A woman created a wish-list to do before 40 and managed to do everything from it.
A woman nearing her 40th birthday has completed an incredible list of dreams and challenges after vowing to turn a negative life experience into a positive.
Gina Pennington, now 40, from Kendal, Cumbria, found new love following divorce from a childless marriage.
But hopes to start a family with her new husband were dashed when she was faced the devastating discovery she was unable to have children of her own.
With her 40th birthday approaching, Gina decided to turn her misfortune into a positive, vowing to experience everything she had ever wanted to do - so she created a ‘bucket list’ of 40 activities and challenges for herself.
Photo: just before taking a glider flight over the Eden valley
From personal challenges that truly tested her confidence, such as starring in a nude photo shoot, poledancing and busking with friend to make enough money for lunch to extreme experiences such as skydiving, knife throwing and abseiling, the list encompassed everything Gina hoped to do in her life.
The challenges also involved travel, including an all-nighter in Ibiza, revisiting Paris and skinny dipping in Turkey.
Photo: Mid way through running the London marathon,which Gina had vowed to do dressed as Wonder Woman
Gina explains that the purpose of the list, which she nicknamed her ‘Fab-u-list’ was to offset the hardships she had faced in her life.
‘I’d got married at 19 but after a few years we drifted apart, realising we’d been too young.
‘After my divorce I was alone for a while, then I met Dave at a squash club.
‘We got on instantly - I also became an instant step-mum to his two boys, Dean then 13 and Jake, then 10.
‘Life with Dave and the kids was fun. And after a couple of years, when I was 30, Dave proposed in Paris and we married two years later.
Photo: Gina, pictured learning to pole dance says: 'Rather than freaking out at 40 I feel fabulous'
‘I had a steady life and job in sales - but there was something missing. Although I loved Dave’s boys dearly, I also yearned for children of my own.
‘When nothing happened we dug into our life savings and embarked on IVF. It was a slow process which took its toll on our finances and our emotions and when it failed we were disappointed. But luckily we were a strong couple.
Gina admits that after her experiences, she was not looking forward to turning 40.
Photo: Gina vowed to complete her list before she turned 40, doing unusual things such as learning the art of trapeze
‘By now I’d just turned 39, the big 4-0 was approaching. I’d always been an optimist, but it had been a big knock and like some of my friends the usual insecurities were also creeping in.
‘Then one day me and a friend were chatting about walking around Snowdon and Scafell Pike. It hit me that the old cliche is true: life isn't a dress rehearsal and I had to make the most of it.
‘I began thinking about all the things I wanted to achieve and came up with 40 challenges to complete by the time I hit 40.
Photo: Gina attempting clay pigeon shooting. She says 'with every event came a sense of achievement and fun'
‘It was a bit like a bucket list, except I wasn't planning on dying any time soon, so instead it became my fab-u-list of wishes I wanted to come true,’ Gina explains.
However, even her family were sceptical that Gina would be able to complete the ambitious list in a year.
‘‘You’ll never do all that Mum,’ the boys cried incredulously,’ Gina says, ‘Even Dave raised his eyebrows.
Photo: This was after my first wild camp; seeing the sunrise from the top of a mountain'
But Gina was determined to complete the challenge she had set herself.
‘In August last year, in between work, I set about embarking on the list.
‘Some things I paid for, others I blagged my way in.
‘With some I even resorted to bribery - trading my home made cakes for the abseil.
‘But with every event came a sense of achievement and fun. And each experience gave me a precious and unique memory. I even wrote a blog about each adventure and soon family, friends and colleagues were hooked.
Photo: Some of Gina's list was made up of luxury experiences such as tea at the Savoy hotel in London
‘What are you doing next?’ they’d ask, even my customers joined in. Some also said I’d inspired them to try new things too.
As she hit 40, Gina had managed to achieve all but 6 of her list, ticking off another on her birthday itself.
‘In June this year a month before my 40th I couldn’t believe how many I’d achieved and when the big day came round I ticked off another on my list - an all nighter in Ibiza as me and Dave stayed up and partied at cafe Mumba, then watched the dawn rise.
‘During the last four months I've achieved another four things on my list and now I’ve only got one thing left to do, a ‘helicopter ride, which I’ll achieve in the spring.
‘But rather than freaking out at 40 I feel fabulous - what’s more I’m glad I’ve inspired a few others along the way!’
Photo:Some of Gina's list were experience things she had missed out on in her youth, such as attending hrer first festival at Kendal Calling
Gina and husband Dave at Cafe Mambo in Ibiza on her 40th birthday watching the sunset. They then went into Pacha to dance all night
Gina enjoyed lunch at the exclusive Le Gavroche restaurant where he meal was cooked for her by renowned chef Michel Roux Jnr
Gina, pictured here learning archery, constructed the list based on all the things she wished to achieve in her life