When I first decided that my 2020 challenges would include attempting 50km on an indoor rowing machine, I did not consider the idea of fundraising. I thought that the training, preparation and the actual row itself would be tough enough without having to try and raise money as well.
However, following recent tragic events, I want to hold attempt this challenge in the name of Phoenix Harry Luke Benson; and this is why...
Phoenix was born on 22 October 2019, a son for Luke and Sarah (who is a work colleague and very good friend). Just over five weeks later, on 28 November, Phoenix passed away; a tragedy that is beyond my comprehension, and for which I simply don’t have the words.
Sarah happens to be one of the bravest and most inspiring people I know; she will be doing the 2020 London Marathon as well as participating in countless other long-distance runs to honour her son, and to raise money for the neonatal unit at South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust, who provided the whole family with so much care and support during Phoenix’s short life.
It will be a privilege to dedicate all the training and the final 50km row (which will take place over roughly 5 hours on Tuesday 19 May at Northallerton Leisure Centre) to Phoenix and his wonderful Mum. I have joined "Team Phoenix" and if you would like to make a donation, here is the link:
I don’t really know what else to say. On one level, this will be the longest single piece of exercise I have ever attempted, but I promise I will do everything I can to succeed … for Luke, for Sarah, and for little Phoenix. Thank you so much for your support xx
The reason I chose to hold the event on 19 May was that the date will mark what would have been the 50th birthday of Stuart Cable. Stuart was the original Stereophonics' drummer, but became a member of the Welsh rock band Killing for Company - the first band that Elaine and I “discovered” together. We first saw them in Newcastle in April 2010, but tragically Stuart passed away less than two months’ later...
We never had the chance to meet Stuart, but at various gigs over the subsequent months, we got to know the rest of this special band. Lasting friendships have been made because of Killing for Company; and so on 19 May, I will remember Stuart and say thank you to him and to Greg, Andy, Steve, Richie, Jamie and Aled (below) for the music, the friendship and the memories.