Tag Archives: fundraising

A mile in your shoes…

I’m a bit of a Harry Potter fan. When I re-stumbled upon this Dumbledore quote, it gave my challenge new purpose. I’m doing this for Dad. And, with Dad, I can do it.

It is the Easter holidays for 2 weeks. I’m half and half on how I feel about them. Part of me really loves having the bigger girl around, shes funny, helpful, kind & chatty. The other part of me misses the structure of routine, the silence of nap times, the flow of the day. The biggest change of all is my morning walk.

Every morning, after school drop-off. Baby & I head off for a 3-5mile power buggy walk. In the beginning, it was to get her to nap. Whilst that is still my primary conscious concern, I didn’t realise until this week just how much *I* rely on it.

We’re still heading out for walks, the 3 of us, but they are slower, shorter, more stressful. The usual 9.02am eye-closing is replaced by a fraught crying & yelling & 9.18am eye closing, because baby has spotted her big sister & thinks it is play time. Poor big girl has to walk ahead of the buggy, out of sight – this makes me feel bad.

I’m conscious that I need to let baby sleep for her half hour nap (or else all hell will break loose), but also that 6 year old legs can’t walk as fast or as far as mine – though, to give her credit, she has powered through miles in rain & sun without a single moan & joyful exclamations about how “fit” she will be.

I miss the head-space afforded by 40minutes of zoning out.

I’ve realised that I am governed by times & timings. I *think* that my grief & post-natal hum has been, so far, managed by strictly controlling each portion of my day. This explains my unease at things (or me) running late, of baby not napping or eating on time, at people phoning during meal or nap times, the horror of someone wanting to “pop in” at an unarranged time. And I know people look at me with a “wtf” expression when I can’t do x, y or z because of naps, feeds, etc, but you can’t understand how someone else copes, you can only ever understand how you would cope. You cannot judge someone based on how you would handle a situation. You cannot walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. You can only support them. Judging them or using condescending or negative tones isn’t helpful. You are an expert of your own experiences only.

I digress… back to the walking. I’m a numbers nerd. I love the data that my fitbit gives me. Each week, I try to better the last (another mental battle I’m trying to “be cool” about this week). I try to ensure that I reach at least 5 miles a day, every day – with 5 weekday walks & 1 long weekend hike in place, slowly building up the miles. I’m SO looking forward to the challenge & truly believe it is totally achievable.

I’ve been clocking up 6, 7 & 8 miles regularly, but I now need to start chasing double figures. Dad, being a military man, always said “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” & so, I’m doing my very best, with the time & resources I have.

Grief leaves a huge hole in your soul. I feel as though different types of grief are digested and managed in different ways. No grief is more or less important than others, but some leave a much larger gap.

My hope is that the fundraising achieved through doing this challenge, will go someway to help find a cure or treatment for Parkinson’s Disease. I hope that it may fund a specialist Parkinson’s nurse. A valuable piece of equipment. Anything that might ease another family through a turbulent period.

Nic & I have been truly astounded by the generosity of those that have donated, we really have. To think that so many of you have been so thoughtful is truly heartwarming & we really appreciate every single donation, Really, every pound makes such a difference. If you’d like to donate to our 50km hiking challenge, we would be thrilled. You can find the justgiving page here.

Thank you all so much. Be kind to one another. xx

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Biscuits are Important!

Never underestimate the importance of a biscuit during a pivotal moment of life…

I went on a training walk this morning, around 8 or so miles. On my return, I had a fig roll. It wasn’t an ordinary fig roll, but the last in a very significant pack. This was the pack that I bought on the morning of New Year’s Eve – the day that Dad passed away.

There’s a standing joke in my family, that I always deal with any situation by providing food. Probably true. Anyway, in December, I had debated whether to take jaffa cakes or fig rolls over to Dad. I knew he loved both & though he was barely able to eat at all, he never turned down a bite of cake or biscuit. So, I plumped for fig rolls and headed over.

I never thought that he’d never see them. I envisaged bounding in to his room… “hi Dad, I’ve got you some fig rolls”…

Anyway, it was today, almost 3 months on, we opened the pack. So insignificant and significant at the same time.

The grief becomes less constant, but more powerful. Rather than a perpetual ache, it swings between normality & all consuming sinking.

If, by walking & walking & walking, we can raise any amount of money that could help another family through this, or to fund a Parkinson’s specialist Nurse, or can help to fund research in to symptom management, well, anything would make it all so worth it.

Each & every donation helps to top up the team pot. We are hoping to not just reach our fundraising target, but to obliterate it. If you are able to help us to do this here, we will be so thankful. Every pound really does help. Thank you all so much! xx

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Making 2017 All About Dad

In all honesty, the last 7 months have been a whirlwind. They have knocked me for 6 198376484! 2016 was indeed one hell of a year, but this is why 2017 WILL be better.

July of last year saw me bring my second daughter in to this world. The birth went as well as these things can, but a few problems saw us stuck in hospital for a few of days afterwards. Keen to escape and get back to a slightly different “normal”, we headed home. Anyone that has been through labour and the first few weeks of caring for a baby will know what a rollercoaster we were already on.

Just a few weeks after our daughter’s birth, I received a phonecall from Mum. Dad had been admitted to a hospice for symptom management. This call didn’t immediately concern me. Dad had been suffering with the varying and increasing symptoms associated with Parkinson’s Disease for over 20 years. Respite, hospital stays and additional care had become somewhat usual. It was only after speaking with Mum, that I knew things were worse than before.

The problem with Parkinson’s is that it is so unlike other diseases. It doesn’t affect just one area. It attacks all of you, physically, mentally. Parkinson’s affects muscular control – eventually, the muscles just can’t do what you want them to. Not just limbs, but the very essence of all movement. Blinking, talking, balance, swallowing. It was the last of these symptoms that had begun to set in.

An inability to swallow obviously means that it is very difficult to ingest foods and drinks. Not just that though, it means that saliva cannot be swallowed in a regular way, so it builds up & has nowhere to go but out. This also means that speech can be difficult if not impossible.

Nutrition and hydration can sometimes be solved by either tube feeding (through the nose/mouth) or via a peg direct to the stomach. Unfortunately for Dad, neither of these were suitable due to the severity of other symptoms and issues. So that leaves us…?! Oh.

I can’t tell you the pain & anguish involved in that kind of news.

Dad was bought a little more time with some wonderful medication that helped to halt the production of saliva. This at least meant that he could get a few words out, when he wasn’t too tired. It also meant that we were able to help him take in a little liquefied food and drink (despite his best efforts to get us to fetch him some fish and chips). He asked for ice cream and champagne a lot!

Dad was, after a few months moved to a nursing home that specialises in complex care. He was well looked after & had heaps of visitors. His chair from home was brought in for him. Though he then became bed-bound. Not once did Dad ever moan, complain or cry. He was the very essence of composure. He always was. Totally unshakeable.

On the 31st December 2016, Dad passed away, peacefully, with us all at the nursing home – though I was feeding my baby in the family room & missed his last breath by about 30 seconds – something I will eternally beat myself up over. I think & hope he knew that I was there though.

The hospice that Dad was in was St Wilfrid’s Hospice in Eastbourne. The care team there, medical, support and volunteer are just amazing. A real home from home. So warm , welcoming & supportive. It is also incredibly family friendly & peaceful. A real gem in the care sector.

One beautiful Summer’s day, my sister and I were with Dad at St. Wilfrid’s. Dad dozing in his bed, the sun streaming through the open door to the gardens. We decided that we should take on a challenge that could help us to raise money, in a way as a thanks to Dad & all those that were supporting us all.

Nic and I usually take on the moonwalk marathon in London, but we felt we needed to do something closer to home this time. We found the South Downs Challenge – a 50km hike. One of the partner charities was Parkinson’s UK. We discussed at great length whether we should fundraise for Parkinson’s UK or for the St. Wilfrid’s Hospice as they had been so good to him & us. We eventually decided to raise funds for Parkinson’s UK, as they have been working with us as a family for over 20years.

My fundraising page for the challenge can be found here and any donations to our event would be so very welcome!

However, I cannot shake the feeling that I need to do something to say thank you to St. Wilfrid’s for everything they did & the peaceful time that we had there (slightly less peaceful when my baby started to cry… sorry about that!). So, I have decided that I will personally raise money over the course of 2017.

I will be and have been measuring my daily mileage on my fitbit and for every mile I walk/run/hop/cycle/dance/crawl I will donate 10p. I seem to clock up somewhere between 3 & 5 miles in a normal day, so once the big training gets underway for our South Downs Challenge, I’ll be able to get some decent mileage under my belt and a bulging fundraiser for St. Wilfrid’s.

I’ll keep you up to date with my mileage as the year goes on & as the clock strikes midnight on New Years eve, the anniversary day of my wonderful Father’s passing, I shall tally up my total miles and convert it to a donation. I’m not asking for help on this, I’m raising it with my own feet, however, if you do ever wish to add to my pot, please let me know & I will gladly send you details on how to top up the donation fund. The hospice is absolutely worth every penny & if you have ever had need of them, you’ll already know that!

Here’s to 2017, here’s to you, Dad xxxxx

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A moonwalk with a difference!

Long time no post – lots has been happening. I’ve qualified as a personal trainer & am now 31weeks pregnant & still continuing to train. This last weekend saw (probably) my last event before baby number 2 arrives & it was my sister and I taking on the London moonwalk, but this time the half moon, at 15.1miles.

Saturday and Sunday, our Halfmoon Challenge!

Saturday and Sunday, our Halfmoon Challenge!

Our fundraising page has reached £290.50 & we’d obviously LOVE to break that £300 barrier! You can find our page here!

Here’s how the story goes:

Good evening all!
I think we are both on the road to recovery today, but obviously very tired! It’s amazing what a huge impact missing one night of sleep can have on you. Having said that, being able to watch the London sky transform from a deep, deep blue to a wonderful & beautiful baby blue is such an awesome sight & it really helps you push along the last few miles!
Our training for the event started right back in January. Taking in long routes and trekking the Sussex coast and countryside. It’s certainly not an event that you can just rock up to & do, your actual skeletal system just won’t allow it. It isn’t the distance, or muscle power that is the limiting factor in these events, it is the mental obstacle & the bone-on-bone grinding of the latter stages.
The event was enormous, thousands and thousands of people had turned up. Some of the bras were outstandingly decorated & some groups of people had entire costumes & makeup based around the ‘carnival’ theme. I’ve got to say, the atmosphere is wonderful & a whole heap of careful planning makes the event village buzz with energy (& the smell of pasta – which you get  to eat before you walk!).
The walk itself was very hard work. We were both so surprised at how tricky it was, considering that we did an extra 11.1 miles on top of the distance last year. We figured that part of it is that mental barrier, your body instantly responds to the enormity of a challenge, once it knows the end point – so 15.1miles became our new 26.2. This was evidenced by how long it felt to reach the first mile marker, last year, it appeared after what felt like a few steps!
The walk was made slightly more tricky (& a lot longer) by the fact that we hit quite a few bottle necks between miles 1&2 – we were stood still, or shuffling for a good 30minutes, followed by a few more bottlenecks along the rest of the route – usually on the run up to big crossings. This was something we didn’t hit last year, so I’m not sure if the route was busier, or that we were walking faster, or that we left earlier, but it did make keeping a pace quite difficult.
Thanks to having a 31week baby hugging my bladder, we did have to make 2 toilet stops, both of these added 20-30minutes on to our time – we managed the full distance last year without a single stop, so again, keeping a good pace was difficult.
A couple of other issues we faced were joint and muscle discomforts. Not surprisingly, carrying out the same motion (like walking) over and over for hours at a time, leads to some insanely uncomfortable areas. Nic was getting shooting pains from her glute, right down through the hamstring, we both had aching lower backs & hips & feet. We made a few stops to stretch out, instant relief to move your self in a slightly different pattern, but the relief is then instantly removed once the walking starts again! These little stretch stops added a little time on to our route again, as did our little 5 minute snack stop at mile 10, where we sat on a bench, over looking the river & the lit-up London eye. Beautiful, but still 5.1miles to cover!
We seemed to find more of a pace once we had cleared mile 11 & although we were tired, aching & desperate to finish, your body allows you to slip in to almost a robot state, where you kind of unconsciously continue walking, driving one foot in front of the other, only conscious of the mileage left & the various aches & pains coursing through your body. Everything else is almost a blur, as though you are in a little bubble. This really helps towards the end, you just concentrate on that dropping mileage, the support from friends and family thorough our donation page & that glorious feeling of crossing that finish line.
In total, the entire 15.1miles took is just over 6hours – crazy to think that we managed the full 26.2 in 7.5hours last year! However, until you have walked continuously for hours at a time, it really is difficult to imagine how grueling it can be. Add in some shooting pains, burning feet and the enormous additional weight & discomfort that already comes with being over 30 weeks pregnant & I guess even just finishing the walk is an achievement in itself.
We were both so worried that we might not finish. We really really didn’t want to let our sponsors down. We knew that we had to get the course done, not just for us, not just for our wonderful sponsors, but for every single person that will be helped by our efforts.
The money raised is for such a wonderful cause. To be able to move ourselves in order to help those touched by the evils of breast cancer, is truly humbling. We are both so happy that we are in a position to be able to help. For each ache, pain, sigh & expletive uttered under our breath, we feel blessed that we are physically able to pound the pavements to raise money to help those who wish they could even stand, walk more than a few hundred metres, see London by night or even just still be with their friends and family. For you guys, we did it, for you guys, we’ll always do what we can. Without our sponsors and supporters, we would be nothing, so we send enormous thanks to each and every one of you. You have each helped someone in need & collectively will be making a huge difference to so many. As the reverse of our medals say:
“We can be heroes just for one day – David Bowie”
So, time to pin our medals up, wash our clothes, slip back in to a ‘normal’ routine & look forward to our next challenges… I’m guessing my next big hurdle is labour, but you don’t need to sponsor me for that, haha!!
Thanks once again & for those that forgot/missed our event, there is still time to add a donation to our page!
Ta ta for now!

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St. Michael’s Hospice Moonlight Walk

Confession: I’m becoming an addict.

medals

From essentially being a total couch potato last year (unless lifting crisps or wine to my mouth was exercise…?!) to now, I have developed a bit of an obsession with exercise and, especially event exercise.

It started with getting out of my chair, stepping away (a little bit) from my wine glass & getting some training done.

My first event came in the shape of a race for life & I was determined that I was going to run the whole thing – which I totally did btw, yay me! You can read about that here. The second event took place on Saturday and was a 6mile moonlight walk in aid of raising money for St. Michael’s Hospice.

The route took us – us being my sister and I and a bunch of other people, suitable dressed in pirate wear – from Bexhill, right along the coast, past rows and rows of beach huts, up on to the promenade in St. Leonards, straight along in to Hastings, down to the really, very beautiful old town & circling back up to the White Rock Hotel.

SMH

1. Start Point, Bexhill. 2. Turning Point, Old Town. 3. End, White Rock Hotel. [credit: google maps]

The walk was great. Not too hard, not too fast & not too long. We did get split from the group a bit as a couple were further ahead and lots were far behind, so we did look slightly  very amusing to everyone we passed, dressed in our pirate wear!

I managed to grab this very fuzzy shot of Hastings in the distance - I refused to break my stride to take a better pic!

I managed to grab this very fuzzy shot of Hastings in the distance – I refused to break my stride to take a better pic!

We managed to slam the 6miles down in just 90minutes, score!

There was a little buffet waiting for us at the end point and lots of water, which was very much needed. We got a little medal, which I’ve added to my tiny, but growing collection. Then we walked home*.

*Note to self, don’t walk the half hour home after a 6mile walk.

Next event on my radar is a dirty dozen 6k military obstacle race – this may just finish me off!

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Race for Life – 5K of pink

Had you told me in January that I would be running a 5k race for life in June, I’d have laughed at you and shaken my head. I’m not a runner, I don’t do any distance running…

photo 3 (2)Since maybe March-time, I’ve been attempting to be able to run a 5K race. Up until 2 days before the race, the longest I had ever run for was a 4minute burst, using the race for life training plan.

The Friday before race day, I decided to shove myself out the door, abandoning the interval jogging scheme & just see how long I could run for without stopping. I was hoping to be able to run for 5k, but to be honest, I didn’t really expect to be able to go for longer than the 4 minutes I had achieved previously.

I managed just over 5K, non-stop in 39:42 – not bad, for a non-running tortoise!

On race day (Sunday 15th June), I headed down to the park – we (my sister & I) were running the Hastings race for life, around Alexandra Park – a beautiful place to run, gorgeous rose gardens, lovely trees. We met up with one of my sister’s work-mates & joined the sea of pink to start the run.

Parts of the run were very busy, so there were patches when we had to walk a bit, but as the race progressed, it thinned out a bit, so it was easier to move around and keep going.

I’m not gonna lie, the last km was TOUGH! I was definitely slowing down, but still going  – we went in for a nice sprint finish at the end & scored a time of 35:57! Pretty good for only my second ever 5k run!

At the end of the race, we were given a bottle of water, a medal & a chocolate chip brioche (the last of the two were very quickly adopted by my little lady, who had been waving at me from the sidelines at various race points.

So, would I do it again? Yup. Was it hard? Oh yes. Would I recommend running it? Definitely. Honestly, if I can do it, anyone can (& you get to feel smug for the rest of the day & eat lots of food!).

Fancy dropping us a sponsor for our hard work and helping us to kick cancer’s butt? Well, that would be just amazing, thanks! Our just giving page is here:

http://www.justgiving.com/jolly-joggers750

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