Saturday 22 September will mark the end (for the foreseeable future at least) of the series of “challenges” that has dominated so much of the past five years. Since the start of 2014, I have completed in the region of 120 tasks with the aim of trying to raise mental health awareness; to show that it is fine to talk openly about mental health and to ask for help if you are struggling.
So much has happened since a Tweet from former Spice Girl Melanie Chisholm got the proverbial ball rolling; and much as I’ve met some wonderfully generous and inspiring people, shared some great experiences and hopefully (but most importantly) made a small difference along the way, the time has come to take a significant step back.
The planning and preparation for so many varied tasks took a lot of time and energy (and over 8,000 miles on the road), but it was probably the work involved in writing my book that tipped the emotional balance. I fully accept that no one forced me to tell my story but the possibility (however remote) of helping someone absolutely justifies the decision to share my experiences in so much detail.
That said the process of recalling long-suppressed memories and committing them to paper (and the editing that follows) is tough … almost brutal at times. It’s nobody’s fault, and I suppose everyone will react differently … I just feel drained; and very much in need of a chance to deal with how I’m feeling and regather my strength. Luckily I have Elaine (and our new puppy Ruby) and I know everything will be fine; it will just take a bit of time.
All of which brings me to 22 September.
Two of the 2014 challenges were to play darts and netball – since then, those involved have enjoyed amazing success. Glen Durrant has gone from being ranked no.7 in the BDO to a two-time world champion; and Grangetown have been promoted (twice) into the top-flight of English club netball … making them one of the top ten clubs in the whole country.
Obviously, I am not claiming the credit for their achievements (well not all of it), but Glen and everyone involved with Grangetown Netball Club have been so supportive; and this final event recognises their help … and friendship.
On 22 September, at 8am, I will be at the Cleveland Inn (on Cleveland Street in Normanby) with my trusty 29g darts, aiming to hit 300 scores of 100 or more in less than 12 hours. To put it into context, it is effectively a three-figure score every seventh visit to the oche – not too difficult for a decent player…
Grangetown Netball Club open their Prem 1 season the following day, but members of the squad will be popping in on the Saturday … and you are welcome to come along too. I’d certainly appreciate a little bit of company. As far the event is concerned, I’m hoping to achieve four goals…
1) Reach the target of 300 scores of 100 or more
2) Raise £300 for the Grangetown senior squad, who are flying the local flag for national elite women’s sport
3) Highlight the messages that it is fine to talk openly about mental health and to never be afraid to ask for help
4) Still be able to walk at the end of the day … I’m reporting on the game on the Sunday and the ability to move would be a real bonus
If family, friends or anyone within the local or netball communities would like to help me towards no.2, I would be so grateful. I have set up a Crowdfunding page - https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/richard-kirby-3 - but it’s fine to donate in person (to me, or any of the Grangetown coaches). I’ll also be doing a “blind card” with the first prize being a Loughborough Lightning netball signed by the club’s Ugandan star shooter Peace Proscovia. It is a great prize and a very kind gesture from Loughborough (who are now officially my favourite Super League team!).
And that’s just about it really. If Ruby lets me, I’ll get in a bit of practice before the day, and hopefully with your support, the event will be a success. Here’s to a great season for Grangetown. Thanks for everything x