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Gillian returns from the challenge of a lifetime

Gillian McKibben feeding lamas.  Gillian who completed the Inca Trail Trek. 

A DRUMLOUGH woman has successfully completed a challenge of a lifetime in a bid to raise money for charity.

Gillian McKibben, 23, recently returned from Peru after undertaking the Inca Trail Trek - something she describes as being the most demanding thing she has ever had to do.

The well known chef at the Plough restaurant in Hillsborough spent four days walking along the most famous trek in South America and to date has raised in excess of 3000 for the Ulster Cancer Foundation.

She was inspired to raise the money for the local charity after seeing first hand the devastating effects cancer has.

"A close friend was diagnosed with cancer and I saw him go through his chemotherapy and my mum's friend was diagnosed with it and another of her good friends' passed away after a long battle with cancer.

"It is just devastating," explained Gillian who climbed Ben Nevis four years ago to raise funds for charity. "Ever since the Ben Nevis Challenge I have been receiving literature on different challenges and this one really appealed to me."

The trek certainly pushed her to the limits, as she was climbing in temperatures over 30 degrees.

"The challenge this time included a four-day trek covering 23 miles. It was fairly challenging and nothing could prepare you for it. I spent several days with the team acclimatising because the altitudes reached can be extremely high. It also gave us a chance to see the sights of the local area.

"I took it at my own pace and the Peruvian Porters who accompanied us where very helpful. It was humid and the second day was extremely tough but thankfully there was a breeze towards the end of the trek." Gillian said that the sights along the trek were amazing. The beautiful mountain scenery, lush cloud-forest, subtropical jungle and Inca paving stones, ruins and tunnels were stunning.

"The final destination of the trail just cannot be beaten. The sights at Machu Picchu, the mysterious 'Lost City of the Incas' was incredible. The photos taken really don't justify it. It was a worthwhile experience and I made some really good friends."

Gillian would like to thank everyone who has supported her and donated generously.

Anyone who would like to make a donation can call Gillian on 07711989930.

Ulster Star
15/12/2006