Jan 18, 2015

Please support the 2015 Wellbeing of Women Kilimanjaro Climb!

I was a little terror as a child. Between my brothers and I, we did our utmost to test my mothers patience. A farm in rural Canada proved to be the ultimate adventure playground and the setting for more than one instance where adventures went a bit too far… Personal highlights include getting stuck – waist deep – in the mud of a freshly ploughed field at the age of 6 (in my best Sunday clothes); filling our pool with a thick concoction of water, mud and grass clippings – playing in the soppy mixture all afternoon and then tracking it (literally) throughout the house; countless mud-ball fights (strategically laced with rocks and nails) with my brothers; and the piece de resistance, smashing all of the windows out of our barn along with the windows of my Dad’s antique car, an old Beaumont, in an effort to recreate the closing scenes of the Michael Jackson ‘Black or White’ video… 

Somehow my brothers and I managed to survive life on the farm… More remarkably, my Mom managed to maintain a sense of humour and a smile throughout (between the occasional moments of discipline). Despite the many occasions that we tested her patience, she continued to fill our lunch boxes each morning, ensure that we were properly dressed, make dinner each evening, drove me to ballet, piano, soccer, volleyball etc, ensure that we took our vitamins, brushed our teeth, and got to bed on time. She did this rain or shine even when she may have been battling the colds and flus we took home from school.

Coming full circle...

I’m now around the same age that my Mom was when she did all these things for my brothers, sister and I.  Life feels a bit like it’s come full circle. It’s only now that I have a full appreciation of how lucky I am to have such an amazing Mom . I also have an appreciation of just how much strength and effort it must have taken to raise all of us and hold the family together. Finally, and perhaps fundamentally, how lucky I am to have both directly and indirectly benefitted from the research funded by health charities such as Wellbeing of Women. 

Wellbeing of Women is a charity dedicated to improving the health of women, mothers and babies through research, training and education. Through the research funded by Wellbeing of Women, our whole family benefitted. Since it was founded 50 years ago, Wellbeing of Women has, through the generous support from its donors, invested in research projects and allocated funds towards the training of doctors and midwives.

The charity conducts research to address statistics such as these:
  • 1 in 2 women in the UK will suffer from some kind of reproductive or gynecological health problem
  • 17 babies a day die in the UK at or near birth (they are either stillborn or die shortly after birth)
  • 145 women a week in the UK die of a gynecological cancer (ovarian cancer, womb cancer)
  • 2 million women suffer the pain of endometriosis
  • 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage
Wellbeing of Women encourages women – mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers, friends, colleagues - to take more interest in their own health and ensure that they have the appropriate access to education and care to do so. I’m tremendously inspired by the achievements and progress that has already been made to date. Some success stories can be found here: http://www.wellbeingofwomen.org.uk/research/success-stories/?menu=11c

Wellbeing of Women has also made me appreciate my mother, my sister and gorgeous nieces and nephews even more and the care that they have received since the day their imminent arrival into the family was announced. They truly are a miracle of life and I feel so tremendously blessed to be able to enjoy them and watch them grow up… even though, at times, they test my patience just as we did my mothers!

The Wellbeing of Women Kilimanjaro Climb...

Besides being the ultimate adventure playground, growing up on a farm also instilled in me a passion for the outdoors. It proved to be the setting that allowed me to push my creative and physical limits which ultimately led me to climb on some of the highest mountains in the world. From rural roots to Himalayan heights. 

Last year, supported by my employer, PwC, I decided to leverage my passion for adventure and share it with others to benefit the research supported by Wellbeing of Women. Together with an intrepid team of 8 other women we climbed to the 5,895 meters (19,341 feet) summit of Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, and raised over 25,000 GBP /  $35,000 for Wellbeing of Women. Our collective efforts helped to support by supporting two Wellbeing of Women funded researchers to investigating a new treatment for womb cancer and developing new treatments for premature birth.

Building on the success of last years climb, I decided with the support of PwC, to organise a second Kilimanjaro climb which is now scheduled to take place from 21 Feb – 1 March, 2015. This year we have an intrepid team of 14 climbers who will venture to Tanzania to undertake the challenge on behalf of Wellbeing of Women. 

Heading to altitude is never an easy or comfortable experience and the opportunity to lead an even bigger team this year whilst managing expectations ‘back at the ranch’ is going to be an equal challenge of leadership. It will put to the test the skills I’ve learned from past expeditions – discipline, commitment, courage and creativity. 

Having said that, I can’t think of a more inspiring team. Made up entirely of PwC colleagues from different backgrounds, business units, and ages it will be a tremendous adventure. I look forward to the opportunity to learn and work as a team to collectively surpass our fundraising target and reach the roof of Africa. Our efforts will ensure that research will continue into fertility, miscarriage, gynaecological cancers, pregnancy complications and menopause.

Doing so will ensure that we can continue to benefit from the love and care, that we have with the women and babies in our lives.

Please consider the women, mothers and babies in your life...

To ensure that this research can continue, I ask that you please consider making a donation to Wellbeing of Women. Your donation, however big or small, will ensure that we can continue to transform the lives of every woman and baby in the UK and many more worldwide. 

Please show your support by making a donation directly via our page below. All funds will be matched by PwC.

My fundraising page: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/heathergeluk

Our team page: https://mydonate.bt.com/teams/wowclimbteam2015

On behalf of the Wellbeing of Women Kilimanjaro Climb Team, a huge thank you for your support… and for considering of the women in your life!

We had t-shirts to ensure that Mom could keep our names straight
My sister Melanie, Mom and I
Despite the fact we were crazy as children I'd like to think we turned out ok!


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