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Former Birchwood High School students to climb Snowdon in dark for breast cancer charity

Skye and Emily (12175817)
Skye and Emily (12175817)

Two former pupils of Birchwood High School will be climbing Snowdon in the dark – with the aim of cresting the summit at sunrise – in aid of a breast cancer charity.

The 1,085m (3,560ft) ascent on Saturday June 22 will be a particular challenge for 21-year-old Emily Gleeson.

In 2010, as a 12-year-old schoolgirl, Emily had surgery to insert two titanium rods to straighten her back and ease her scoliosis, a medical condition in which a person's spine has a sideways curve. After her operation, she raised money to set up a scoliosis fund for Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

She will be joined by Skye Watling, a former classmate at the Parsonage Lane secondary, to raise money and awareness for the charity CoppaFeel!

Emily Gleeson (12175820)
Emily Gleeson (12175820)

Emily, who is studying for a degree in drama with creative writing at UWE Bristol, said: "I've always loved the work that they [CoppaFeel!] do and the way in which they encourage people to be aware of the signs of breast cancer. They manage to tackle very difficult topics with a sense of humour. I've learnt so much from their work and it seemed only right to do something for them in return.

"If we can encourage more people to be aware of the signs of cancer then that means it can be caught early and more people can survive it. Skye and I had spoken about wanting to do a trek and when I saw this opportunity I thought it sounded great – we'd get to climb Snowdon and raise money for CoppaFeel."

Emily, who in March completed the Bath half marathon, said: "I hope this trek will be another chance to prove to people that having scoliosis should not stop you from doing anything."

Cheering her on from their home in White Roding will be brother Matthew, who is sitting his A-levels at Birchwood in Year 13, and mum Claire, a senior biomedical scientist who works at Addenbrooke's.

Once she has tackled Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales and the highest point in the British Isles outside Scotland, Emily will be concentrating on her stage career.

She said: "I recently got a placement at the National Theatre, producing the Connections Festival 2019. I've also co-founded a theatre company and we hope to take a new production to fringe festivals in 2020."

Skye Whatling (12175822)
Skye Whatling (12175822)

Skye, from Manuden, is studying contemporary art and design at Writtle University College​ and hopes to work in the exhibition industry after graduation.

She took part in a trek to Costa Rica in 2014 to help injured and orphaned animals.​ Her sister Tegan, 19, works with animals while Lani, 16, is a pupil at Birchwood. Mum Karen works in analysis and dad Terry is a builder.

To sponsor Emily and Skye see https://snowdonbynight.everydayhero.com/uk/emily-s-trek-for-coppafeel

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