My son-in-law, Kris Dore, has not only dug a couple of flower beds for the dreaded in-laws, he's now joined forces with his mate, Lee Read to take part in the 21 July Eton Dorney Triathlon to raise funds for Words for the Wounded! If you'd like to contribute to the fundraising, please click on this virgingiving link.
We are just so grateful to these strong young men who are training, training, training, and somehow fitting it around their jobs. Why are they doing it? Because they know the difference every penny makes to the wounded. Last year it was Matt Pain, my son (and a W4W trustee) who did the Lanzarotte Ironman to raise funds. Where would we be without these fantastic youngsters. I have to say that the remains of the team, Penny Deacon, Tracy Baines and moi, all ever so slightly beyond the first flush of youth, are now looking at one another wondering if it will be our turn next. Lordy. Anyone for a toddle around the park?
In fact I can remember doing a cycle ride around Israel some years ago now to raise money for Action Research. I did it with Chris Hancock, my Somerset neighbour, where I lived then. Neither of us had been on a bike for ages. (What possessed us? One of those 'why not' moments obviously). In fact, I don't think I had pushed the pedals since I was 8.
Good grief, the palaver once the panic had set in. First my saddle had to be considered. It ended up looking and feeling more like a sofa after Dick and I had inserted all sorts of foam rubber under the totally inadequate saddle cover I had bought to ease the situation. Chris was far more stoic and just got on with it. As the trip was to be on and off road we trained for almost a year, on and off road. Perhaps not as either Kris or Matt would but it suited us. We cycled for miles and miles around the roads and lanes of Somerset equipped with all that we might need: sandwiches, flasks of tea and coffee, the odd Mars bars and yes, in there too, was the kitchen sink. All stuffed into our panniers. Never been fitter, or with heftier thighs. We were ready to take on the world, as long as we had access to our nibbles.
Just before we went we struck lucky because we saw a snippet on the TV about a bloke who had devised a saddle-post that included a double shock absorber and wrote to him, wondering if we could have one each, for free. Bless him and his wife, the answer was YES. It made the sofa even more comfy.
Once in Israel we had to use the bikes provided. My saddle-post fitted. Chris's did not. I am ashamed to admit I did not offer to swap. No way. Off we went, with the 80 or so others. There were 8 women and a huge number of young men in lycra who I doubt we'd recognise at any reunion as we became inordinately familiar with their black lycra clad bums roaring away into the distance. We came to dread the call of the leaders. 'A slight undulation ahead.' Which meant a mountain. We stayed in kibbutz. We ate together. We felt we'd die halfway through each afternoon as the miles built up and so too the heat as there was an unexpected heatwave. We saw the most amazingly fertile country, with its almond groves, its irrigated fields. We dipped into the Dead Sea and there was an unseemly rush into the waters of an oasis during one exhausting morning. What's more, neither Chris nor I ended up in the dreaded coach that followed, picking up stragglers. It was a life changing experience. It made us realise that if we put in the work we could probably pull things off.
So, here we are today with Words for the Wounded doing its bit to help those so sorely hurt; mentally or physically. Thank you to our own young men who are helping -it moves us and makes us proud.
And it's not just Kris, Lee and Matt who are helping, but Matt's friend, Freddie Hodgson author of Putney Ferret has sponsored us for over £200 towards next year's prizes.
Problems with the upcoming generation? I think not.
So, with the help of everyone out there, we'll go on donating to the cause.
In the meantime, be thinking of 'Your journey', which is the theme of our next writing prize because not everyone is an athlete, or a cyclist (!), but have other strengths. Whoever and whatever you are, don't forget the lads and lasses who are struggling in the aftermath of their experiences.
Keep training Kris and Lee, we're with you in spirit. I do have a comfy saddle and I, Margaret Graham bequeath it to you if you feel the need..!