December 16, 2015, by Lindsay Brooke

Is it a world record? High hopes for hula hooper.

Rhona Mackay, a student from the University of Nottingham, is waiting confirmation that she has become a world record holder for hula-hooping at the highest altitude ever – 6,057m high on top of a volcano in Peru.

Rhona, who is from Warrington, joined a group of 18 Peruvian and international charity workers from a Peruvian NGO called Helping Overcome Obstacles Peru (HOOP) for the record attempt. As well as becoming world record holders, the team raised more than $11,000 for the charity, which works with children and their families in a disadvantaged community in the city of Arequipa.

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The world record attempt took place on 7 December 6,057m high on top of the Chachani volcano near Arequipa – Peru’s second largest city.

Dr Beatriz Power in the Department of Spanish, Portuguese & Latin American Studies, said: “Rhona is a great student, friendly and a pleasure to have in class. Despite having never doubted that she would achieve great things I was never expecting something like this! Not only a world record but to have raised so much money for such a great cause, we should all be proud to have such adventurous students.”

Dr Eduardo Guevara, Coordinator for Spanish Language in the Department of Spanish, Portuguese
and Latin American Studies, said: “We are delighted to hear about Rhona’s great achievement. Many congratulations to her.”

Rhona who is studying Hispanic Studies and History is in Peru for her year abroad.  

The team set out on the expedition on 6 December, and after a few hours rest at base camp, climbed through the night to reach the summit at 7:00am on 7 December 2015. Of the 18 people in the team, 14 made it to the summit to hopefully hula-hoop their way into the record books.

Rhona’s account of how it happened

The day of the ascent, we got up at 1:30am and prepared for a five hour climb to the summit. At one point I wasn’t sure if I would make it. Many of us were suffering from the effects of altitude – headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, and dizziness. But we all tried to encourage each other to keep going. It was an amazing feeling when we made it to the top. The conditions for hula-hooping were perfect – clear skies and almost no wind. We hula-hooped for at least 30 seconds to secure the record and I still really can’t believe we did it!

Raising awareness for charity

Aside from becoming world record holders, the team undertook the challenge to raise awareness for HOOP. HOOP is a small NGO working in the city of Arequipa in the south of Peru, with the vision of breaking the cycle of poverty through education, health and social programs. Its main activities centre around a free after-school program, which teaches English, art, sports, homework help, science and other activities for 100 children and their families. The charity operates with the help of 20 volunteers from Peru and all over the world.

 The team had an initial fundraising goal of $10,000, but surpassed the goal three weeks before the world record attempt.

Tom Hornbrook, Director of Communications and Development at HOOP, said: “Climbing Chachani was a huge physical and mental challenge for the team, and I was very impressed by everyone’s strength and commitment. It was amazing to see the generosity of people around the world in supporting this great achievement. With their help, we surpassed our ambitious fundraising goal, with all the money raised helping us have a real impact on the lives of children and their families in the community.”

 You can still help support the fundraising campaign at, with 100 per cent of funds helping sustain HOOP. The money raised by the campaign will be spent on school rental, schoolbooks and supplies, teacher training, a new maths program, and a new social work program. The social work program is a new service being offered by HOOP to improve the wellbeing of families in the community.

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