As my turkey and chocolate stuffed body started to disappear into the icy waters of the North Sea earlier today, so my yearlong series of challenges on behalf of the mental health charity Mind came to an end.
Some were relatively easy, some were fun (one or two definitely weren’t), others genuinely tested me, but more important than proving something to myself – or anyone else for that matter – were my joint aims of raising awareness of mental health, and raising funds for Mind.
I really hope I achieved the former. I’ve had some lovely feedback from the charity, but ultimately awareness is intangible – and subjective. As for the latter, well I wanted to raise £1,000 and to say I was thrilled to reach that milestone would be a huge understatement. So many people were so kind – and generous. My sincere thanks hardly seems enough, but the support has been genuinely humbling and has made this whole [insert any word except journey] worthwhile.
I’ve also had a remarkable amount of help and support to turn what was effectively a list of ideas into a series of realities. There are too many people (and one Golden Eagle) to name here, but so much of what I’ve done has only been possible because others were willing to invest their own time and effort, often to help someone they didn’t even know.
Again, thank you.
In the cold light of a cold winter’s day, three challenges were replaced along the way when it became apparent that however hard I tried, or however much support I was given, success was going to prove elusive. That said two of the replacement tasks were to get a new job (after notice of redundancy was given last January), and to perform a stand-up comedy routine in front of a live audience – hardly the “easy way out”!
I won’t deny that I am proud of what I’ve been able to do – especially given my lifelong half-empty glass – but having a wonderful wife who loves me, and believes in me more than I believe in myself has made a massive difference. Elaine has been there pretty much every step of the way… including an eight hour round trip for a fifteen minute meeting with five medallists from London 2012. Dedication above and beyond I would say…
If I had to single out just one moment from the past twelve months, it would be the end of that stand-up routine. My mouth was dry, my nerves were shredded, but as I walked off stage, I saw Elaine (because of the lighting, I couldn’t see her from the centre of the stage) and she just looked so happy. The whole year was encapsulated into that split second; I’d made Elaine proud… and it was a wonderful feeling.
Thank you darling. I love you.
Favourite challenges? The stand-up was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and that has to be top of the list. Next would be the netball. The spirit says I can still play my favourite sports… the body says “try and you’ll not be able to walk for the next couple of days”, but during my first and last appearance on a netball court I got the briefest rush of adrenaline that you can only get from sporting competition. It only lasted a few moments, but chances are I won’t get that feeling again and that’s why this meant such a lot. Third place is a tie between the darts and the boxing. The former to prove I had the bottle to take on my fear of failure; the latter to show a very small amount of a different kind of courage. Both great experiences, but there’s only one I’d be willing to repeat!!!