On 23rd June, the challenge is to visit a football ground in Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales… in one day. The timetable is starting to take shape, and the day will start in Belfast, very early on the morning as I will have to go to The Oval, home of Glentoran FC before catching the ferry (now booked!) over to Cairnryan (latest time to embark is 6:30am).
The crossing takes over two hours, but from Cairnryan, it’s only a few minutes to Stranraer FC’s Stair Park. The next leg of the journey is over four hours, but I’m hoping it will just be a case of pointing the car south and enjoying a leisurely trundle down to the DW Stadium in Wigan where, with a bit of luck, I might be able to catch up with Steve McCormack, the Scotland rugby league coach, who also works for Wigan Warriors who share the stadium with the football club.
The last leg of the journey (from the challenge point of view) is down to Wrexham. No chance of getting inside the Racecourse Ground sadly, as work will be underway for the following evening’s Olly Murs concert—although I’m hopeful that my arrival will be greeted by a crowd of screaming fans....
As opposed to some burly security guard.
The absolute final leg is actually the trek back home from North Wales. The total distance is something in the region of 620 miles. Elaine has agreed to come along and navigate (meaning the distance will now be in excess of 700 miles), but the “rules” are that I must do all the driving.
I’m hoping that one or two local radio stations might be interested enough to want to talk to me either before or on the day—I’ll certainly be doing everything possible to maintain the profile of the cause throughout the trip. The prospect is quite daunting, but exciting at the same time.
Before then however (on 8th May), there is the small matter of recording a song….
This was always going to be one of the harder tasks to arrange, but things are starting to come together thanks to Lee Tuck from The Garage Studios in South Shields.
I first met Lee about six years ago, when he was playing bass for The Karma Heart, an excellent band who I saw play live on a number of occasions. I contacted him pretty much out of the blue to ask if he happened to know anyone involved with a recording studio who might just be willing to help—quality research on my part.
Lee and I are due to meet towards the end of the month to chat things through; my first question will be whether the technology is good enough to do something with my voice!
What I can tell you is that the song in question is “Set the Fire to the Third Bar” by Snow Patrol. If you know the song, you’ll have realised it’s a male-female duet… the song choice was actually the idea of a young lady who is both a colleague at work and my future singing partner. If anyone from work is reading this, I wonder if they can work out who it is?!
Sadly, the crystal clear note-perfect treble voice I possessed as a twelve year-old is nothing more than a dim and distant memory, but I will practice hard, and try my absolute best to do a good job on the day. As with the “road trip”, the prospect is exciting, but I’m more nervous about the recording because at least I know I’m a decent driver!
For Lee to get involved is a huge deal; and I’m extremely grateful. I really believe that this challenge will make a real difference in helping me to continue raising mental health awareness, but probably less likely to result in a world tour!