Thanks for taking the time to read why I am embarking on this challenge to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support, in the name of 'Daddy Coole', my beloved Dad.
This year marks the seventh anniversary since Dad's passing, and my life has not been the same without him. Ever since he passed I intended on raising money for Macmillan but life took over, as it often does, to the point where I didn't grieve properly for the man who was my inspiration, my rock and on reflection, my purpose. I say my purpose because my biggest thrill was making him proud, so when he left I gradually lost my way, my sense of purpose and my confidence. In 2016 I was diagnosed with depression, and since then, with unbelievable support from my family, my friends, NUS and SU colleagues and with the help of different professionals, things have started to make sense and there is a clear trail of events that lead all the way back to when Dad passed.
One of the things that has helped me to manage my illness is walking and ensuring I am getting regular exercise, which is where the first part of the challenge comes in. After a recent counselling session and conversations at work, I started to consider what I might do to fulfil my pledge to raise money for Macmillan so I thought about my best memories of Dad, and our regular holidays to Cornwall came to mind. We went to Newlyn 7 years running to my great aunt Hilda's guest house where we would go fishing on the harbour, play pitch and putt and play football on the beach, not to mention the amount of ten pence pieces we would lose in the arcades at Penzance and Portreath.
So at this point in deciding what I was going to do I had Cornwall and walking... I then looked into how long it would take me to walk to Lands End from my home in Bristol, and if I walked around 30 miles a day I worked out that I could do it in 7 days, making sure that I popped in to Portreath on the way.
A new theme started to develop, the number 7... It's 7 years since Dad passed, we went on the same holiday to Cornwall 7 years running, it would take me 7 days to walk to Lands End, and what's my lucky number? Yep you got it. The time feels right to do this challenge, to show my appreciation for the amazing support the Macmillan nurses gave to my Dad, and how they managed to make him smile when it felt like that there was very little to smile about, he always had a good sense of humour and I remember one of the nurses asking him one day if he would feel more comfortable in a care home with professional support, or at home with his family. Dad was struggling to speak at this stage but he did manage to get a response out to this question - "pub"!
Dad spent his life giving to other people, and would never expect anything in return. He was instrumental in helping the local Cricket club survive, it is now thriving with the rebuilding of the clubhouse one of Dad's proudest moments. The club totally reformed and has enabled more young people (and adults) to get involved with a key part of Woodley's community. Dad's final resting place is now at the club under a tree with the perfect pitch side view.
I will be doing this walk alone, but with Dad no doubt by my side, so I feel that this will be a joint effort where he and I can do something together that will ultimately make a big difference to people who may well have lost all sense of hope and happiness, a place my Dad was in until the wonderful Macmillan nurses helped us all to lift his spirits and make the most of those final precious weeks and days together.
There was a period where we thought we would never see Dad smile again, and catch that devilish twinkle in his eye, but Macmillan managed to help us to achieve that and make sure we built some final and lasting memories that will stay with us forever, so any contribution you can make would mean the world not just to me and Dad, but to a family or an individual somewhere who is facing their battle with cancer alone.
Fundraising is hugely important to Macmillan. Without people doing events, running marathons, climbing mountains, and donating in all the other ways that you can, Macmillan wouldn’t exist. Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving - they'll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they'll send your money directly to the charity. So it's the most efficient way to donate - saving time and cutting costs.
I will be writing up and keeping a picture diary of the trek, and I will do my best to keep a progress report going on social media. So far the plan is as follows:
21st September - Bristol to Bridgwater
22nd September - Bridgwater to Tiverton
23rd September - Tiverton to Okehampton
24th September - Okehampton to Launceston
25th September - Launceston to St Austell
26th September - St Austell to Portreath
27th September - Portreath to Lands End
28th September (Happy Birthday to my wonderful sister Natasha) - Train back from Penzance to Bristol.
I will be covering all of my own costs throughout this challenge so any donations you make will go straight to the charity.
Thank you so much for reading, and for any moral and/or financial support you can give!