A Leeds Trinity alumna and current staff
member is getting ready to face her next physical challenge as part of a
two-year initiative to raise money for local charities and look after her own
mental health in the process.
Gill Barker will take on the task of
running the Leeds Liverpool canal this weekend as part of her 35 Before 35
challenge series, in a bid to raise awareness of mental health and fundraise
for Leeds Mind and Yorkshire Cancer Research. Gill will run 127 miles over the
course of six days, from Sunday 25 August, and will finish the run at the end
of Leeds canal on Friday 30 August.
“I founded 35 Before 35 to work on
myself after neglecting my mental health for far too long,” said Gill. “I don't
want to miss out on opportunities anymore!
“During these challenges I have stepped
out of my comfort zone and they have been a great way to instil some
Gill came up with 35 Before 35 after
watching her cousin in the 2018 London Marathon and feeling inspired by the
runners and their individual stories. She wanted to make an impact and help
people, push her physical and mental boundaries, and improve her own mental health,
which she admits to previously neglecting.
In the last year, Gill has completed 26
out of 35 challenges and has raised over £2,000 for charity through many
physical activities such as: Coast-to-Coast cycle, Brighton Marathon, climbing
Mount Snowdon and completing a 24-hour run. She has also overcome several
mental challenges as part of the initiative, which include: public speaking on
BBC Radio Leeds and at fundraising events, improving her nutrition and
overcoming her fear of heights at Go Ape.
Reflecting on her experience of
completing the challenges so far, Gill added: “I’m hoping that I’ll show both
myself and others that we really can achieve anything we put our minds to. As
the saying goes, growth doesn’t happen in comfort zones!
“I’ve been really look forward to this
run for just over a year. It’s a shame I’m now a little injured as this is
adding to my anxiety levels but I’m going to give it my all!”
Gill studied Marketing at Leeds Trinity,
graduating in 2006. She now works at the University as a Senior Marketing
Officer and has carried out all the challenges, which are all self-funded,
whilst working full-time.
Brett Arnall, Alumni Relations Officer
at Leeds Trinity University, said: "This is an amazing story from an
amazing graduate and colleague. Having suffered mental health issues myself I
can empathise with what Gill has gone through. The challenges she has set
herself and overcome are monumental.
“I don't think Gill realises fully how
much admiration so many people have for how she has challenged herself in so
many ways. The fact that she is raising significant funds for great causes at
the same time says a great deal about the type of person she is.”
Gill will start the 127-mile run on
Sunday (25 August) and it will culminate at the end of Leeds canal on Friday 30
August. Her final challenge will take place on Saturday 14 March 2020, tying in
with her 35th birthday, the details of which she is keeping firmly hidden for
To find out more about 35 Before 35,
If you would like to donate to Gill’s
mission, please visit her fundraising page here.