It's OK To Say: Stacey ready for Kilimanjaro mountain mission
PUBLISHED: 09:00 13 June 2019 | UPDATED: 13:51 10 July 2019
Tomorrow sees mental health awareness campaigner Stacey Turner embark on her fundraising trek to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro - with the support of dozens of local businesses.
The 40-year-old children's book author and anxiety specialist is tackling the challenge with the dual aim of highlighting her It's OK To Say campaign and raising funds for Cancer Research UK (CRUK).
She launched the initiative in partnership with the Herts Advertiser last October to encourage people of all ages to speak out about mental illness, confide in others and surround themselves with supportive networks, and has just finished applying for charity status.
Stacey told the Herts Ad why she has decided to tackle Africa's highest mountain: "I have aways wanted to climb Kilimanjaro for personal accomplishment after many adversities, it is one of the world's greatest natural wonders and offers the challenge to provide hope where there is despair, meaning if I can conquer Kilimanjaro, you can accomplish anything.
"Today, the summit is called Uhuru Peak - Uhuru is the Swahili word for Freedom - it is said to be the roof of Africa, offering inspiration for new beginning where what seemed impossible in your life might just be doable."
The St Albans mother of two daughters said she was inspired to climb the 16,100ft mountain after watching the 2009 Comic Relief ascent, and will be accompanied by her friend Clare Delaney, who works as a fundraising manager for CRUK.
She added: "I am feeling anxious, the anxiety I feel is heaviness in my chest and I feel nervous, shaky and emotional. I think I have been running on nervous energy!
"I am overwhelmed with the support I have received. I keep bursting into tears - I can't believe this, these people are wonderful!
"I have been touched by everyone's generosity, kind, beautiful and supportive words and the belief in me.
"I have just wanted to make sure everything is organised and sorted, not only for the trip, but while I am away, so I know everyone is OK.
"I am nervous about leaving my girls, I keep squishing them for longer! I have made recordings for them to play everyday, and created a message jar where I have written a daily positive message."
The It's OK To Say campaign - and Stacey's Kilimanjaro challenge - have won the hearts and minds of the local community.
Many businesses have come forwards to offer their support for her efforts, either with fundraising or by donating equipment for her climb, which she is dedicating to local four-year-old Siobhan Mather, who recently passed away following a two-year battle against neuroblastoma.
The Skin to Love clinic provided skincare and sun protection products, WUKA Period Pants gave her underwear and a t-shirt, and The Pudding Stop donated a beanie hat and gloves.
Precious Soles, based in Potters Bar, donated her expedition boots alongside ECCO Shoes, with supportive orthotics from Orthosole, owned by ex-England cricketer and TalkSport presenter Ronnie Irani.
Precious Soles owner Peter Varnavas said: "When we heard that Stacey was going to climb Kilimanjaro and raise money for cancer research, we knew we had to support her.
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"Whether it's a mother or father, a best friend, a son or daughter, cancer has an effect on so many lives. We contacted our representatives at ECCO Shoes who were more than happy to support Stacey and her friend, Clare and their amazing effort for the benefit of others. We combined the walking boots with Orthosole inserts to make sure they would reach the top in comfort and be able to help their amazing cause."
Ronnie added a personal message: "Stacey and Clare, good luck in your amazing challenge of which everyone is so proud of you both."
Jez Levy from EYES On St Albans provided Zeal sunglasses: "We are thrilled to be able to support Stacey in her endeavours. Rest assured Stacey's eyes will be fully UV and blue light protected when ascending Kilimanjaro!"
Mountain Warehouse provided Stacey's jacket, walking trousers, socks and day backpack, and a spokesperson said: "We love hearing about our customers' expeditions, especially when they are for a good cause.
"Stacey's charitable adventure really resonated with us, and we wish her the best of luck for her Kilimanjaro climb."
Her rucksack - 65 litres plus liners - was donated by Christo Tofali from Ye Olde Fighting Cocks: "Stacey keeps proving anything is possible. An inspiration to many including me."
Dylan's and The Plough in Sleapshyde donated her sleeping bag and liner, and owner Sean Hughes said: "We are very proud to be supporting Stacey on her Kilimanjaro climb. We will be keeping a close eye on updates and wish her every success on her adventure!"
Trinder Hair on George Street provided travel products for her climb. Marc and Sophie Trinder said: "We just wanted to wish you all the best for the amazing challenge you're about to embark! You are an inspiration and a true pillar of the community for all the awareness you create. Best of luck with the climb!"
As well as a hoodie, The Pilates Rooms have been providing Stacey with reformer pilates classes, and studio manager Hannah Wilson-Craigen said: "Since I have known Stace, she has been a lovely friend to me and my family and a great source of support, but also been a member of my other family at The Pilates Rooms.
"Stace loves a pilates reformer and like me, I think it has helped her become both physically and mentally stronger. She always manages to inspire me and climbing Kilimanjaro is no exception!
"What an amazing thing to do for an amazing cause done by an amazing person. I hope she hears little whispers of encouragement in her ear from me when climbing that mountain: strong core plus strong mind plus Stacey, that mountain better be ready!"
She also received an 'always and forever' bracelet in memory of Siobhan from Cositas.
Owner Emma Bustamante said: "Thinking of you Stacey on your epic adventure on behalf of Siobhan.You're so strong and dedicated!
Stacey also received help with the It's OK To Say website and a tracking app to allow people to follow her journey from Ace Digital.
Company director Allister Collins said: "We're proud to support this amazing challenge for a such great cause. Stacey you're an incredible woman and we know you're going to do brilliantly."
If you would like to fundraise for It's OK To Say, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can follow the campaign in the Herts Advertiser each week, via social media and www.itsoktosay.org.uk