Posted on 18th June 2020 by Philippa Wilford

Jean O’Hara is setting off for the trek of a lifetime, and raising money for Health & Hope in the process.

We caught up with Jean during Lockdown to find out how her training is going.


Hi Jean! You are planning on trekking across the Jordan desert in October. What on earth inspired you to take up such a challenge?

I turn 60 this year, and decided I needed to mark it by setting a goal. I have raised money by taking part in 10-25km sponsored walks in England before, but I wanted to do something really big. So, on New Year’s Day, my friend Jill and I signed up for five days of trekking across the Jordan desert, from the Dead Sea to reach Petra.

I have never been to this part of the world before, and the more I read about it, the more exciting - and daunting - it sounded. The terrain is varied and difficult. It is hot during the day, and gets very cold at night. It is a supported trek, but I am under no illusions that it will test our strength and stamina.


Has Lockdown affected your preparation?

Yes, it has certainly made things harder! The company we are going with gave a useful training programme, but it was hard to stick to because initially we were only allowed to exercise locally for a limited time each day. Also, the trip itself felt uncertain, and so motivation to keep on training became difficult for a while.

However, with Lockdown easing, and being able to go further afield and to meet up and train with my friend Jill means we’re back on track, motivated and feeling hopeful that it will go ahead.


What made you choose Health & Hope as your charity to support?

My trip is fully self-funded, but I thought it was a good opportunity to raise some money for a worthwhile cause. 

I’ve raised money for large charities before. This time I wanted to support an organisation where I could see my money make a specific difference. 

My dad was Burmese, born and raised in Rangoon, so this part of the world appealed to me. Both my parents have known the struggle of poverty and hardship and the value of education. Seeing the way Health & Hope seeks to support local communities in these particular areas is exactly the type of work I want to enable. 

I trained in medicine and have spent my career as a psychiatrist, working with people who live with severe mental health problems. I chose to further specialize in the mental health of people with learning disabilities. They often experience adversity, trauma, stigma and discrimination and struggle to have their needs met and their voices heard. Projects such as Education for All are life-changing, and so Health & Hope's targeted fundraising for initiatives such as these is fantastic. As a fundraiser, I can see the difference my support will make.

Also, I read the story of Dr Sasa — what an inspirational man! He has dedicated his work to giving back to his community.


Thank you for your time, we will look forward to hearing how you get on!

If you would like to support Health & Hope through taking part in a fundraising challenge, and would like ideas and support, then do get in touch with our Partnerships Manager, Philippa by emailing

View all the latest news