A determined mum-of-three, keen to step out of her comfort zone, is taking on a Trek to Nepal for charity this Autumn and has raised more than £13k in the process.
Fifty-three-year-old Jillian Barry, from Green End Road, Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead, has already completed five Midnight Walks for The Hospice of St Francis and has volunteered in its kitchens for the last five years, serving meals and drinks to patients and visitors in its Inpatient Unit for four hours a month.
But since her husband John completed the London-Paris Bike Ride for the Berkhamsted-based charity two years ago, she has always harboured a desire to push a few boundaries of her own.
“I’ve seen good friends pushing themselves out of their comfort zone by doing challenges for the Hospice like Strictly Learn Dancing and I thought what could I do?,” she says.
“I’ve walked and done a bit of short-distance running but I’ve never trekked any long distances. I decided it’s the right time in my life to do something out of my comfort zone, see some of the world and achieve something pretty special! I’ve always wanted to visit Nepal and I just can’t wait!’ she explains.
In the past, Jillian has raised £200 or £300 by doing the Hospice’s Midnight Walk, but this time she says, she thought she’d “go for gold” and has set herself a massive £15k target.
It helped that her husband John, 52, happens to be MD of Hemel-based mechanical and electrical engineers Emico, and that Jillian is his PA, so when he decided to join her on her adventure of a lifetime, they agreed they’d call in a few favours from their business network.
“With help from my daughter Ciara and work colleagues Viki Allen and ex-colleague Jade Chandler, I just rang all his suppliers, labour agencies, everyone I could think of and am squeezing every penny out of them that I can,” she says. “I’m not taking no for an answer!
“I’ve told them that since becoming a volunteer at the Hospice five years ago, I’ve see first hand the marvellous work that it does, providing professional support and care for people with life-limiting illness. But all its vital works costs money and more than 80% of its £4.8m running costs comes from voluntary donations.
“The response has been amazing with family, friends and work colleagues being so supportive. Within a few weeks I’d raised £3k, within a couple of months it was £5k, then it crept up to £10k. Now, with over 100 generous donations ranging from £10 to £500, from companies like Site Operative Solutions, Edmundsons Electrical, Blakley Electrics, MPM Fire & Electrical Ltd, Mounthill Engineers BEW Electrical, Thrifty Car & Van Rental and Kelvinair, I’m up to £13,630.69.
“The donation that really touched my heart was a full week’s pocket money from my work colleague’s son, aged 13 years, Joel Sicka. Joel thought that what John and I are doing is very brave and thoughtful, trekking all the way in Nepal to help those not so fortunate and getting our hands dirty and mucking in.”
“I just want to make people aware of what they can do if they push themselves. None of us know when we might need the Hospice’s care.”
The couple have started their training, with John cycling up to three times a week and Jillian walking long distances at any given opportunity. “I’m enjoying the challenge of getting into shape, ready to tackle the foothills of the Himalayas!” she says.
Leaving on 31st October and returning on 11 November 2015, the Trek is led by experienced travel firm, Different Travel. It includes a five-day trek through the lush alpine forest of the Ghorepani Poon Hill trail surrounded by the stunning snow-capped peaks of the Annapurna region with panoramic views across the Himalayas from Poon Hill.
Afterwards, the group will spend two days volunteering at the Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital just outside Kathmandu which supports terminally-ill patients. They will help with much-needed refurbishments where basic tasks like repainting rooms or improving kitchen facilities will make a real difference.
Claire Jones, Community Fundraiser at the Hospice, said, “The Nepal Trek offers people the chance to explore a fascinating country, meet new people and enjoy shared experiences on a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
“I am delighted that Jillian and John will be joining us and that many of their business contacts are supporting us too. It’s a fantastic opportunity to do something different and make a valuable contribution to The Hopsice of St Francis. The money raised will help us edge towards the £4.8m we need every year to fund our free care for people living with life-limiting illness in Herts and Bucks both here at the Hospice, in their homes and in the community.”
Anyone interested in joining next year’s Hospice Trek to Machu Picchu (leaving in September 2016) can find out more on the Hospice’s website at www.stfrancis.org.uk/peru or call 01442 869555 or email Claire Jones at Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org. It costs just £390 to register with a minimum sponsorship requirement of £3990 to go on the trip.
If you’d like to find out more, please visit www.stfrancis.org.uk/events, call 01442 869555 or email Claire Jones at email@example.com
To sponsor Jillian and John visit their Just Giving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/Get-Jillian-And-John-To-Nepal/