A Sheffield mum who’s no fan of heights, cold weather or early mornings is pushing herself to the limit by taking on the might of Africa’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro.

Gillian Askew, 44, even gave up smoking and drinking last October in a bid to get fit before she faces the  mammoth challenge.

The mum-of-two is taking on the epic challenge to raise funds for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice – a charity that is very close to her heart.

In 2013, Gillian’s nephew Alexander sadly passed away at the hospice and she has been a dedicated supporter of the “truly unique and amazing place” ever since. Gillian’s trip is being sponsored by her workplace, Gripple, which is also a long-standing and generous supporter of Bluebell Wood.

She said: “I personally visited one of Bluebell Wood’s end of life suites after Alexander passed away and it gave me so much comfort. I was so grateful to be able to spend that time with him.

“Bluebell Wood does such amazing work and creates such amazing experiences for the children and families who visit. It will always be my number one charity!”

It will take Gillian eight days to reach Kilimanjaro’s summit, which stands at an incredible 5,895 metres  above sea level. With temperatures ranging from 20 degrees to minus 20 and unpredictable weather, it’s not a challenge for the faint-hearted.

“I am at a time in my life where my children are now independent and I needed a fresh challenge,” said Gillian, from Crookes, Sheffield.

“So I really wanted to do something for myself while also raising money for charity.”

While Gillian has taken on several challenges for Bluebell Wood in the past, including the Sheffield Half Marathon, this one’s on a whole new level.

“Those who know me will be aware that I don’t like heights, the cold or getting up early in the morning and I would rather be drinking a glass of gin!” said Gillian.

“So training has been difficult as I found out I’d been chosen to do it in September and my training opportunities are mainly limited to dark mornings and evenings.

“But I’ve been walking home from work - from Carbrook Street to Crookes each day. I’ve also done the Yorkshire Three Peaks as well as many more treks in the Peak District on weekends loaded up with my rucksack with my partner Neal, who’s been amazing. Its all been very wet, muddy and extremely windy!”

Gillian flies out to Tanzania on the 9th Feb and is “excited and nervous and every other feeling in between”.

You can support Gillian’s epic mission here.

Jason Gossop, Regional Fundraiser at Bluebell Wood, said: “At Bluebell Wood we often talk about our supporters going above and beyond - and the amazing Gillian has taken this quite literally!

“It’s a truly breathtaking challenge and we take our hats off to Gillian for her bravery and determination.

“We’d like to say a gigantic thank you to Gillian, and to Gripple for their ongoing support. Best of luck and make sure you get plenty of pictures!”