Turning the big 4-0 is a milestone in many of our lives but one Melrose woman is using it to challenge herself and achieve a personal goal.
Gillian Montgomerie is well-known in the local community as a doctor at the Waverley Medical Practice in Galashiels.
But next month she’ll join her fellow Melrose Sole Sisters in the Full Moon challenge at Walk the Walk’s MoonWalk event in Edinburgh.
Gillian met her fellow team members – Ana Gibson, Amanda Cross, Kerry Wright, Ruth Fairgrieve, Kirsten Fairclough, Sarah Johnstone, Jenny Morrison, Sarah Milne and Dympna Dickson – at the Melrose Primary School gates, where their wee ones go to school.
None of them have ever attempted the MoonWalk but they are cheering each other on via a What’s App group they’ve set up.
While the initial idea was Gillian’s, many more mums have come on board – and are now looking at setting up a ladies’ walking group after the MoonWalk.
As a busy mum of two who works four days a week, fitting training in has been no mean feat for Gillian.
However, the team have helped egg each other on.
The 39-year-old from Melrose said: “We’ve all got jobs and kids so it’s a struggle – especially when you’re doing a 12 mile walk which can take up to four hours!
“But we’re using the What’s App group so that we always have someone else to walk with, after work or at the weekends.
“Other mums who aren’t doing the MoonWalk have signed up to our What’s App group too and are keen to get a walking group started, once the event is over.
“So there’s about 20 mums in the group now!
“We all get on really well and there’s so many nice walks here in Melrose, I think we will carry on after the MoonWalk.”
While the Borders has beautiful country walks, the ladies are trying to stay on tarmac as much as possible – as most of the MoonWalk route is on the hard stuff!
“We’ve been walking on a variety of different terrain to prepare us for the city centre route,” said Gillian.
The ladies are patiently waiting on their bra packs arriving so they can decorate them, to tie in with this year’s jungle safari theme.
“We’re also thinking about getting different animal masks to tie in with the theme,” Gillian said.
Inspiration for taking part struck close to home for Gillian – her next door neighbour Jacqueline Watson did the MoonWalk last year which got Gillian thinking about the big 4-0 this year.
She said: “Jacqueline loved everything about it – other than the weather, which was horrendous – and it really inspired me.
“I’m not usually into sports but I’m turning 40 on September 21 and I wanted to do something challenging, while raising money at the same time.
“It means I can mark turning 40 by achieving a personal goal, which is a fantastic motivator.
“And while it’s taking a lot of time just now, we can also see an end in sight!”
As a GP, Gillian knows only too well how prevalent cancer diagnoses are – and is delighted to be raising funds for breast cancer research.
“It’s a disease which is close to all of our hearts these days,” she said.
“We all know someone who has had cancer because it’s becoming so common.
“I’ve seen young women in their late 20s and early 30s being diagnosed, with no family history, so I know it can affect people of all ages.
“The fact the breast screening van is currently in Galashiels also helps heighten awareness, which can only be a good thing.”
Thanks to her family and friends’ generosity, Gillian met her £200 fundraising target this week, which she was absolutely delighted with.
However, she is hoping to harness even more support in the next few weeks from colleagues and patients.
“My colleague did a Macmillan fundraiser a few weeks ago and the patients were very generous so I’m hoping they will get behind me too,” she said.
Gillian’s children Sam (8) and Emma (5) and husband Craig, the golf pro at The Roxburghe Hotel and Golf Course, have also been cheering her on.
She’s now just looking forward to the overnight challenge on June 10.
“I’m sure it will be a great atmosphere,” she added. “Even when we’re tired, we’ll all spur each other on.”
If you would like to support Gillian, visit the website http://wtwalk.org/moonwalkscotland2017/gillian-10.
Walker and volunteer appeal
Breast cancer charity, Walk the Walk, famous for its trademark decorated bras, is urging women, men and young people to unleash their inner Tarzan by signing up for The MoonWalk Scotland 2017.
Back with a bang for the 12th year, Scotland’s much loved night-time challenge is taking place on Saturday, June 10.
With a jungle safari theme, the event will see walkers snaking past some of Edinburgh’s most iconic landmarks, including Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat, Calton Hill and St Giles Cathedral.
From leopards, to lynx, lemurs and lions, Walk the Walk is hoping people will let their imaginations run wild as they decorate their Jungle Safari inspired bras for the event.
Open to people aged 10 and over, walkers can take on one of four challenges: New Moon (6.55 miles), Half Moon (13.1 miles), Full Moon (26.2 miles) or Over The Moon (52.4 miles).
Eighty-thousand people have taken part in The MoonWalk Scotland over the years, helping to raise more than £19.6 million. Most of the money raised from the event stays in Scotland to help improve the lives of people with cancer now. Around 4600 women and men in Scotland are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.
Nina Barough, founder and chief executive of Walk the Walk said: “The MoonWalk Scotland is a magical night when determination, inspiration touched with the extraordinary unite to raise much needed awareness about the importance of breast care and to raise money for those with cancer in Scotland.”
Walk the Walk needs 1000 amazing Volunteers to help at this year’s MoonWalk Scotland, which starts at Holyrood Park. To sign up as a walker or a volunteer, visit www.walkthewalk.org.