Sunday, 11 December 2011

Rossett School's Sponsored CrossFit WOD

Rossett School's Year 8 didn't know really what they were in for when they bravely trooped into their Sports Hall on Wednesday 7th December for their sponsored CrossFit WOD (work-out for the day) in aid of Women for Women International.

As I've said in previous posts, CrossFit focusses on strength, endurance and high intensity exercise and was a crucial part of my training for the Everest Trek. So when Rob Beever, the Head of Year 8 at Rossett, invited me to talk to the year group about my trek and fundraising and suggested the pupils might like to raise money through a sponsored challenge, I immediately asked my coaches Andy and Pete from CrossFit HG3 in Pannal ( if they could help. And they immediately said yes!

One of the great things about CrossFit is that it's totally scalable so that whatever a person’s age and level of fitness they get a great workout and great results.  It’s also brilliant for children and teenagers and the gym in Pannal already runs a thriving CrossFit Kids club.

Together with 7 of their CrossFit fanatic members, who very generously gave up their time to help, Andy and Pete managed to get nearly 200 12 and 13 year-old pupils through a really tough work-out. They did an 8 minute amrap of 8 squats, 8 sit-ups and 8 burpees. That means continuously doing those 3 exercises for 8 minutes, which is no mean feat.

All the pupils who took part received a Certificate of Achievement after their workout. They are now in the process of collecting their sponsorship money.

One of the teachers couldn't resist changing into his gym kit and having a go - he's the one saluting and looking a bit pink on the far left in this photo. Well done Mr West!

I'm so grateful to everyone who was involved in this - the pupils, the teachers, the CrossFit HG3 guys. It was a brilliant fun way to raise awareness about the work of Women for Women International and raise money too. Also, a special thank you to my friend, Chris Butler, a Teaching Assistant at Rossett, without whom this might never have happened.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Everest Trek Slideshow

I've at last managed to put a slideshow of photos taken on my trek onto this blog (with a lot of help from my sister - Nicola. Thank you Nic!). It's on the right-hand side under 'About me'.

Also, thank you to my fellow trekkers - some of the best photos were taken by them. 


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Talks and Fundraising Success in Local Schools

Last Wednesday I was lucky enough to be invited to do a talk to Years 10 and 11 at Leeds Grammar School about my trek and fundraising for Women for Women International.

To be honest I generally feel I'd rather eat my right arm than talk to large groups of people. I can't project my voice far at all and I rely on lots of notes in case I lose my train of thought and my ability to find the right words. So it was no surprise when I had an anxiety dream the night before about getting stuck in the toilet and arriving back at the hall a couple of minutes late to find everyone had gone!

Thankfully my dream did not come true. I was warmly welcomed and given lots of help to set up my powerpoint presentation, and also a microphone - yeah! And the talk went really well.

Even better still, the students had a collection the following day and raised a fantastic £388.96 for Women for Women International. And even better than that - the amount has been doubled as the school paid the money in to the Big Give  - a website that is open for one week only which enables donations to be doubled!

Thank you so much to all the teachers and pupils at Leeds Grammar School who dug deep in their pockets.

With their generosity and all the tremendous support and generosity I've had from a number of other people recently I'm up to just over £9,370 and within spitting distance of my £10K fundraising target!

Watch this space...... I'm waiting for photos from Rossett School in Harrogate before I post details about the amazing sponsored Crossfit challenge that nearly 200 Year 8 pupils completed today to raise money for Women for Women International.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Everest Base Camp Photos

Here I am in a triumphant stance at the rock marking Everest Base Camp. Yes I really did it!

Our aim in trekking to Everest Base Camp has been about more than just raising funds for Women for Women International. We wanted to raise awareness of the need for real investment in women in order to bring about sustainable peace and development in countries affected by conflict. In taking on the challenge of getting to Everest Base Camp we wanted to connect with the women in these countries who are facing their own much greater challenges, to show how we are connected despite our differences and how we can support each other to bring about a more peaceful and equitable world for everyone.
The team attaching the flags at Everest Base Camp

So we brought with us on the trek a chain of prayer flags bearing messages from women all over the world; women from different backgrounds and walks of life but with a united voice. Some of the flags were made by the participants in Women for Women’s programmes, displaying their visions of a peaceful and prosperous future. Others showed messages of support, solidarity and hope from Women for Women’s supporters from the UK, the USA and around the world. We attached these to the prayer flags already left at Everest Base Camp and have left them there for everyone who comes to see.


This flag will be taken to the summit and then auctioned to raise money for WFWI
In April 2012 a great supporter of WFWI - Chris Jackson - will be climbing to the summit of Everest and will be taking with him a flag that all of us in the Everest Trek team have signed. This will then be returned to the UK and auctioned to raise more money.

Here are some more photos showing some of the amazing scenery on our route to Base Camp, me with Sue (the trek leader), and our fantastic group of Sherpas who helped us every step of the way.

Friday, 21 October 2011

I'm back! I did it! We all did it!

I got home late last night after more or less 24 hours' travelling and my very dirty washing is whirring round in the machine as I type this. The process of getting back to normal has truly begun.

It's really strange but my amazing Everest adventure already feels so distant. We did our last long hike - a 6-7 hour one culminating in a seemingly never-ending upward climb - on Monday, before flying back to Kathmandu on Tuesday for some much-desired rest and relaxtion. And it's exactly a week ago that I stood with all the women in our team at Everest Base Camp and we hugged and laughed together and celebrated reaching our goal.

Don't feel able to make much sense now as my body clock is all skew-whiff but I promise to say lots more very soon about the whole experience. Just wanted to let people know as soon as I could that I'm back safe and very happy to have done what I set out to do. I took loads of photos and will sort though them within the next few days and put some of the best ones onto this blog.

I've had a brilliant couple of weeks in Nepal and am so glad I took a risk and said yes to this challenge. But I must say it's great to be home with Glyn and Gingie again and sleeping in my own bed last night was just wonderful! In fact it was so good that I think I should let the washing take care of itself and head upstairs for a nap....

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

I'm off!

Well - today's the day! It's been exactly six months since I signed up for this amazing adventure and I'm about to set off for Manchester Airport. I arrive in Kathmandu at 13.45 tomorrow.

This is me with my huge kit bag, rucksack and Gingie lookalike mascot all ready to go.

I've had a few days of veering between panic and excitement. I was up at midnight on Saturday trying to change the first leg of my flight (from Manchester to Heathrow) because the time is quite tight to get across from Terminal 1 to 4 to catch my connecting flight to Delhi. Anyway it turned out to be incredibly expensive so I'm just going to sprint for it!

There's also been a lot of packing, unpacking and re-packing, as it's been hard to fit everything in. It's mainly equipment; I don't seem to have many clothes and I've only 3 pairs of shoes including my boots - honestly!

You'll be glad to know I've practised with my shee-wee and pee bottle and I'm proud to report that the last few attempts were trickle-free. This skill will come in handy in the middle of the night at -24 degrees when I can't face going outside for a pee!

Looking back over the last 6 months of fundraising and training, although I've had some worries from time to time, it's been a great experience. I've had a lot of fun and I've learnt a tremendous amount.  I'm up to £7,325 now which feels really good. There's no way I could have got to this point without the support of my family and friends and so many other people who have been generous with their time and money.

So far the trek team has raised just over £74,000! Which we're all very pleased about. When we get back there'll be lots of opportunities hopefully to talk to groups about our adventure and inspire more people to help us reach our 100,000 target.

I'll try to post on this blog while I'm on the trek but it might be difficult as only our trek leader, Sue, will have a laptop with her and the internet cafes are very expensive. I'll be keeping a diary which I will type up when I return. Sue will be blogging when she can and you can read what we're up to by going to her website -

And finally.... do have a look online at the hotel where we'll be staying on Wednesday night and for two glorious nights after the trek is over. It's the Yak and Yeti Hotel - We set off on Thursday for Everest and the not quite so luxurious facilities along the way and I might have to be dragged off kicking and screaming!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Fundraising Finale (well, pre-trek anyway!)

Pateley Bridge Charity Dance on 16th September
Glyn and I and my friend Lizzie Rosewood had a great night when we helped out at the Pateley Bridge Charity Dance, which this month was in aid of Women for Women International UK. A few days later the organising committee sent me a cheque for £450 to go towards my fundraising target - absolutely brilliant!

It was an amazing evening! The hall was beautifully decorated, the music (thanks to Elizabeth Harrison) was delightful and the dancing was lovely to watch and take part in. We really enjoyed having a go at some of the Old Time and Sequence dances. I don't think we'll be called up to put the pros though their paces on 'Strictly' any time soon, but we didn't embarrass ourselves too much!

I'm so grateful to Brian, Terry and all the dance regulars who welcomed us and showed us the ropes, and also to all the helpers in the kitchen who produced a very tasty supper. Thank you also to Steve McEnaney - - who took some great photos as you can see -

Glyn, Lizzie & me selling tickets 

Me, Brian & Elizabeth

Ceilidh at The Cairn Hotel on 25th September
My legs and feet are still recovering from this one! The Dark Horse Ceilidh Band really put us through our paces. Right from the start everyone threw themselves into the spirit of the evening - there was no hesitating or waiting for others to get up first. And we raised the fabulous sum of £744!

Ray Black, the leader of the band, had organised for a group of Molly Dancers to entertain us at the mid-evening break and they were great fun to watch. Molly Dancing steps look a bit like Morris Dancing but the costumes are very different. The dancing is associated with the annual Plough Monday tradition (the first Monday after Twelth Night), during which young farmhands would drag a plough round the local villages, crying "a penny for the plough boys", and if no penny was forthcoming cut a furrow across the cheapskate's front lawn.

To everyone who came and danced and everyone who provided music, raffle prizes, food, the venue and help with selling tickets - THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Some lovely photos taken by Steve again really capture the spirit of evening perfectly -
Molly Dancers

Monday, 19 September 2011

Great North Run - my story and photos

Still feeling elated following my PB of 2.00.40 at the Great North Run yesterday! It was a great improvement on last year's PB of 2.07.35. Those elite athletes had better watch out - I was an hour behind them last year and now I'm only 53 minutes behind!!

I put most of my improvement down to CrossFit. I think it has really strengthened me both physically and mentally. It's made a big difference to my running and has been fantastic preparation for my Everest Base Camp challenge. I'm so grateful to Pete and Andy at CrossFit HG3 - - for their patient coaching and encouragement.

Had a lovely bath last night and a good night's sleep and overall I don't feel too bad this morning. My joints feel a bit creaky but my muscles aren't too achey even though I've yet to do some proper stretching. I've got a streaming cold though.

I've been fighting this cold for probably over a week with various homeopathic and ayurvedic remedies and they worked sufficiently to get me through the Great North Run. In the first half of the race it was sunny and warm, but we all got absolutely soaked in the second half and after I finished I got quite cold and this is the result.

For the first few miles of the race I felt strong and my pace was too fast really. I was aiming to keep steady at about 9.10 minutes per mile but I was doing quite a bit under 9.00. In the middle part of the race I was still ahead of schedule but by 10 miles I was just about at the time I'd planned for a sub 2 hour run. The course is generallly quite hilly and although the steepest hills are nearer the beginning there's a steady climb from mile 10 to just before you reach mile 12 and this was when I started to slow up. Then right at the end there was quite a jam and it was hard to get round people, although I don't think this cost me more than about 10 seconds really.

Before the race
The race has just started and I'm on the left

At the end I was quite wobbly and emotional and cold and it seemed to take forever to get to the Traidcraft tent in the Charity Village where I was meeting my husband Glyn. I ran for Traidcraft this year which is a charity I've supported for a while now. It was lovely to see Glyn waiting for me there. He said he'd managed to catch a glimpse of the back of me at the end and had cheered me on but I'd looked really focussed and hadn't noticed. Charlotte and the team at the Traidcraft tent were just brilliant, providing lots of praise and TLC in the form of warm tea, loads of yummy snacks and a wonderful massage!

Tired, happy and soaked!

Thank you to Traidcraft for a much needed massage
 We finished the day in the best possible way, with fish and chips at Coleman's in South Shields town centre. Absolutely delicious!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

40 seconds over target but still EUPHORIC!

Well, I got pretty close to my target of under 2 hours for the Great North Run today, but that last 0.1 of a mile over 13 miles did for me! I managed 2.00.40. I did my absolute best though so am feeling elated!

Got lots to tell and photos to show and will post more tomorrow. Am now much in need of a hot bath and an early night.

Friday, 16 September 2011

News, news, news...

I've had some great publicity in the Harrogate Advertiser today.

The dance in Pateley Bridge this evening is listed in the What's On section of the Week-End guide; I've got a good mention in an article about the Great North Run on Sunday, together with a photo showing me in training at Crossfit HG3 with Pete and Andy; and there's a nice article about my Ceilidh on 25th September, telling people how to buy tickets. So I'm well-pleased!

However, the Advertiser has told the world - well, Harrogate & District anyway - that I'm climbing to the summit of Everest and not just the Base Camp! As long as no-one holds me to this....

Another thing is that when I spoke on the phone to the reporter who wrote the article about the Great North Run I opened my big mouth and said that I really wanted to do it in less than 2 hours. And she's quoted me as saying this! Well, I'm definitely not climbing to the top of Everest so I've simply got to do under 2 hours in the Great North Run!  I managed a sub-hour 6.5 mile run last Sunday so all I have to do is run another 6.5 miles at the same pace. Should be a doddle!

And finally, some really good news. The team fundraising total so far is nearly £42K! Two team members have actually reached their target and are still going strong. I wish I could say the same but overall I'm very pleased with how my fundraising has gone and the amazing support I've had from so many people. I'm delighted to say that I'm just a few quid short of £5K now - so nearly half-way to my £10K target. With the Pateley dance tonight and the Ceilidh next week-end I hope to be up to somewhere between £6K and £7K before I set off on the trek on 4th October. Then when I return on 20th October it'll be all-systems go with fundraising again until I reach £10K.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


Last week-end I was lucky enough to join 3 other members of the Everest trek team on a training week-end climbing Mount Snowdon. One of the best bits was that to get even more psyched up for our amazing experience we stayed at the Pen-Y-Gwryd Hotel, a traditional mountaineer's hotel at the foot of Mount Snowdon, where Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay trained for the first successful ascent of Mount Everest in 1953.

Me, Erika, Sue and Nora
The plan was to climb Snowdon on the Saturday but this had to be abandoned as the rain just bucketed down all day and it was quite windy too. We went for a walk in the lovely village of Beddgelert instead and stopped off for an obligatory ice cream at an award-winning ice cream parlour, as you can see. Ok, so it wasn't ice cream weather but it would have been rude not to!

The next day when we were all supposed to be travelling home was glorious weather of course!  So we got up early and did as much of the climb as we could manage in the time we had. We think we managed about two-thirds. The week-end was great fun and it was really good to get to know some of the other women with whom I'll be sharing this incredible Everest adventure.

It was a good test of the trek clothing I've recently bought which withstood the elements pretty well and were comfy. Also, my knees were much better than when I did the climb last year so all that work in the Crossfit gym, the yoga, the pilates, etc. has been worthwhile. Here are some more photos of us amidst the awe-inspiring glory of Snowdon.

The clouds have cleared and you can just about see the top of Snowdon (the middle peak)


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Yoga in the garden

Last night's yoga class was one of the best ever. It was warm and sunny enough to go outside so we took our mats, etc. out into Anne-Marie's lovely garden - see

Doing yoga on freshly-mown grass amidst the scent of flowers and the sound of birds and church bells (it must have been a practice night!) was simply blissful.

Here is my class doing various poses -




Hands to Heart pose
Even warrior women over-balance sometimes!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Pampering pulls in the pounds!

D'you like my catchy headline? I'd better not give up my day job eh?

I'm still walking on cloud nine after my Perfect Week-End Treat fundraising event on Saturday! It was brilliant! Loads of lovely women came and spent loads of money and the amount raised so far is £1,038! There's still one donation to come in so I'll post the final amount when it arrives.

I had hoped to get near this kind of figure but you just never know what will happen on the day. 

I'm so grateful to everyone who came and supported the event. And to all the people who worked so hard to make it possible - the therapists, the stall holders, the staff at the Ascot House Hotel and the group of volunteers who helped me. A BIG, BIG THANK YOU TO YOU ALL!

Steve McEnaney - - took some amazing photos throughout the day and I will post some on my blog very soon.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

And more publicity!

Everything's in place for my Perfect Week-End Treat pampering and indulgence afternoon on Saturday, 13th August and I'm getting very excited!

I've had some great publicity thanks to Ali Schofield, the editor at Plush Magazine, whose article in the August edition I mentioned in my previous post. I also want to thank Robin Scott, a reporter at the Harrogate Advertiser, who wrote about the event in Friday's paper (5th August).

Fingers crossed that lots of people have read the articles, put the date in their diaries and are coming to get seriously pampered!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Publicity in Plush Magazine

My Perfect Week-End Treat pampering and indulgence afternoon on Saturday, 13th August has been featured in the August edition of Plush Magazine!

This is a free magazine covering quite a large area - Harrogate, Wetherby, Knaresborough and Ripon - so I'm hoping the article will be read by a large number of women in need of a treat.

It's in the Social Diary section on page 7 of the magazine. And there's also a photo of Sue Harper Todd (Everest trek leader) and me in our Women for Women International T-shirts, which my husband Glyn took in our garden. Having previously not known which end of the camera was which, he's now contemplating a change of career.

You can read the article on the magazine's website -

And here's the photo of us, which was probably about the 10th attempt so our smiles were wearing a bit thin! Thanks Glyn!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Presentation to Harrogate Rotary Club

Sue Harper Todd - the Everest trek leader - and I have been working together on a Power Point Presentation that we could give to groups and organisations about the trek and the work of Women for Women International.

Our aim is to inspire people to donate, come to my fundraising events or organise an event of their own to help me reach my £10,000 fundraising target.

We did our first talk a couple of nights ago to the Rotary Club of Harrogate and I'm pleased to say it was well-received. Many of the members had brought their wives and they were all very welcoming and encouraging. We were given a lovely dinner before we had to sing for our supper! The technology tried to show us who was boss as we were setting up, with the lap-top deciding it didn't want to co-operate, but with some soothing words from a helpful Rotarian (thank you Roger!) it decided to join the party eventually!

Sue with David Hayes, President of Harrogate Rotary Club
Sue showed some incredible slides of her climb to the summit of everest in 2004, followed by an awe-inspiring video of the spectacularly beautiful and extremely difficult and dangerous final stage of the climb. This kind of footage is very rare as the exhaustion climbers feel at this point, not to mention the danger, does not leave much energy left for filming! Sue spoke about how she'd decided she wanted to use this experience to work with a charity and how she'd been impressed by the work of Women for Women International, its aims and the way it is organised.

Me - in full presentation flow

This led nicely into my part of the presentation. I talked about how I came to sign up for the trek and explained the ways in which Women for Women International helps women in war-torn countries. Then I tried to impress them with my training regime and my biceps! Finally I spoke about the various ways they could support me and invited them to come to my fundraising events.

Sue and I hope to do more talks like this. If anyone is interested please do get in touch.

Friday, 22 July 2011

BUPA Great North 10K - a new PB!

Well I did it!

Last Sunday - 17th July - was the BUPA Great North 10K race in Gateshead and I had set myself the target of beating my PB of 54.32 minutes.

My new PB is 53.17 minutes - Yeah!

I'm pleased with this but not THAT pleased. I started too fast as I did the first couple of kilometres in 10 minutes. And I got over-confident and thought maybe I could get close to a 50 minute 10K. The course was really quite hilly, especially at the end, and I just ran out of puff. The weather forecast had been horrendous - strong winds and heavy rain - but actually the wind was fairly light and by the time the race got underway the rain had turned to just a fine drizzle, so I really can't blame the weather.

My target for the Great North Run half marathon in September is to try to get under 2 hours. My current PB for this race is 2.07.35, so I may be aiming too high. But if I can keep free from injury and keep improving my strength and fitness, I might just do it.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Training Update

Well, so far so good. Thanks to the amazing effects of CrossFit I'm definitely getting fitter and my flabbier bits are turning to muscle. In a dim light I can almost make out the beginnings of a six-pack! No, really!!

Photos of my six-pack have been banned. But here are a few recent photos of me and some of my fellow crossfitters working out -


In case you're wondering - the last photo of an assisted handstand isn't of me! I'm still at the roly poly with a bit of a bunny hop stage! It's Clare, who's brilliant at handstands and all things gymnastic. She didn't really need Pete's assistance but we wanted her to be still for the photo.

My preparations for the Great North Run, which is only just over 2 months away, are going well. I'm gradually increasing my long runs. I'm up to 9 miles now and will run another 9 miler tomorrow.

Next Sunday I'm doing a 10K race - the Great Bupa North in Gateshead. In a way it's a rest as it's only 6 miles but my plan is to try and do a good time and if possible beat my PB which is 54.32 minutes. But that was on a fairly flat course and I don't know what the Gateshead course will be like. Excuses already!

One of my main goals is to stay free from injury. Although I've been getting aches and pains and stiffness from time to time, nothing has turned chronic yet. This is partly thanks to my brilliant Sports Therapist, Libby Hancocks - - who  I visit every few weeks for a massage. I can't say it's always a pleasant experience when she digs her elbows or knuckles into my painful areas but it does the trick! Thank you Libby!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Calling all lovers of poetry and limericks......

Into the serious business of training and fundraising for my Everest trek a little lightness must fall....

There was a strange woman called Jack
Who fell madly in love with a yak
But half-way up Ev-er-est
She clasped him to her chest
Then ran off with a Yeti called Betty!

This is dedicated to my cousin Carole who has a bit of thing for Yeti!

Thursday, 30 June 2011

A lovely afternoon of Circle Dancing

Saturday the 25th was my Circle Dance & Tea fundraising event at Kettlesing Millennium Hall and it was BRILLIANT! A big thank you to everyone who came and supported Women for Women International so generously.

The music and dances our teacher - Sophia Hatch ( - chose were simply beautiful. Thank you Sophia!

Thank you also to Steve Mcenaney - a very talented amateur photographer  (see and look at the gallery of his work) who kindly volunteered to come and take photos of us dancing. Here are some of the ones I like best.