Retired Hartlepool nurse fighting Crohn’s disease aims for Arctic charity challenge

A brave nurse battling Crohn’s disease is taking on a new physical challenge despite an unexpected setback.

Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 4:45 am
Gill has been preparing for the freezing conditions.

But her health worsened and doctors told her she would no longer be able to go on the journey.

Although Gill found the news “devastating”, she was determined not to let her training go to waste – and took on a new challenge closer to home.

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Gill learning how to light a fire during a training session in Exeter.

In February, she will head to Sweden where she will spend three days surviving in Arctic conditions while raising money for charity.

It will involve staying in a lodge with no electricity, building a shelter, digging a snow cave and sleeping outdoors for two nights.

Gill said: “I think I’m quite stubborn.

"I know it’s a fine line between pushing myself too far and ending up in hospital and making things worse.

Gill building a shelter in preparation for the Arctic Survival Challenge.

"I want to do as much as I can to create the best memories and create a good life and if I can help people along the way, just to keep going really.”

Gill has been preparing for the challenge and recently returned from a training weekend in Exeter.

Speaking of the upcoming trip to Sweden, she said: "I’m really excited about it.

"I’m going to be somewhere for a few nights, where there is no pollution and I’m going to get to see the stars.”

The retired nurse, who is raising money for BASE charity, added getting to see the Northern Lights would be “the icing on the cake”.

She said: "That would be the icing on the cake. I’m trying not to think too much about that because we can’t be guaranteed, but that would be amazing."

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Gill, who used to work as Registered NHS Nurse in Birmingham, Nottingham and Hartlepool, has been fighting Crohn’s disease since getting diagnosed in 2000 when she was just 25.

The lifelong condition causes parts of the digestive system to become inflamed, resulting in symptoms such as diarrhoea, fatigue and stomach cramps.

It progressively worsened to a point where Gill, from the Belle Vue are of Hartlepool, had to make the heartbreaking decision of stepping down from her much-loved job as a nurse in 2013.

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