I’d always enjoyed the outdoor life, but you get married, have jobs and all that, and then suddenly I lost my husband to pancreatic cancer, and I knew that my life was going to be very different. I decided I wanted to support cancer research, so I decided to go to Everest Base Camp to raise money for them, and I realised that was what I needed to do. To push myself to the limits, go all around the world. So that’s what I decided to do.
Losing my husband was the most dreadful thing that ever happened to me, and it was going out into the countryside reconnecting with nature that helped me through those early days. Listening, taking time, pausing, having lots of time to think. I took many, many walks in the evenings after work, and it gave me time to plan my future. You know, you come under a lot of mental stress when something so huge happens to you and reconnecting with the outdoors was the magic pill that made me feel better. I knew continuing to do all the things I was doing outdoors would help me get through the dark days. And the more I did it, the more I enjoyed it.
People have many ways of dealing with grief, and there’s no right or wrong way. We’re all individuals. For me, being in the outdoors allowed me to reset myself. It gave me satisfaction and helped me through a very painful period. Because the loss of somebody that you love very much is like a deep dagger in your heart, and in those dark days of early grief, it was a huge help for me, and I’ll never forget that.
Days are brighter now - I enjoy things more. I can laugh – I couldn’t laugh in those early days. Sometimes when I’m walking by myself, I chuckle and laugh about things that I see. I could never have done that in the first six months after losing my husband, but the countryside has been the perfect answer for me.
When I go on these adventures, I know my husband would be proud of me. It would have been easy to shut myself away and let the grief come over me and not be able to have a life beyond that. He wouldn’t have wanted that. He would have wanted me to do the things I enjoyed and go beyond the things I used to do, and that’s what I’ve done. I’ve pushed myself to the limits. I’ve put myself into situations I would never have done before, but it’s just that feeling of making me feel alive and like there’s something to live for. The outdoors has done that for me. Going on treks all around the world has made me believe in a future. I would prefer that future to be with my husband, but it wasn’t to be and I know he would be proud of me for what I do and how I go about it.
The outdoors has really helped me, and I feel like I owe it something. If I can play some small part in helping people to enjoy the outdoors, and importantly looking after the outdoors, so it’s there for future generations, I'll be happy. I owe that to the outdoors because I’ve had so much from it.