2015-16 was a tough year to say the least. On the 30th December 2015 my brother’s little girl, Eloise, who had just turned nine was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukaemia. She was immediately transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital to start treatment. In February 2016, we received the news that she needed a lifesaving bone marrow transplant. Eloise has two younger sisters, Erin who was four at the time and Evie who was three. In the April that year, Erin broke her leg resulting in her having a cast and being in a wheelchair, which added to the difficulty of my brother Jay and his wife Tanya having to spread themselves thin between all three girls and their needs.

After intense treatment, Eloise was transferred to an isolation unit to receive radiotherapy. Then in June 2016, she was finally able to have the bone marrow transplant she needed that will save her life….from her little sister, Evie who was a 100% match. It was an agonising wait to see if the transplant had worked, but Praise God, it did and Eloise is now cancer free!

Then in September 2016, my Dad was also sadly diagnosed with cancer and needed to have a major operation and his recovery would take months following this very invasive surgery. But once again, praise God that operation was successful and he has made good progress.

As a result of their ordeals, both Eloise and my Dad continue to receive extensive treatment for various difficulties they face on a daily basis.

Fast forward two years to November 2018, my Dad’s 60th birthday. My brother and I decided it would be a lovely idea to book a cottage in the Lake District for the weekend and travel from London to Blackburn where my Dad and his partner, Meryl live to surprise him with our plan. My husband Gary and I have been trekking the beautiful fells of the Lakes for the past seven years and completed the Wainwrights in the June that year, so are very familiar with the surrounding areas. The three girls had always been inspired by our love for mountains and wanted to climb Catbells due to being Star Wars fans, so we promised we would take them one day if they trained hard enough. For weeks, they were walking up and down the stairs getting ready for when they finally climbed their first mountain.

The surprise weekend was finally here and after a very long 6 hour car journey (stopping off at Blackburn) we arrived safely at our cottage in Hartsop in the evening. It was a beautiful cottage big enough for the nine of us. The next morning was like Christmas – everyone was so excited running around different rooms looking at various views of the beauty that surrounded us that we could now see in the daylight. The girls were the most excited as they had never seen anything like it before. We promised them a good mountain climb so today, we were heading up Hallin Fell. Sadly Catbells was a little too far to drive to, but we thought Hallin Fell would be a great starter for them.

It was an exciting moment to all set off together as our first family climb. Eloise sadly now has osteoporosis as a result of her treatment, so we were mindful of how it might be difficult for her. To the amazement of us all, with walking poles at hand, all three girls took off at speed, leading the way with excitable smiles and took great delight in making their way to the grand summit cairn of their first Wainwright. It was an amazing feeling making it to the top together, seeing how happy everyone was, forgetting all troubles for a moment and enjoying our hard earned fantastic views of Ullswater. It was such a momentous and joyous occasion for so many reasons. For my Dad to celebrate his 60th birthday by climbing his first mountain after having gone through such a big operation was inspiring.

To watch Eloise enjoy climbing her first mountain after having gone through everything she did was a blessing to see and be part of. She has overcome and conquered so much and now, she has conquered her first Wainwright of hopefully many more to come. What a fantastic memory to make together… Catbells here we come!

Eloise said: “When I first climbed a mountain I felt an amazing feeling that I had never felt before. It was an incredible experience and the perfect opportunity to forget about our normal chaotic life. I loved every second of it and I loved seeing everyone so happy and just enjoying their time together. The scenery was truly beautiful, especially all the beautiful shades of green and the river/lake in the valley below us. When we reached the top, I felt fantastic and slightly exhausted! I then placed my rock on the tower of many other stones. I knew that even going through what I did, with Gods’ help and power you can achieve anything.”
– Eloise Taylor 12 years old