The first was to arrange a face-to-face interview with an international athlete, and by default that was accomplished (several times over) last Friday when I spent the day with members of the Ireland squad taking part in the Netball Europe Open championships in Newcastle. As well as being able to talk with Joan Young and Mo Crilly (coach and manager respectively), I had lengthy conversations with Níamh Murphy, Tania Rosser, Gen Slater and Ali Higginbotham… as well as a first for me, a “face-to-back” chat with Kirsty Owens during her pre-match physio session.
The aim of the day was (and still is... I haven’t made much progress yet) to compile an in-depth feature about an international game day and being allowed behind the scenes with such a great group of girls was fantastic—I’m so grateful to everyone involved with Netball Ireland who made the day possible and made me feel so welcome; now I just have to make sure the article does justice to their skill and remarkable dedication.
The following morning, I stepped up to the oche at the Cleveland Inn for my 12 hour solo darts marathon on behalf of the Jenny Wallwork Foundation and Grangetown Netball Club. It was quite a tough day, especially given the condition of my hips, but to be honest if it was going to be easy there wouldn’t have been much point doing it.
I’m not a “natural” fundraiser—and after the first four hours I wasn’t much of a dart player either—but with a bit of money still to be received, I will definitely reach my target of £500… and that makes all the aches, pains and one whopping blister on my big toe worthwhile.
Again I couldn’t have arranged or completed the event without a massive amount of help (venue, raffle prizes, support on the day—including the BDO World no.1, Glen Durrant, and my local MP, Anna Turley— donations etc), but I do want to say a special thank you Diane at the Cleveland/Cobbler’s Champagne Bar who was around for the whole twelve hours and made sure I had everything I needed. Well almost… she couldn’t supply me with new hips, but she did manage to make sure we stayed put when the brewery wanted the pub evacuated following an early morning gas alarm!
The third leg of this veritable challenge-fest was my stand-up farewell at The Stand Comedy Club back in Newcastle last night. This third attempt was only planned because my second (in Middlesbrough last year) hadn’t gone as well as I’d hoped… unfinished business and all that.
My slot was at 8.54 (all very regimented…), towards the end of the first half and despite my nerves, I have to say that the self-deprecating intro and selection of what I hoped were humorous one-liners went down better than I could have ever possibly imagined. Nothing fell flat, and one “joke” (obviously in the loosest sense of the word) got applause… actual real applause!!!
I will share it with you, but only on the understanding that the written version doesn’t reflect the sublime quality of verbal delivery (nor my ability to lie)… anyway, here goes: “Some Native Americans are still relying on smoke signals to communicate after giving up on mobile phones because they could only get apache reception….”
© Richard Kirby (Comedy Gold) 2016
After I’d come off stage, one of the other acts actually asked why I was packing in, and several members of the hundred-plus audience came over to say they’d really enjoyed my “performance” (term used as per “joke” above)—one even said I was “mint”… never been called that before. It was an amazing few minutes, made all the more special because my wonderful wife Elaine was there to see it. I love you darling—and I promise that I have definitely retired!
This blog ends on a fairly abrupt serious note, with a link to an article I wrote back in March. If you want to really understand why I’m doing these challenges… why mental health awareness is so important; then all you have to do is click this button….