Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: charity

Why I’m running the Quadzilla

My mother in law passed away almost a year ago having fought ovarian cancer for 4 years and this challenge is for her. By coincidence I started running regularly just under 4 years ago in an effort to lose some weight and get fit after having serious back problems from sitting in an office all day. I can remember her concern every time she came to visit me that ‘I was getting too thin’ and that I needed to be careful, she never did quite understand why I ran but that didn’t stop her coming along to races and cheering me on. It is for her that I’m taking on this challenge, the Quadzilla, 4 marathons on 4 consecutive days. In the space of 4 days I’m going to double the amount of marathons I’ve done and find out what it’s like to run a marathon with the DOMS from 3 marathons. I’m also hoping to try and raise some money for 2 great causes.

Maureen was an amazing woman, mother, daughter, wife and nanna whose passing has left a very big hole in the lives of her family and friends. In the last few weeks and months when things got tough the support her and Nick received from her Macmillan nurse made such a difference. Care that the NHS simply can’t provide but that helps people in the darkest times navigate their way through and help them make decisions. That’s why I’ve chosen to support Macmillan with this challenge and hopefully raise some money in Maureen’s memory to help other people in the same situation.

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Burger off Cancer

Marinading the chickenSometimes as a blogger opportunities arise that you just can’t say no to and last week I attended an event that was just one of those opportunities. The chance to help launch a new campaign with Cancer Research UK AND go to the Weber BBQ school was definitely worth taking time off work for.

I thought I was half decent at cooking on a barbeque but having been to the Weber school I realise how little I really knew, honestly it was eye opening learning some of the tips and techniques. But I’m going to tease you a little and leave those for a post of their own, for now I’d like to spend a bit of time talking about the campaign.

Here’s how the campaign works, are you ready for this? It’s very complicated. What you do is have a BBQ, invite a bunch of people around and ask them to make a donation. That’s it. It’s not exactly a hard sell to guests is it? Which I think is the beauty of the idea, simple to raise money and gets people together to have a good time.

CRUK_Battle of the BBQ_RT

Cancer Research UK are hoping you’ll all think this is a good idea and will join them in hosting BBQ’s on the weekend of the 19th and 20th of July for their big BBQ weekend. If you’re interested you can register to get your own fund raising pack by clicking here, you can also buy from the same link a party pack of paper plates and napkins with the awesome tag lines “burger off cancer” and “give cancer a grilling”. Mighty fine tag lines I’m sure you’ll agree, or maybe they just appeal to my dad humour?

Burger off cancerAs I drove home from the event I started to plan our BBQ and I realised that the 19th of July is when my ‘little’ race is so having a party the next day will be the ideal way to celebrate and try and forget how much my legs are aching. I’m also hoping I’ll have my pizza oven ready by then so I can fire that up for some amazing pizzas, fingers crossed! Although not entirely sure how long I’m going to want to be standing up for, can you BBQ sat down?

So what are you waiting for? Get planning your party and join in with the big BBQ weekend.

Also if you’d like a shiny new Weber BBQ for your party then Cancer Research UK are running a competition called will it grill. Simply shoot a short video of you grilling something unusual and upload to Instagram or Vine with the hashtag #willitgrill to enter. The video with the most votes before the closing date will win a shiny new BBQ. You can find full competition details here.

Look out for my next post about the BBQ school which will include some awesome tips and tricks plus some delicious recipes. Happy grilling.

Cancer Research asked me to write about this campaign to raise awareness and they invited me along to the Weber BBQ school to learn about it. 

Fool on the run – Save the Children

As you all now know I’m taking on the challenge of running 100km in July, which if you say it quickly doesn’t sound too bad. But I’m doing it to raise money for 2 great causes and knowing that I hope will get me through what is inevitably going to involve some very tough moments. I considered many charities before deciding on these 2, there are so many worthy charities doing great work but I kept coming back to 2 that truly meant something to me personally.

Today I’d like to introduce the first of those causes which is Save the Children. A charity which I’m sure many of you know already but one I chose for 2 reasons; first they do work in both the UK and 120 other countries in Africa, South America, the Middle East and Asia; secondly a specific campaign – change the story.

Change the story is all about giving the UK’s poorest children the chance to have a good education. It’s about stopping the cycle of the poorest children in the UK leaving primary school without basic reading and writing skills. Stopping the scandal of those children not being given the tools needed to change their lives for the better.

I see the joy that Matilda and Henry already gets from books, the excitement on their faces when they sits with their favourite stories. Last night I watched Matilda sit in the bath and tell Henry the full story of Room on the Broom that she’d learnt at preschool. How amazing is that? Yet we take for granted having access to quality education like this while children potentially less than 50 miles from here don’t have that. We have a house full of books that we read with them and they read themselves everyday, but that isn’t the reality for many children.

To try to combat this issue Save the Children is recruiting 20,000 change makers to lead their Born to Read programme. A programme that will see them read with disadvantaged children and try to avoid children falling behind by the time they are only 7. If you’re interested in getting involved you can register to support this campaign here. Please also take a moment to watch this short video, I challenge any parent to watch this and not want to find a way to make a difference to these children’s lives.

Save the Children of course does many other great things, this is just one campaign of many but one that I’m truly passionate about. I’ve volunteered already as a change maker and when running this race will use the thought of Matilda and Henry and all the children like them reading to get me through tough moments.

Now it’s your turn, why not also volunteer to make a change or you can make a donation to support my race here and help Save the Children. These are children’s lives that we can make a difference to and they are right here in the UK.

Thanks for reading.

Fool on the run

Announcing – fool on the run

This post is a big deal for me, something I’ve been planning for a while and finally can share with you. Please, please, please read it, it means a lot to me and no it’s not an April fool but I did think it was an apt day to be publishing it!

Regular readers may have noticed a certain tone in some my posts over the past few months, where I’ve been trying to reconcile some of the things going on in my life and the choices we make when it comes to work and family. Through all of it there has been this feeling building that I need to do something good and give back a little. Our life might not be perfect but it is safe and secure, we have a good education system (even with Gove) and access to free health care. So if I can sacrifice a little to help those less fortunate, then it’s something I should be willing to do.

I have to run how far?!

I have to run how far?!

But choosing both the cause and challenge is something I’ve been struggling with. I don’t really get involved in charity activities, there are so many good causes but I needed to find something to connect to if I’m going to do more than just give the occasional donation here and  there.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot over the past few months, taking time to read about the work charities do and find the ones that I can relate to. I want to support a cause that I can personally relate to because only then I think I can take on a big challenge with the motivation and passion needed.

Which leads me onto my big announcement; this fool is going to be really testing out his running legs and taking on a huge challenge. On July 19th I shall be running (and most likely a little walking) the Race to the Stones, 100km or 62 miles along the Ridgeway non stop. The race starts in Chinnor, Oxfordshire and finishes at the beautiful Avebury stone circle which is conveniently just a few miles from here. It follows the ancient path of the Ridgeway, a path that people have used for 1000’s of years and crosses some truly stunning countryside.

This is going to be a massive challenge there is no doubt of that but I’ve chosen to do it to support 2 charities that are very important to me personally and they are Tommy’s and Save the Children. With my goal being to raise £1,000 to to be split equally between the 2 causes. I’ll be telling you more in posts to come about why I’ve chosen to support these 2 charities and what they mean to me. I’ll also be writing about the training for it over on my running blog Lycra and Lunchboxes if you’re interested in hearing how that’s going.

For now I’ll leave you with a short video about the race, thanks for reading and I hope you’ll support me with your donations, your messages and maybe even cheering me on during the race! If you happen to want to give a donation already you can do so here.

Carphone Warehouse Race to the Stones from Threshold Sports on Vimeo.

 

The one where I consider the meaning of life

I’ve been feeling quite emotional recently, not entirely sure why, money worries don’t help but there has been more than one occasion when I’ve suddenly got a speck of dirt in my eye. Maybe it’s the seemingly never ending news stories of abuse, murder or some other atrocity? Or watching an episode or DIY SOS and realising that for many people out there life really does suck. People who are just about surviving until that amazing program comes along and literally changes their lives.

Then there is the parent blogging community where there have been a number of heartbreaking stories this year, stories that make you go home and hug your family close never wanting to let them out of you sight so they can’t come to harm. It may be selfish but on more than one occasion I’ve had to stop reading a blog completely just for my own preservation. Sometimes those stories are just too raw or close to home and it’s hard to read those things regularly (Anecdotes of a manic mum in particular breaks my heart every time)

There are of course some personal reasons too for feeling this way, things that make life not so nice, but those aren’t my stories to tell.

So what’s the point in this? Beyond the therapeutic benefits of writing it’s also got me thinking. Like anyone not everything is rosy in my life, we may have to use a credit card to buy food occasionally but we have a nice house, happy children and generally enjoy our life. But our issues are small compared to some people, something you have remind yourself of sometimes. However do I really do anything to truly help others? I give money to a few charities every so often and have done some volunteering with work renovating a local preschool. Small things but not really impactful.

Like many I’ve had a few approaches through this blog to get involved with a charity. But so far I’ve done very little, the charities are generally the bigger ones and relate to problems in the third world. Really important issues but something I find hard to connect with so many thousands of miles away.

If I’m going to do something that has a bigger impact it has to be a cause I’m passionate about. Something where I can feel like I’m making a difference and maybe even see that difference happening? I think I need to spend some time choosing a cause to support and then stick with it for the long term. Maybe something connected to babies like Tommy’s? Or that helps children get active and in the outdoors?

Once chosen I can then figure out how I can help; I love running and taking on challenges so maybe some classic fundraising and a big challenge for 2014? There is of course the blogging and social media skills I now have that could be of use to a smaller charity in particular. Or simply finding somewhere to volunteer my time.

I know many of you are involved with charities so would love to know why you have chosen to support a particular cause and also how you help them.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

The gallery – inspirational people

I haven’t joined in with gallery for a few weeks due to our trip to New Zealand (have I mentioned that I went to New Zealand? No? Check it out here) and to begin with was struggling with the prompt a little. Not because I couldn’t think of any inspirational people, but because I wasn’t able to photograph them. Not so easy to get a photo of old school teachers who were passionate about their subject or Jamie Oliver who gives his own time and money to campaign for better food for our children or Dean Karnazes a man who pushes the limit of human endurance far beyond what anyone could imagine or the late Jane Tomlinson who raised £1.85m for charity by completing some incredible challenges despite being treated for cancer.

But then it occurred to me that there were inspirational people much closed to home; 4 generations of a family who came together with friends and strangers to say a big fat screw you to cancer. A group of women who all know someone who has cancer, who want to make a difference one small step at a time. It may not be the toughest challenge in the world but seeing this many women in one place all decked out in pink is a clear statement. We will beat this horrible, disgusting, vile disease and we’ll beat it together. They raised over a £1000 between them, a not insignificant sum and one repeated up and down the country.

I lost my nan to breast cancer a few years ago, my mother in law has just finished treatment for ovarian cancer, no doubt all of you know someone who has had or has cancer. Seeing the camaraderie shared by these women and their  motivation to get up on a Sunday morning to raise some money to help win the fight against cancer was inspirational. It inspired me to stop thinking and talking about doing a challenge and to get out there and actually do one. So watch this space, the cogs are whirring into action and big things are going to happen in 2012.

Race for Life ladies