Eccleshall businesswoman climbs Mount Kilimanjaro to raise £19k for charity
A BUSINESSWOMAN swapped computers for climbing gear as she scaled Mount Kilimanjaro – to raise almost £20,000 for charity.
Gabrielle Hadley, of web development firm ExtraMile Communications, based in Eccleshall, climbed Africa's highest mountain to raise money for a cause close to her heart.
Gabrielle, a former police officer, decided to donate all proceeds to the Donna Louise Children's Hospice Trust following her own personal experience of the pain caused by her nephew's death.
Now, after Gabrielle reached the mountain's 19,341 ft summit, the dedicated company director has entered The Sentinel's Business Awards under the Community Engagement category, sponsored by The Prince's Charities.
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The 48-year-old, who lives in Bishops Offley, said: "It's quite emotional. The reason I chose Donna Louise was back when I was in the police I was called to the sudden death of a baby and I never got over that.
"Also, my nephew died in 2005 at the age of six. It was very sudden. He had gastroenteritis and was very ill for three days.
"Although I was involved, I felt I couldn't do anything.
"But supporting Donna Louise means I feel as though there is a chance to do something to help.
"Everyone knows the children there have a limited life expectancy, and my view was that I could get in there and do something good for them."
Gabrielle's target is to raise £19,341 – a pound for every foot she climbed, and she has already raised more than £14,000.
Her entry for the awards comes as her firm, which she started with her husband Nick Evans, a former teacher, continues to go from strength to strength.
The business specialises in international digital marketing, website design and online research.
But Gabrielle, pictured, explained how it was meeting the challenges of everyday working life that prompted her to take on the charity mission.
She said: "About a year-and-a-half ago, I started to think the business was taking over my life. I can see the age of 50 coming along at a rate, and I wanted to do something that would be so outside my comfort zone. Something totally 'not me'.
"There comes a point when, before you die, you want to do something that you will be remembered for."
Gabrielle, whose biggest climb previously was a hill walk in the Lake District, trained for a year in order to build up her fitness.
The trek, which she completed alongside 28 other fund-raisers, took seven days, including the descent, and saw the group staying in wooden huts along the route.
However, Gabrielle says the gruelling challenge left her with mixed feelings, as she soon realised the climb, the altitude and the lack of proper food and sleep had 'shattered' her system.
She said: "I got to the top and the first thing I thought was simply 'what the hell am I doing here'?
"You think you're going to get to the top and shout 'hurrah', but I had hallucinations, I was very ill. Everybody was in a very strange place.
"I would say it has taken me a month to get over it. This is the first week I would say I'm back to normal.
"But it's also now that I am starting to appreciate it.
"Apparently only 41 per cent of people who attempt 'Killi' get to the top. When I heard that, it started to sink in."
To donate to Gabrielle's fund, email email@example.com or call 01785 850770 for more information.