Gills touching story

PUBLISHED: 11:34 04 March 2011 | UPDATED: 15:35 20 February 2013

A Marlow businesswoman has turned a life-threatening experience into a successful enterprise

Christmas Eve is a time when Marlow businesswoman Gill Tree reflects on her own Christmas in 1989, stranded alone, lost, sick and freezing in the Kenyan wilderness. When two locals found her that night, she believes it was the beginning of a new life.

"I'd become disorientated by altitude sickness climbing Mount Kenya. I'd lost my companion and walked for days through a river, with no food and shivering myself to sleep at night. It may sound clichd, but once I returned home I really felt that I'd been brought back for a higher purpose," says Gill.

By 1992 she had given up her work as a social worker and turned her hobby, teaching massage, into a full-time business, Essentials for Health in Marlow. "I knew I had a genuine desire to work with people, so I thought carefully about my abilities, talked to a lot of people and sought professional advice." Gill was already qualified in massage, anatomy and physiology, and had been teaching part-time. "I was further inspired by my travels to the Far East where the healing power of touch is a part of the culture and massage is practically a way of life."

A leading figure

Today her company has a team of 17 staff and tutors providing holistic, sports and aromatherapy massage diplomas for trainee therapists, skilled therapists or individuals taking it up as a hobby. The courses are available at St Thomas's Hospital in London, round the UK at various locations, and, from January 2009, on-line. Dedicated to promote the healing power of touch, Gill has been a leading figure in the industry, appearing on TV, attending conferences and writing books. Her most recent, It's a Jungle Out There, is based on her experiences in Kenya.

"My vision is to transform the health, relationships and the lives of people not just in the UK but in as many places as possible, by showing how to use touch to facilitate communication and connection, relaxation and healing." In 1996 she brought the International Association of Infant Massage to the UK and in 2000 she introduced the Swedish Massage in Schools programme to this country.

Having no prior business knowledge, Gill contacted Business Link, who helped her with various grants. "They provided me with great contacts, ideas and solutions, and the fact they are removed from the company makes them completely impartial which is really key for me."

Contact: Essentials for Health on

0845 108 0088.

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