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Hannah Francis crept into my peripheral vision through social media. She fast became someone who's posts I used to look for - why? Because she was a horse mad girl who lived for her horses and Eventing and who, tragically, at the age of 17 was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer. She met that challenge with such amazing grace, determination and selflessness that she totally inspired me. She struck me as someone who had always lived life to the full but her diagnosis put that drive on steroids. What she managed to achieve in one year was incredible, not least leaving her legacy of Wilberry the Wonder Pony Charity, set up to support research into bone cancer and help others facing difficult situations fulfil some of their bucket list wishes.
The run up to the Wobbleberry Challenge bizarrely passed me by. That said, where there's a will an' all that. So here I am as a Late Entry, facing what is one of the biggest physical and mental challenges that I have ever undertaken. I'm planning on completing a BE80 event by September next year - one year from now. What IS that and why is it such a big deal I hear you cry?
Okay, let's start with why? I'm a middle-aged, wimpy rider who is more than happy to keep all four of my horses feet no more than a couple of inches off the ground in normal everyday circumstances. However, I've always had a well kept secret of a bucket list wish of doing a little one day event.
Which brings us nicely to the what IS that? For the uninitiated among you this means being able to complete a dressage test (think Charlotte Dujardin - actually don't, you'll be disappointed!), a round of show jumps (think Nick Skelton; nah, don't do that, he broke his neck doing that very thing!) and then hurling yourself over solid fences whilst travelling at speed (think William Fox-Pitt; actually, bad example, he had a nasty fall last year and almost retired!).
Ah, yes, then there's fitness. You need to be physically fit for this game which means doing stuff I absolutely detest - even the THOUGHT of having to go to a gym raises the hackles!!! So any suggestions on how to get fit without joining a gym (and please don't suggest running as I HATE it!) will be gratefully received. Oh, the other thing to say is that the getting fit bit can't take too much time because I'm not only planning on doing this once, I'm doing it twice because (a) I didn't want either Boo or Oscar to feel left out and (b) a conversation I had with the leader of the Red Arrows sprang to mind.
Red 1: (laughing) Do you think you'd like to go up with the lads?
Me: Hell yeah, but I'd have to do it twice though.
Red 1: (puzzled) Why twice?
Me: Once to make sure I could keep my stomach where it should be, the second time to enjoy it!
So, what could possibly go wrong?!?!? Well nothing actually, because all us Wobbleberries have an amazing team of people helping, encouraging and generally being an incredible support network to help us meet this challenge. I also have my A team backing me - so a huge thanks to all of you guys :D
I know you all get frequent requests for sponsorship but please, if you have any spare cash, no matter how much (or little), then please sponsor me. Not only will it help a fantastic charity, it will keep the memory of an amazing young lady alive and give me the impetus to actually go through with this fantastic opportunity.
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 for the charity.