They had expected to return on a scheduled passenger flight but Gary decided they deserved a treat and splashed out 50,000 to hire a private jet. The group raised a staggering 1.5 million for Comic Relief with their climb
Photo: Getty Images
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It was the end of a long journey as the jubilant star climbers, who included Ben Shepherd and Boyzone star Ronan Keating, touched down at RAF Northolt in West London on Monday
Photo: Getty Images

Gary Barlow hires private jet to fly weary Kilimanjaro trekkers home

10 MARCH 2009
Special feature on the Comic Relief team's feat

Still buzzing from the enormous achievement of conquering the 19,000ft peak of Kilimanjaro, there was a special surprise in store for Cheryl Cole and the rest of the celebrity fundraising team. Take That star Gary Barlow delighted the weary trekkers by chartering a a special plane to take them home from Africa.

The nine team members, who included TV presenter Ben Shepherd, Denise Van Outen and Boyzone singer Ronan Keating, received a heroes' welcome when they touched down in at RAF Northolt in West London on Monday.

They had expected to return on a scheduled passenger flight, but Gary decided they deserved a treat and splashed out 50,000 to hire the private jet. "Everyone was shattered after the climb and not looking forward to the long flight," says a source. "So Gary decided to surprise them. A chartered jet from Africa doesn't come cheap, but Gary was happy to pay the money."

"To be back in a warm room in the UK is brilliant," said Gary, as the red nose-wearing team gathered to talk about the trip. "It's brilliant to be back," agreed Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles, who was visibly slimmer than when he left the UK for the expedition.

Recounting their aches and pains as they travelled home, Chris' radio colleague Fearne Cotton said: "walking to the toilet was sheer agony". But TV presenter Ben added: "The fact that we had a toilet on the plane was just such a luxury."

The celebrity team, which raised a whopping 1.5 million for Comic Relief during their climb, will meet Prime Minister Gordon Brown in Downing Street on Thursday. A documentary about their trip will be shown on TV the same night.

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