Rachel (48) and Alex (20) Terry, a mother and daughter from Gravesend, are preparing to head off to Iceland in April for a challenging five-day trek across the country’s volcanic landscape to raise money for ellenor – in memory of Jean Terry, Rachel’s mother-in-law.
Jean died on 9 May 2015 from Myeloma, a cancer arising from plasma cells – for which she’d endured months of treatment, including chemotherapy. She spent her final days at ellenor Gravesend, where Rachel, says that the ‘care and understanding were second to none’.
“The team at ellenor treated Jean like a member of their own family and for this we can never thank them enough,” says Rachel. “ellenor gave Jean back her dignity and identity in her last few days.”
As a charity, not part of the NHS, ellenor needs to raise over £6.7 million each year to provide its round the clock care for families facing terminal illness.
“Alex and I decided to take up the Iceland trek challenge, because we wanted other families to benefit from ellenor's care as we had,” says Rachel. “We had said we would like to go to Iceland after watching a documentary on the television and the very next day we read about ellenor’s trek. We felt it was meant to be!”
Along with seven others – including Mo Tutty, chairman of the board of trustees at ellenor - Rachel and Alex we will be trekking across Iceland for five days through spectacular volcanic landscapes. They will hike through mountain gorges, over vast glaciers, across frozen lava fields and climb to the top of Eyjafjallajὃkull. The itinerary involves trekking an average of eight hours a day, but up to 14 hours per day on two of the days, possibly using crampons and ice axes.
Alongside a busy schedule of training, the pair have also been fundraising for ellenor. The charity set them both a target of £2750 (£5500 in total) and the pair were ‘over the moon’ when they exceeded this just after Christmas – finishing with £6166.63. Their fundraisers have included an afternoon tea, street collections, boot fairs, craft fairs and raffles, a Christmas hamper giveaway, a run or dye 5km and, most recently, a race night, which raised £463.13.
“Our training is intense now and we are taking it very seriously,” says Rachel. “We don't want to let anyone down. We were not fit at all before taking on this challenge, so we have had a lot to prove to ourselves as well as everyone who is supporting us.”
Rachel and Alex are currently walking six days out of seven, doing two gym sessions a week for strengthening, two aerobic classes a week, with some yoga, interval training and hydropower. At the weekend they are doing a two to three hour walk on a Saturday and a much longer walk of four to five hours on a Sunday.
Throughout the Iceland trek, Jean will be foremost in the minds of both Rachel and Alex. Rachel remembers Jean’s last day and said the family received a phone call to say they didn’t think she had very long.
“We all rushed to the hospice, not wanting Jean to be by herself, only to find two of the ward nurses sitting with her, holding her hand until we got there,” says Rachel. “That was so caring and thoughtful. When Jean passed away, we were given time to be with her. Afterwards, the ellenor nurses brushed her hair and put some fresh flowers on her pillow. All these little touches will stay with us forever.”
You can support Rachel and Alex’s fundraising, by clicking here: www.justgiving.com/Rachel-and-Alex-Terry or you can take part in a challenge of your own for ellenor by visiting: www.ellenor.org/events