No challenge too great for animal lover Janey McGill

WE TALK to Janey McGill about her passion for adventure and some of her challenges to raise money for charity.


Janey McGill has been inspired to set herself a number of challenges recently which have raised money for several charities.


JANEY McGILL has had a passion for the outdoors from a young age. She studied for and completed a BSc in geography and soon after joined the TA. After a horrific horse accident her career in the Army was cut short and she was left to find new ways to entertain herself and make a living.


In recent years Janey has been busy in all areas of life but here talks to us specifically about some of her recent charity fundraising challenges including ‘630 miles, 616 sunflower seeds, 616 wounded soldiers’ and her ’90-mile non-stop’ challenge on Dartmoor. Read on to find out about some of the highs and lows of the adventures as well as where she plans to head to next. You’ll be as inspired as we were by her grit and positive attitude as well as the passion she has for her dogs.


Janey blogs at www.janeymcgill.com where you will find her frank and witty musings a pleasure to read.


Devnon coast

Janey on the Devon coast with three Royal Marine Commandos.


How long have you had a passion for adventure and what made you join the TA?


As a kid I was always a bit of a tomboy – more inclined to be out in the barn with the ponies, building a treehouse or playing in the mud with my brother and his buddies.


In hindsight changing my degree was a good indicator that I was into the outdoors and up for a challenge. BSc Geography had a far superior field trip to New Zealand than the BA, so I was sold.


I joined the TA as a precursor for joining the Army Legal Service. I was studying to become a lawyer and the thought of spending my life behind a desk frightened me. It was a good compromise and the only one I wanted to envisage.


Joining the Army is the best thing I ever did. It gave me great confidence in my ability. The friendships and bonds that are created mean you are part of a club and a family for life.


dog walking

Janey pictured with faithful companions Sid and Winston.


Tell us about the accident which forced you to have a change of lifestyle and how did you come to terms with this?


On applying for the ALS the recession had hit and they were not recruiting for the foreseeable future.


Annoyingly I had been working towards this goal for four years and achieving it at this point in time was not an option. I had a career reassessment with a friend over a bottle of wine which resulted in opening a touring art gallery, basically a massive converted lorry, specialising in rural contemporary art.


As this change of career was evolving I was training for the Royal Artillery Gold Cup, a military horse race at Sandown Park.


Frustratingly, one morning, I ended up underneath the horse on the gallops, with five fractured vertebrae, collapsed lungs, broken ribs and a rather large chunk out of my tongue. Luckily my father had come to watch that morning and pinned me down until the air ambulance arrived. He thought I was dying.


Poor old Treacle was not so lucky and had to be put down two weeks later. What was thought to be whiplash turned out to be fractured vertebrae.


At the time I cracked on. I had my new business to focus on and regaining my health. It was an interesting time and I learnt a lot. I worked from bed while my business partner went to meetings. It took about two years and a couple of ops to get fighting fit again. I got a good bit of metal work and a mean war wound out of it!


What’s your day-to-day life like and what’s it like living with your two dogs?


Sid, Winston and I come as a team, they are essential to my being and contentment.

The last 18 months have been a bit all over the place. I left my business and moved to a friend’s farm in the middle of Devon, worked in his nightclub and pubs, took piano lessons, and the dogs had more walks then they could wish for. I went back to basics.


I’m currently in a bid to get on the straight and narrow, pay some bills off and work out what I really want to do, I have taken a job as an estate agent back in London. I have some great people from Borrow My Doggy who check on the boys during the day.


Pre and post Brexit things are quiet but this is proving to be perfect, it is offering me valuable time to learn Arabic, write and plan trips. Importantly it offers me structure to focus on moving in the right direction, yet to be determined.


dogs car

Sid and Winston find some time to rest albeit under a map of a future walk they would join Janey on.


What was the inspiration for your 630 miles, 616 sunflower seeds, 616 wounded soldiers challenge and who were you raising money for? Could you tell us a bit about the challenge and some of the highs and the lows?


Sunflowers for Soldiers was my way of doing my bit for our soldiers that served in Afghanistan. I was unable to go myself and that lies heavily on my shoulders. So if I can help those that did this can only be positive.


I was raising money for Horseback UK, and planting a sunflower for each of the 616 severely wounded serviceman from the Afghanistan legacy along the 630 miles.


The charity help physically and mentally injured serviceman with horses, which are a great tonic. It offers the lads and lasses a degree of freedom which they might not otherwise be privy too. Four legs as opposed to one or even none.


In addition to honouring our soldiers the challenge was intended to be gruelling, 630 miles and fourth equivalent climbs of Mt Everest. A metaphor for recovering from life changing injury and a personal test.


The first couple of days were gruelling, it was raining and I covered a huge amount of ground, but the truth is, as I became fitter it became a pleasure.


I was lucky to bump into a veteran Royal Marine, Taff, who was walking John O’Groats to Land’s End in memory of his wife. He was supported by Royal Marines Association, North Devon, Commando Logistic Regiment and 42 Commando for ten days and as a result this wonderful band of brothers took me and my support team in as well.


In addition the Royal Marines were formed in the grounds of my Regiment, the Honourable Artillery Company back in 1664, my closest friend has just hung up his RM boots and my partner is still serving with RMR. So I feel a very close affiliation and affection for the Corps.



Janey has always had a passion for horses but unfortunately was involved in an accident which saw her have to make several lifestyle changes.


When did you then decide to do your 90-mile non-stop challenge on Dartmoor and who were you raising money for? What was that experience like?


Walking 630m over a period of time was clearly manageable and not punishing enough. Therefore a shorter distance non stop might be the key. I’m curious as to where my limits lie.

I was raising money for The Royal Marines Charities.


On my sunflower walk I met a legend of a man, John Peel, who is Chairman of the Royal Marines Association, North Devon. I approached him with my plan. In a nutshell, he organised a support team of five serving Royal Marine Commandos, Bob the Yank, a US Marine who served in Vietnam, and two veteran Commandos, who served across the globe.


Ninety miles in 39 hrs was tough, I felt physical sensations in my body which I had not experienced before, in some instances quite torturous. Sharing those experiences with the others made it bearable and with the calibre of support I had and a bit of AC/DC thrown in we saw it through.


Tell us about your next challenge planned and the training you will have to put yourself through to be ready for it?


Oman is the next biggy. I am obsessive about the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula, the history, people, religion, culture, everything. I have visited before and I find the place consumingly enchanting.


I’m intrigued by the relationship that we have with Oman, since the Battle of Mirbat fought by the SAS in 1972 and what will occur in future generations.


I think it’ll be around 1,000 miles across mountains and the Empty Quarter. A historical and cultural exploration of the military, Arabic heritage and European exploration as well as a decent physical challenge, I’ve not crossed a large desert before.


Training wise I’m learning Arabic, increasing my knowledge of the area and awakening contacts that I have. As a geography graduate I am in the process of joining the RGS, a resource I have not yet tapped, as a fellow. Physically I walk the dogs plenty and work on my core daily, that’s really all the training I will do. I’m fit for purpose!



Janey takes a moment to pose for a photo with Sid, Winston and some of her kit which has served her well on recent adventures.


Tell us a bit about your blog and how important it is to you to connect with like-minded people on the internet?


The blog is a place where I can drop some bombs. There are bits that are uncomfortable, nerve wracking and it makes me feel a little bit sick. It’s my life’s adventure and it’s not all pretty. That said, I am very conscious that there are people a dam site worse off than me!

I see things very differently since my accident, my mortality has become a huge driver for me. I don’t want children, I’m not fussed about marriage, I’m not bothered about having a conventional career or lifestyle. This has been a huge challenge in itself. Basically I have a need to push myself and if I don’t set myself constant challenges I struggle to function.


If others can relate and take something from my experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly, then all the better.


soldiers walking

Janey’s next challenge will take place in Oman and is set to be the most exciting next.


What’s your plan for the next few years and what do you see yourself doing in five years’ time?


I certainly won’t be sat in an estate agents – I have a lot more exploring and physical endeavours I need to pursue.


I’ll be looking to do more charity events for our veterans and wounded. Ideally I’d like to set up an annual event open to the public –I’m doing recess over time.


Also working on a documentary series on women in the military around the world. There are some pretty awesome girls out there doing some cool, dangerous and exciting stuff and I want to explore that.



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