Love Island's Amber Gill treks 75km in blistering heat for Fabulous' toughest challenge for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust | The Sun

When Fabulous sent out an appeal for readers to join our trek across Jordan to the ancient city of Petra in aid of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust in January 2020, we could never have predicted what an incredible group of people it would bring together.

In May this year, after 17 months of pandemic-related delays, 23 women and two men joined celeb captain Love Island’s Amber Gill to walk 75km to raise awareness and funds for Jo’s.

Amber, 24, had a personal reason for taking part. “My friend Juliet, 40, had cervical cancer in 2013 and told me how important the support from Jo’s was to her,” she said.

“Your friends and family can only say so much when they don’t have the tools to help. So, when this trek came about, I knew I wanted to do it.”

With everyone in our group or their loved ones having had some experience of cervical cancer – and a few still battling the side effects of treatment – we set off on what would be a life-changing journey.


The trip – led by Charity Challenge, who organised the itinerary and looked after everyone involved – kicked off at Heathrow on May 14.

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The energy was high when we all met, most of us for the first time. There was a fantastic mix of accents, with the group coming from all over the country – from South Wales to Galloway, Bolton to Newcastle – and a lot of nervous anticipation.

Six hours later we landed in Jordan’s capital city Amman, only to find that Amber’s bag had been lost by the airline.

Most of us would have had a minor meltdown, but laid-back Amber took it in her stride and didn’t let the fact that all her trekking clothes, toiletries and most devastatingly of all, her cosy sleeping bag, wouldn’t be joining us.

Thankfully, she had packed her hiking boots in her carry-on luggage, and everyone chipped in with whatever supplies they could. We headed for the hotel, tired but full of team spirit.

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DAYS 2–3

After savouring what would be our final night in a real bed for a while, we set off for our first day. We were scheduled to walk 15km across the desert in the energy-sapping heat, our wobbly legs taking their time to get used to the rocky terrain as people swapped stories about what had brought them here.

Stevie Davis, 33, from Stroud in Gloucestershire, had pre-cancerous cells in her womb when she was 25.

Within six weeks, she was then diagnosed with stage 1b1 cancer in March 2014, and after eight years of treatment, including the removal of her lymph nodes in her groin, a full hysterectomy and going through early menopause, she is now cancer-free.

“Having a hysterectomy at 28 seems like a simple decision because it’s your life or your womb,” she said.

“But five years on and now in my 30s, I have moments when it hits me that I won’t be able to have biological children. I just concentrate on the fact that I’m alive.”

After six hours of trekking behind our guide Abdullah, the Bedouins who looked after us – driving our luggage to and from each camp – and the two donkeys who carried our water, we were relieved to arrive at our first camp. The lack of shower and toilets came as a rude awakening, but bonds were strengthened as we settled into our tents.


We had to be up and ready for breakfast at 7.30am, but most of the group were trying to find a rock to do their, ahem, business behind long before that.

Our Charity Challenge leader Ian warned us that the day ahead would be the hardest of the week, with 10km to trek and uphill ascents of 2,000m – and he wasn’t kidding!

But when we made it to the top of the peak we were rewarded with breathtaking views.

We ploughed back down the other side and, six hours after setting off, walked into our new camp for a dinner of delish veg curry, rice and home-made flatbread, prepared in the make-shift kitchen tent the Bedouin guides set up each day and night.


Not long after sunrise at 5.30am, the heat felt harsher than ever at 40°C, as flies buzzed around us.

We had 14km of walking ahead of us, and with legs still sore from the intense climbs the day before, we all had to rally round each other.

The day’s trek was worth it when we got to the camp later that evening and could settle down to watch the epic sunset.

The moment was made even sweeter by the arrival of Amber’s lost luggage – which Charity Challenge had managed to track down.


We were 11km into the day’s walk across the rocky landscape when we crowded into a shaded spot under a tree for lunch, and one of the locals cooked us flatbread using a hot pit in the sand, serving it with tomato stew.

Those suffering from sore feet, like Kate Mullinger, 28, from Leicestershire, used the time to retape their toes with the help of our doctor Andy.

Kate was told she had pre-cancerous cells aged 24 and had a LLETZ procedure to remove them.

The Jo’s website was a lifeline for her as she waited for news from the hospital. “It meant I didn’t feel as alone,” she explained. 


Friday was the day we were all waiting for – when we got to finish off our walk at Petra, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

We spent hours roaming about the 2,000-year-old archaeological site, which covers more than 100 square miles.

Later that evening at our hotel, we laughed at everyone’s transformation now we were showered and rested.

As we sat down for dinner, we sobbed at the farewell speeches given by Jo’s rep Kate, leader Ian and guide Abdullah.

Kate told us just how important the money we had raised was to the charity, helping to boost awareness of the importance of smear tests, take up of which is at record low levels.


Despite our blisters and sunburn, none of us wanted to leave Jordan as we headed for the airport.

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Finding out that we had raised over £85,000 was the icing on the cake.

As everyone hugged goodbye, we promised to stay in touch – bonded by a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

Could you take on the three highest mountains in the UK to support Jo’s?

Next spring Jo’s will be challenging trekkers to take on the three highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales to raise funds for the charity.

On May 19-21, 2023, you could be one of the plucky fund-raisers trekking 26 miles and reaching a height of almost 3,000m.

For more information about cervical cancer, Jo’s and the 2023 trek, visit

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