Leeds Trinity alumna and staff member Gill Barker has raised more than £5,000 as part of a two-year initiative to raise money for local charities and raise awareness of mental health.
Senior Marketing Officer Gill set up 35 Before 35, a series of 35 mental and physical challenges to improve her own mental health, push her mental and physical boundaries, help people, and raise money for Leeds Mind and Yorkshire Cancer Research.
Gill has taken on many physical challenges including: Cycling Mont Ventoux; running the 127-mile Leeds Liverpool canal; climbing Mount Snowdon; and completing the Honolulu Marathon in Hawaii. She has also taken on mental challenges such as: Public speaking on BBC Radio Leeds; overcoming her fear of heights at Go Ape; and abseiling at How Stean Gorge.
For her final challenge, Gill took on a “tri-life-athlon”; a 270-mile triathlon route starting in her hometown of Chatham in Kent to Yorkshire, where she now works and lives. The challenge culminated outside Leeds Town Hall on Saturday 14 March, coinciding with her 35th birthday. She was greeted at the finish line by friends, colleagues, charity representatives and her family including her twin sister Helen, to celebrate their birthday together.
Reflecting on her final challenge, Gill said: “Looking back it was a tough week full of obstacles; from gale force winds making it so hard to cycle, to my knee giving up on me over the last three days of running. But despite all of this, I really enjoyed challenging myself. My dad was great and kept me company on his bike for the full 270 miles and my mum was so supportive and encouraging. I couldn’t have done it without them.
“I was so touched and overwhelmed by everyone who was waiting for us at the finish line on the steps outside of Leeds Town Hall. I was blown away and it really was the best way to celebrate the end of what has been a great two years. I’ve had the most incredible support from friends and family, and I can’t thank them all enough!”
Charlie Jackett, Events Manager at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “We’re all amazed and inspired by Gill's dedication and passion raising money to help save lives in Yorkshire. It's been incredible to follow her journey over the past 18 months and I’m glad we could be there at the finish to greet her. The money raised will help fund vital research to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in Yorkshire.”
Brett Arnall, Alumni Relations Officer at Leeds Trinity University, said: “What Gill has achieved in the last two years is really quite remarkable. As a close friend and colleague, I have seen her work extremely hard and push herself to the limit, to really make a difference for two worthy charities and raise awareness of mental health. In these challenging times we are currently facing, Gill’s story is so inspiring and shows how special she is.”
Gill now hopes to take on one challenge every year to continue her fundraising for Leeds Mind and Yorkshire Cancer Research and is already in the process of planning for next year.
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