In 2022, the amazing Jane hiked from the Dead Sea to Petra on our hugely popular Jordan Desert Trek. Together with a group of fellow Dream Challengers and a team of local Bedouin guides, Jane faced the unforgiving heat of the desert, crossed vast expanses of sand and climbed through the magnificent Black Mountains, all in aid of charity. She took this on not just for the personal challenge, the cultural experience and the incredible destination, but in memory of her beloved late husband Tim and the charity that supported him. Here, Jane tells her inspiring story.
Tell us about Tim and your reasons for joining the challenge.
Tim was diagnosed with a brain tumour on 4th January 2019. I’d taken him to hospital with a suspected stroke. He was 56 years old. At first, he was given a year to live. Then it was reduced to six months. But he only lived for two months and twenty-five days after the diagnosis.
Tim was like sunshine. He made me feel as if anything in life was possible. He was my protector, my confidante, my number one supporter. He was a wonderful father to our two children (now adults). Tim was my everything. We met when we were both eighteen and we were married for thirty-three years.
I raised money for the Brain Tumour Charity because I want to find a cure – I don’t want anyone else to go through this. Receiving a diagnosis of glioblastoma (the type of tumour that Tim had) is the same as receiving a death sentence. There is no cure.
Why did the Jordan Desert Trek strike you as the perfect challenge to take on for Tim?
Tim and I had planned to visit Petra one day. He frequently worked in the Middle East and loved the people and the landscape. I struggle with the heat – I’m a cold climate sort of person. The desert trek felt like the perfect memorial to Tim and a testament to our life together.
How did you prepare for the challenge?
Dream Challenges provided a really useful training plan, which I tried to stick to. I went to the Lake District for three weeks, but sadly only managed to climb two mountains in my first week. Then I was diagnosed with a chest infection, which took me six weeks to get over. I also developed a problem in my left foot, which required a steroid injection and put my training almost back to the beginning.
I live in Suffolk which is fairly flat, so I’d sometimes travel to hillier places to walk. Looking back, I wish I’d joined a gym for the last six months of training, as that really would’ve improved my fitness level. Lesson learned for the next trek!
For the fundraising, I shouted as loud as I could on social media. I asked people to donate rather than give me birthday cards or presents. I posted videos of my training. I kept a blog. I did everything I could to let people know that this trek was for Tim.
What were the top highlights of the challenge for you?
The top highlights for me really were the people on the trek – participants, leaders, Bedouin. They were all so supportive and I loved the camaraderie. It’s something that I’ll keep with me for a long time.
Petra was absolutely amazing, and although I won’t forget it, it’s belonging to a group of supportive people and the laughter and love that will stay with me. Oh yes, and the food was pretty amazing too!
And what would you say were the hardest elements of the challenge?
The hardest element for me was the heat. I really struggled with it. I think if I had been fitter, I could’ve coped better. So it’s my own fault, really! And the portaloos – oh, my word. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that smell!
How did you find life in the desert?
The desert landscape is like nothing I’ve seen before. It had a haunting beauty. I liked that we did scrambling as well as walking along tracks. In a strange way, it helped me to connect with the desert. The sky at night was wonderful. It looked huge and the stars were so clear. Sadly, I didn’t sleep under the stars, but I wish I had.
What struck you most about the desert and the Bedouin culture?
I think the harshness and the dryness of it really struck me the most. How the Bedouin carry on, dressed in warm clothes and with very little to drink, was a lesson in how spoilt we are in our Western culture.
The generosity of the Bedouin was heart-warming. They fed us the most delicious meals. And on the day that I couldn’t walk because I had an infected nailbed in one of my toes, the kindness from our Bedouin guide was touching. Every time I said “Thank you,” he said “You’re welcome every time”. I’ll never forget that kindness. And the sense of humour is something we shared – wonderful.
Do you have any tips for people who are thinking of taking on our Jordan Desert Trek?
Train. Train. Train. Train as much as you can. Make sure you take Dioralyte and sugary sweets and salted peanuts. Hydration really is key in that landscape. And don’t forget the baby-wipes – you won’t be having a shower for a while!
What inspired you to sign up to Trek Borneo in 2023?
I feel I need another challenge. Since Tim died, I’ve been struggling trying to find my place in the world. Training for the Jordan trek had been part of my life for a year and it was difficult to let it go. I enjoyed the level of fitness I’d worked hard for and acknowledged that there is still so much further to go.
Borneo will be hot, so I know I’m going to struggle. But I’m going to spend the next seventeen months getting fitter, training harder. I want to be in the middle of the group, not at the back.
Besides that, I want to feel part of a group again, working together so that we all get there. You can’t beat that feeling. Oh, and I like the organisation of Dream Challenges – they really did look after us.
Follow in Jane's footsteps
We were so thrilled to have Jane as part of our group for our Jordan Desert Trek in 2022. It really is the participants and the community spirit that make our charity challenges so special. We provide the full challenge support, itinerary and expertise - and you bring the Dream!
If Jane's story has inspired you, why not follow in her footsteps and join us for our Jordan Desert Trek in 2023? You'll experience the unique Bedouin culture, the spectacular landscape of the Jordan Desert, the thrill of the challenge and the unbeatable Dream Challenges camaraderie first-hand. Find out more about our Walk With Me Jordan Desert Trek 2023 here or head to our Challenges page to see our full range of life-changing adventures.