Written by Angela Barnes


Target Ovarian Cancer: Trek training for China

Angela Barnes is full of admiration for her ‘mother hen’ friend from school, a Macmillan nurse who is taking on the Great Wall of China to raise money for charity. We think she’s a hero too.

Vickie Gadd (left) and Liz Hopson are training for a Great Wall of China challenge.

Vickie Gadd (left) and Liz Hopson are training for a Great Wall of China challenge.

In 2006 the wonderful comedian Linda Smith passed away; she had been suffering from ovarian cancer.

It is through taking part in various Linda Smith memorial events that I first became aware of Target Ovarian Cancer and the brilliant work they do in supporting women and their families who are affected.

It’s not just a brilliant charity, it is an essential one. If you are a woman, or you know a woman, then you need to be aware of ovarian cancer.

More than 7,000 women are diagnosed every year. If caught early, prognosis can be good, but without a screening programme in place, it can be difficult to diagnose in time. That is why all women need to know their risk factors and be aware of what to look out for.

So, before you read on, please give this a read. It could save your life.

Vickie Gadd is a Macmillan clinical nurse specialist, who specialises in gynaecological cancers. I went to school with Vickie, and I am totally in awe of what she does every day.

Vickie was always the mother hen at school, and it makes utter sense to me that she has spent her life since then supporting and nurturing people. I am a standup comedian, and I have lost count of the number of people who refer to what I do as being “brave”. It’s not brave. It’s showing off and vaguely narcissistic. Not brave.

Now, what Vickie and her colleagues do is, as far as I am concerned, utterly heroic. Every day Macmillan nurses provide support, information and, most importantly, a friendly ear to those diagnosed with cancer. And they are there with that person throughout their journey, whatever the outcome may be.

Ovarian cancer infographicBut, for Vickie, that still isn’t enough. In October 2014, she was attending an event held by Target Ovarian Cancer, and they were advertising a fundraising idea they had, to do a trek of the Great Wall of China.

“That sounds like fun,” said Vickie – four words she is living to regret as she prepares to fly to Beijing with 15 other brave/mad souls to begin the trek, the journey of a lifetime.

Vickie, from Bearsted, Kent and her best mate Liz Hopson have been training hard for the challenge which will see them take in some breathtaking sights and raise shedloads of cash for Target Ovarian Cancer in the process.

I asked Vickie what the most daunting part of the trip will be. She replied: “The Heavenly Ladder.”

“But that sounds lovely, doesn’t it?” I said. Then she pointed to the part of the guide she had been given, which read: “1,000 steps up to the foot of the wall, then trek the 20 battlements to the ‘Heavenly Ladder’ – a near vertical staircase that climbs to the top of the mountain”. Oh. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking ‘bugger that.’

Vickie and Liz have been trekking their butts off in training.

Vickie and Liz have been trekking their butts off in training.

So, Vickie and Liz have been spending their weekends dragging their partners and children around various parts of the Kent countryside, up and down the North Downs and in and out the dusty bluebells, to prepare for the average of seven to nine hours of trekking they will be doing every day in China. Come rain or shine, the trek must go on.

Part of the trek involves helping to rebuild a part of the Great Wall currently under restoration, and they have been invited to place a memento there. Vickie is taking a Target Ovarian Cancer pin to place in the wall, so it will forever be part of the story.

If you can spare anything to support this wonderful cause, I know that Vickie and Liz would be very grateful. You can find their fundraising page here. And you can follow the blog of their adventures while they are there.

Vickie and Liz, best feet forward (one at a time, or you’ll fall over), I am sending you best wishes, and a massive truckload of Compeed. Go get ‘em!


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Written by Angela Barnes

Angela Barnes is an award-winning standup comedian. She is sometimes on TV and the radio and is often in a comedy club near you. @AngelaBarnes