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Women with altitude - When the top of your game isn't enough

27 February 2012

What would you think if the woman on the other side of your partition or maybe in the office next door was, next month, about to take10 weeks off  … not to swan around Europe with her husband, nor to spend time with the new grandson, but … to climb a mountain – alright not just any mountain – let’s be specific … I am talking about Mount Everest – yes the mountain that claims one life for every 15 who try to climb it.    A cold hard fact that just sends chills up your spine.

Would you think she was mad?  Would you risk your life like that?  Well, the story only gets better – because there’s not one, but two women I want to introduce you to …  meet Annie Doyle, Chief Financial Officer of Sunnyfield (a large NSW based not for profit organisation for the intellectually disabled) and Amanda Jones, Chief Operating Officer of Infrastructure NSW – both are married, have children and are in the their fifties and about to take on the climb of their life.

Their story is one of great friendship, respect, a shared passion for outdoor challenges, not to mention extreme endurance.   Annie and Amanda met when their children were enrolled in Nippers on Sydney’s northern beaches and have been firm friends ever since.   Most parents meet up and the biggest challenge they do together is queue up for a latte!   Not these extraordinary – yes your typical A1 personalities – who love to live life to the fullest – and I mean to the edge.

8,848 metres high is no place for the faint hearted.   Just to reach this height takes nerves of steel – not to mention years of training.   But it’s challenges like these where Annie and Amanda feel right at home.  Six years ago Annie took her first step towards her destiny – to conquer the tallest mountain on each of the seven continents.  From the moment she climbed her first peak, Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya – she was hooked.

Even though Denali in Alaska had its challenges with temperatures dropping below 25 degrees C, it is nothing compared to Everest, with the thin air and snap-freeze temperatures that have claimed 261 lives to date.  The ladies describe that climbing is like an endurance sport – you get to a point where it’s a hard slog and then it becomes mental.   Annie assures me that the camaraderie, teamwork and testing of their mental and physical capabilities is what makes this the sport – if you can call it that – for her.  She says she is looking forward to the whole package – even the Death Zone.   “But we are coming back”, Annie confirms with a smile.

Amanda has always wanted to climb Everest.   Who did you tell first?  She said laughing, I rang my mum and said, “I am going to tell you something, but I don’t want you to say anything and I will call you again tomorrow … I am going to climb Everest and I hung up”.  The next day, she phoned up her mother and the response was “Well, you must!”   That was a fait accompli four years ago and so the extensive preparations commenced.

In mid March, these extraordinary women head off on the climb of their lives.     They take with them the hearts and support of hundreds of Sunnyfield employees.   Both women have an association with disability, either through family or friends, and they feel that if their trip, which they feel so lucky to be able to do, can in any way raise awareness and funds for Sunnyfield, then it will make the whole experience worthwhile.   “We chose Sunnyfield because people with disabilities, their families and carers, climb mountains everyday without recognition”, said Amanda.

For 60 years, Sunnyfield has been a leading not-for-profit organisation that supports people with intellectual disabilities, enabling them to create choice, opportunities and independence for them to lead the lives they want.

You can show your support and follow their progress via or via the Sunnyfield website    Your support will make many feel on top of the world!   There are also many levels of corporate sponsorship packages still available.   For further details, contact Marisa Chilcott, Executive Manager, Fundraising and Marketing Sunnyfield ph 02 8977 8864 or 0403 456 546