Kara faces demons for three challenges

Kara Owen is taking on a series of challenges, inspired by her friend Sally-ann Giles
Kara Owen is taking on a series of challenges, inspired by her friend Sally-ann Giles

A Wigan mum is confronting some of her deepest fears with a series of white-knuckle challenges for charity inspired by a friend’s cancer battle.

Kara Owen, from Goose Green, has completed two out of three fund-raising tasks for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.

She climbed Scafell Pike, England’s highest point, solo before overcoming her terror of heights and falling to complete a form of rock-climbing called bouldering.

The challenges end this weekend when mum-of-five Kara, 36, takes part in The Rough Runner 10k obstacle event in Manchester.

Kara is taking on these challenges after her friend Sally-ann Giles was diagnosed with cervical cancer in January, aged just 40.

She hopes to raise £500 for the charity but is also particularly keen to convince women to go for the smear tests which can detect the disease early and so enhance the chances of warding off the condition.

Kara said: "When Sally-ann told me she had been diagnosed with cancer I was absolutely devastated.

"It was through a routine smear test that she was diagnosed with cervical cancer so a smear test literally saved her life and I want to do everything I can to encourage more women to attend their test.

"Thankfully the cancer was caught early so she could have surgery and she is now on the path to recovery.

"But she has faced huge amounts of worry and changes to her mind and body.

"She didn’t have any symptoms at all so if she hadn’t gone for her test she wouldn’t have known and it probably would have been a much later stage by the time she found out about it.

"I decided to do something to support her and feel that if you’re going to do challenges to raise money for charity, you might as well do something that’s a real challenge for yourself.

"I had never hiked and I’m absolutely petrified of heights and falling.

"So I ended up doing the Scafell Pike trip on my own but I actually enjoyed it.

"I did it in just under five hours and was quite pleased with that.

"I was mostly powering through it making sure I didn’t get lost."

Kara met Sally-ann through their mutual enthusiasm for pole dancing in 2009 and runs the Opal Dance studio as well as community interest company (CIC) Opal Health and Wellbeing, both located on King Street in Wigan.

She carried out the nerve-racking bouldering challenge without ropes or harnesses at Wilton Quarry on Tuesday, having learnt to climb with the help of the team at Haigh Woodlands Park’s high ropes facility.

She chose Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust as the beneficiary of her fund-raising efforts as it supported Sally-ann throughout her diagnosis and treatment.

Robert Music, the charity’s chief executive, said: "It is absolutely fantastic that Kara has decided to fund-raise for us, the money raised will enable us to be there for more women like Sally-ann at a time when they need us the most.

"I also want to thank her for raising awareness of smear tests at the same time.

"One in four women across the UK doesn’t attend this potentially life-saving test when invited.

"So it is really important that more women understand the risks of not attending."

To find out more about Kara’s charity challenges and to sponsor her, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/opaldancer