Loughborough Alumni

Our alumni

Gemma Hillier-Moses

Founder: MOVE Charity

Gemma Hillier-Moses graduated from Loughborough with a degree in Sport and Exercise Science in 2009. In her alumni profile, Gemma talks about her athletics career whilst at Loughborough to representing England in competitions, and her inspiration to found MOVE Charity.

Why did you choose to study Sport and Exercise Science at Loughborough?

I fell in love with Loughborough University when I first saw it and I knew that a campus university was something I wanted to be part of. It felt so welcoming and had such a community feel about it. The sports facilities were incredible and have got better each year. I wanted to be part of an inspiring set up for both my degree and my sport. I achieved straight A’s in my A Levels and wanted to go to the best university possible for Sport and Exercise Science.

How has your time at Loughborough University inspired you and helped you to progress in your career?

My time spent at Loughborough gave me so many new experiences and skills that I wouldn’t have gained had I not gone to university. I met likeminded people who have become friends for life and I also met my husband here in my first year. I studied a degree I was passionate about, I was able to focus on my athletics, I learnt how to live independently and I also learnt how to balance study time with the epic nights out at the UK’s best Student Union.

Some people may think University is just about the degree alone. For me it really wasn’t. I gained some incredible life experiences especially when I was given the opportunity to go and study at the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia for a semester of my degree. That 7 months was truly life changing and created memories that would last a lifetime and I am so thankful to Loughborough University for that experience.

What advice would you give to current or prospective students looking to study the same course that you did?

The advice I would give would be to always seek out and take up new and exciting opportunities such as studying abroad for a semester or a year out in industry if possible. Also get involved in opportunities outside your course. I became a Nike Student Brand Ambassador while I was at university and the second job I secured straight out of university was with the UK Nike Brand Marketing team. I ended up spending 5 years of my career with Nike.

Being a member of AU Athletics, how did this impact upon your Loughborough experience?

Being part of the AU Athletics Club was such an important part of my university life. Athletics is and was a big part of my life at university and being part of the club helped me create so many incredible memories. I spent a year as cross country captain while I was in my final year and this experience really helped me develop new skills, meet new people and really helped when I came to applying for jobs as a graduate. Through athletics at university I got to travel the country and world through training camps and races.

After graduation, where did your athletics career take you?

After graduation my athletics career went from strength to strength. I have been lucky enough to have represented my country on a number of occasions, travelling around the UK and abroad. I have trained and competed in countries such as America, South Africa, Australia, Spain and Slovakia.

What has been the proudest moment of your athletics career so far?

I have represented England on a number of occasions however my proudest ever moment in my athletics career was running the Great North in Run in 2012 two months after being diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and in between chemotherapy cycles.  I ran it 2 days after finishing a 10 day cycle of chemotherapy and with 3 more cycles of chemotherapy left to go. I ran the Great North run that day in 2hours and 23 mins with my mum, dad and sister by my side. I crossed that line during the hardest and darkest time of my life but it was the most amazing feeling ever. We also raised £20,000 for the Leicester Hospitals charity to help them build a new ward in the hospital for young people living with cancer.

I always said this would be my proudest ever moment in life.

I went back this year in 2017 and ran the Great North run with my husband Lewis Moses 5 years later in an hour and 3 minutes quicker recording a time of 80minutes 45 seconds.

How did the idea to found Move Charity come about?

MOVE supports children and young people living with cancer through the power and inspiration of physical activity and Sport.

Being diagnosed with cancer at the age of 24 was one of the hardest and scariest times in my life. I knew from the day I was diagnosed as long as I survived it would change my life forever and my emotions would sit on a whole new playing field. I would learn to deal with these emotions but also channel them into something so vital for young people. This is how MOVE started and I’m so excited to build, develop and inspire children and young people through the power and inspiration of physical activity and sport.

My perspective and values had changed so much when I was diagnosed with cancer. For me cancer completely put my life into perspective and every day I think about it, still now. How life can be so easily turned upside down or taken away from you! I struggled with that for a long time but the thing that kept me focused and gave my life meaning was running. Not only did it help mentally but running is a form of physical activity and by keeping physically active I was maintaining my strength through treatment and it played a huge part in my recovery.

During my experience with cancer I realised that there was a lack of knowledge and education provided to patients and health care professionals around physiological and psychological benefits of physical activity both during treatment and recovery. People with a chronic illness should not be treated in a one-dimensional way. Physical activity can provide so many incredible benefits both physical and psychologically for someone living with cancer and there is a wealth of evidence to prove this.  It’s so important we support that person from the very beginning of their cancer diagnosis.

Every diagnosis is different and every person diagnosed with cancer needs to be worked with individually.  From listening to young people whether they were inactive or active before treatment I feel that there is a strong need for this support and advice.

I studied Sport and Exercise Science at Loughborough University and have always had a passion for physical activity and health. However, I only realised the true importance of physical activity after I’d finished my cancer treatment. Physical activity gave me the focus I needed and kept my body strong to fight the disease. I started reading the Virgin Way by Richard Branson and a quote in there really gave me the push I needed to make the dream of MOVE become a reality: “Life is not a dress rehearsal”. You can’t get any more obvious words than this but how many of us really live our life with this in mind?

 I learnt that regardless of being a profit or non-profit organisation you are an entrepreneur. You have to act and think differently and you don’t have to do things the ordinary way. Forget the 9-5, forget the box ticking and forget doing things the same way everyone does things. You just get the same results. Go do things differently and make your mark and that’s how MOVE started.

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