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In 2015, 44 licensing industry executives from the UK, Netherlands and USA cycled 315 miles from London to Utrecht raising a record breaking £70,000 for The light Fund plus Euros 27,500 for Wilhelmina Children's Hospital in Utrecht. I was part of that achievement and many of you very kindly sponsored me at that time.
In 2018, The light Fund will host it's most ambitious fundraiser to date aiming to raise between £150,000 and £200,000. From 12th to 15th June, 75 licensing executives from the UK, EMEA and North America will cycle approximately 520KM or 325 miles from Bristol to Dublin through the stunning scenery of the Brecon Beacons and the Wicklow Mountains. The sting in the tail is the elevation and some 17,500 ft of climbing over the 4 days.
I was to be have been one of the 70 cycling, however, due to a rather nasty condition called Acute Prostatitis, I can no longer physically ride - or perhaps more accurately I am no longer able to sit on anything hard and narrow! Instead, I will now accompany the other riders in a support capacity as well as being the official photographer and event blogger.
Not to be in any way out done, I am also now setting myself a different physical and mental challenge that will involve a series of rather unusual open water swims culminating in an Arctic wilderness adventure dog-sledding.
All funds raised will be ring-fenced for Alzheimer's Society courtesy of The Light Fund. The Light Fund is an umbrella charity and is an acronym for The Licensing Industry Giving Help Together. It was set up in 2004 and I am a former Trustee.To date The Light Fund has raised over £1.4 million. It is an official Registered Charity No.1145596. http://www.lightfund.org
My father has Alzheimer's and it is a huge and sobering paradigm shift to see the mind of this once brilliant GP and Commonwealth Games Swim Coach degenerate in this brutal manner. Those around him are also effected in so many negative ways and especially so for my stoical and long suffering mother.
My "bucket list" series of challenges are as follows :-
1) Great North Swim (Lake Windermere 10K) - 8th June 2018
Successfully completed in 2:51:28
2) Henley Classic (River Thames 2.1K) - 1st July 2018
Successfully completed in 0:35:53
3) Bournemouth to Boscombe Pier (1.5 Miles) - 15th July 2018
Successfully completed in 0:31:08
4) Chill Swim (Coniston Water 5.25 Miles) - 1st September 2018
Successfully completed in 2:26:50
5) Barbados Swim Festival (Carlisle Bay 10K) - 11th November 2018
Successfully completed in 3:07:05
6) Arctic Wilderness Challenge (Sweden 165K) - 25th to 29th January 2019
Successfully completed 100km on dog sleigh 28th January 2019.
This was undoubtedly a once in a lifetime adventure through the pristine landscape of Swedish Lapland in the Arctic Circle. In essence an action-packed charity challenge in what is often described as ‘Europe’s Last Wilderness’. It was a mix of survival techniques and learning how to live like the Saami people dog sledding. We traversed an exciting mixture of trails from tundra lowlands to high mountain areas and discovered an area of incredible natural beauty with dense forests and frozen lakes. Each night was spent in wilderness base camps with no electricity and although we kept our eyes peeled, the infamous Northern Lights alluded us due to weather conditions. This Arctic Wilderness charity challenge was a real test of endurance, where we were in charge of food, digs and feeding our dogs. The challenge was rustically basic with self-sufficient lodgings, unpredictable weather conditions as well as looking after our team of dogs throughout. On the lakes we reached -34.3C or -45.0C with windchill – everything was frozen and/or froze instantly on exposure or contact. Simply incredible – like being in a freezer for 5 days and living proof that Narnia is real, alive and very very well indeed. If heaven exists, this is what it must look like!
7) Swim the Arctic Circle (Finland 3K) - 13th July 2019 https://swimac.eu/en/
Note : This challenge is now deferred to 2020 as the date clashes with the English Channel Relay Swim attempt below where we have no choice of date window.
8) English Channel Relay Swim (21 Miles) - 10th to 16th July 2019 http://cspf.co.uk/pilot-mike-oram
Over these various events I will experience just about everything open water swimming can throw at you including a 4.30am Summer Solstice dawn start in the Thames for the Henley Classic, a midnight sun swim in the Arctic, a 2.00am "dark" start for the Channel, water temperatures of 10C to 28C and air temperatures ranging from -40C in the Arctic to + 30C in Barbados.
Previous swims of this type have seen me stung by jellyfish, poisoned by a Weaver Fish, debilitated by leptospirosis (Weil's Disease) and left with early stage hypothermia.........all character building stuff. Oh.....and I have a terrible phobia of fish and an irrational fear of not being able to see the bottom! In short - open water swimming scares the living daylights out of me.
As for the Arctic - who knows as this is new ground where I learn to very quickly become a musher. One thing for sure though - it will not be in any way luxury living as we will be emulating the Saami lifestyle throughout, cooking on open fires and sleeping in igloos. A full medical is required in advance of the trip and apart from the very real risks of sunburn and frostbite, Tetanus, Hepatitis A and Rabies inoculations need to be up to date.........oh, and there are nasty ticks and insects on the ground even in these temperatures with an appetite to bite.
All travel, accommodation, subsistence and race entry costs for the aforementioned are personally covered by myself and will not be deducted or reimbursed from any fundraising donations. The entirety of all donations will go to Alzheimer's Society c/o The light Find.
Why a fundraising target of £4000.00? Well......this would pay for brain scanning equipment to detect changes in the brain caused by Alzheimer’s disease, in the hope of finding an affordable, non-invasive test to diagnose the condition.
Any support you are able to give - no matter how small or seemingly insignificant - will be greatly appreciated. As with anything in this day and age, the sum of the parts is always greater than the sum of the whole.
Very many thanks and kindest regards,