The middle of May is certainly shaping up to be a really exciting time.
On Saturday 14th, I’ll be spending the day at the Cleveland Inn (37 Cleveland Street, Normanby, Middlesbrough, TS6 0LX if you fancy dropping in) throwing darts on behalf of the Jenny Wallwork Foundation and Grangetown Netball Club. During the twelve hours—from 8am to 8pm—a couple of special guests will be popping in, there will be a free buffet, and a sporting raffle/auction. I’m aiming to reach a target of £500 from the day, but whatever is raised will be split evenly between the two organisations. It promises to be a lot of fun (for everyone except me!), and if you want more details of the event, or if you would like to make a small donation, please follow the link:
Then yesterday, I learned that the Netball Europe Open competition would be getting underway on Thursday 12th—in Newcastle upon Tyne...just fifty miles up the road. Whilst the home nations will compete in the main championships (in which I’ll be hoping for a really strong showing from the Scottish Thistles), there is also a challenge tournament featuring two groups of lower-ranked countries; and there, in Group B, are the Republic of Ireland, my “adopted” international netball side!
Even better is the fact that I’m off work on the Friday (even though it’s the 13th) and, at 3pm, Ireland will take to the court to face Grenada. It should be a close encounter with Ireland ranked no.26 in the world, just four places above Grenada and all being well, I will be in the crowd cheering on the girls! Hopefully I’ll also get the chance to catch up with the Ireland captain Níamh Murphy, who I met on a recent trip to Dublin, as well as Jan Hynes and Gen Slater who have both subsequently played for Grangetown in Division 2 of Netball’s national Premier League. In addition, I have spoken to Sacha Shipway and Trish Fanning on the phone (as part of a series of interviews with members of the Netball Ireland squad) and it would be lovely to finally meet them in person….
And if that wasn’t enough, the following Wednesday (aches and pains permitting), I’ll be heading back up to Newcastle to take to the stage at The Stand Comedy Club’s “Red Raw” evening. Now I fully appreciate that my dart throwing is likely to be considerably funnier than the five-minute stand-up routine that I shall attempt to deliver on the night, but my first experience of the club, the atmosphere and being amongst “proper” performers was fantastic and hopefully things will again go as well as my limited ability will allow.
Realistically, none of the above would be possible, had I not decided—back in January 2014—to commence a series of challenges with the underlying aim of raising awareness of mental health issues. I’ve been lucky enough to have had some memorable experiences and met some wonderful people over the past two-and-a-bit years, but at no point have I ever forgotten the reason why I started all this: the simple message that it’s fine to ask for help. It’s a big step… and an incredibly hard step; but it could just be the first step that ultimately leads to a better place.
Roll on May…!