Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Influence & Inspiration

To make my world bigger is something I’ve been working on for a few years now, as things have got harder for me physically I seemed to have opened up more doors and gone further than I ever thought possible. This month we won a competition with the Discovery Channel just by telling people my plans for 2016 (and a lot of asking for votes!).

You may ask where I get my sense of adventure from, my direction, and the desire to push myself and learn along the way. I’d said it was definitely from my dad, a man influenced by The Goons and Monty Python. Add in a passion for travel and educating and in some distorted way that moulded me. The comedy element is an important factor because as children that’s how I, my brothers and sister learnt, obviously not orthodox but fantastic nonetheless, I’ll explain…

Our mum used to work as a waitress at the local Berni Inn and our dad used to drop Mum at work for her night shift, drive round the corner and then ask “Who wants to play the ‘Where are we’ game?” We would all shout back “YES!” and then we would either jump in the boot of our car or the back of Dad’s work van. Eyes closed, we would either be driven a few streets or perhaps miles and we would take turns at guessing where the vehicle had stopped, mostly in high-pitched voices à la Harry Secombe or Peter Sellers. Our parents also took advantage of sunny Sundays, and the ‘spare’ fiver or tenner for fuel would take us miles. Dad’s excursions, inclusive of a history lesson, were like his comedy influences, you never knew where you would be taken and the facts would be a bit leftfield.

An example would be a visit to Warwick Castle, we couldn’t afford admission so we’d go as far as the portcullis, and we wouldn’t be told that what we saw before us was built by William the Conqueror in 1068, no, it would be a petrifying story about the holes in the roof above and that hot oil and wax was poured on potential intruders. Sometimes we’d go to the coast on that thin fuel allowance, stop at Lulworth Cove and Dad would say “If you ever need to know about coastal erosion then look up this place; read a book”. Then, we’d get in the car and drive home again. The seed of curiosity was planted and I went on to get an ‘A’ in GCSE Geography, using Lulworth and coastal erosion as my subject matter.

So this then leads me on to talk about my most recent mile, and my next. I wrote about the facts of Iffley Road in my last blog, yet I had no idea how much of a challenge it was going to be. As soon as I stepped out onto the track I had a huge psychological battle which I managed to overcome and win, I couldn’t believe I did it.

What of the Oval then? I can tell you this; it hosted the very first FA Cup Final between the Wanderers and the Royal Engineers in 1872. Morton Betts scored the only goal of the game on 15 minutes and the Wanderers won! A distinctive feature of this ground is its neighbouring Victorian gasometer; built in the 1800s it now has a listed status. Just like my father, I do not feel it necessary to state the obvious, that it is most definitely one of the most famous cricket grounds in the world; read a book.

Saturday is my third mile of the year and like last month’s mile, when I was joined by the fantastic Tommy Lloyd, I will be once again joined by a young man who has also been pushing himself for others.

Archie Hill was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in 2008 at just 3 years old. Duchenne is a severe degenerative muscle-wasting disease, which will unfortunately lead to paralysis and will significantly shorten his life. Selflessly, Archie and his family have asked to ‘Move a Mile For Muscles’ with me to raise much-needed awareness and funds. Archie has put himself up to help others more than once. Alongside other boys with Duchenne, Archie and the group took their fight for Translarna (the first treatment approved for the underlying cause of DMD,) to the very top and knocked on 10 Downing Street asking for answers on access to rare disease drugs.

Archie at No 10


Just like Tommy, I consider Archie to be courageous and he should be an inspiration to many at such a young age. So I can most certainly say that I will complete Saturday’s mile whatever it takes, and hopefully won’t get beat up by myself like I did at Iffley Road.

Archie is moving a mile for muscles and if he can, WE can too!

Thanks for the sense of adventure Dad and for making my world bigger.

“Always look on the bright side of life” x

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