshire website.

All proceeds will go towards the Murray Parish Trust, the chosen charity for the pair’s next challenge ‘Namib 500’- a 500km journey round the Namib desert in July.

The Murray Parish Trust looks to support the treatment and emergency care of ill children in the South of England.

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