I have now finished my year of fund raising. I want to thank everyone for their support during the past year. In total funds raised are:
British Heart Foundation - £7,745
Joe Herrington Memorial Fund - £2,245
American Heart Association - $100
On the 12 March 2012 I booked and paid for a 100km trek in the Sahara desert. This was two days after Luke came home from Papworth Hospital after his heart valve replacement surgery.
I chose to do this challenge because I met an amazing team of nurses and doctors who save lives every day and to whom I felt I needed to say thank you. But those two words just didn't seem enough somehow, so I decided to raise as much money as I could and highlight a charity that has always had a very personal resonance with me. The British Heart Foundation has basically funded the research into treating heart conditions that has enabled my husband, brother, father and mother to live full and interesting lives.
As most of my friends know, I am not the fittest of people. I play tennis with enthusiasm on Monday evenings but see it more of a reason to see lovely people I don't get the chance to see very often. The same can be said for my squash nights. Also I am known to prefer stopping for a quick cappuccino than completing a major walk at a record pace. So embarking on this challenge was pretty significant for me. But those that know me recognize that I am someone who keeps to my promises, and when I say I am going to do something, I really do.
So the day is here. On Saturday morning I will be setting off to Heathrow, catching a flight to Casablanca, then onto Ouarzazate (about 2.5 hours south of Marrakesh). On Sunday we will be transferred by jeeps to Achbarou, the "Door of the Desert", and dropped off to walk 9km to our first camp. Sounds easy.
On Monday we trek 16km on sand dunes, traversing the Maider El Kbir plateau to camp at the bottom of Jebel Lamrakeb. Tuesday we climb Jebel Lamrakeb then walk down the valley to the O'Hare Gorges to camp in palm groves. This will be a tough day of 28km. On Wednesday we cross the biggest dunes and trek along the dry Rhris River. This is another tough day of 27km trekking. Thursday we will leave the dunes and trek across the open desert plateau, covering 23km and setting up our last camp with the team and our local Berber guides. That's if it all goes to plan:-)
So my year of fund raising is nearly over. I set a target of £5,000. As of today the total raised is £9,530. When I realised that I was going to raise more than my target, Luke and I decided to donate some of the money to the Joe Herrington Memorial Fund. Joe was a sporty local Cambridge lad who died unexpectedly with an undiagnosed heart condition. Our son Ciaran is the same age Joe was when he died and went to the same school, so this seemed appropriate. Joe's family donates the money raised to CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) that screens teenagers for heart conditions.
So to finish I would just like to say a big thank you to some key people who have helped me get to this point today. Ali Woollatt, Karri Fuller, Barbara Taylor, Helen Druiff, Lesley Tubb, Di Day, Shirley Shipton, Tricia Beasley, Pam Shelly, Penny Chudleigh who have been my Saturday walking crew who have provided me with lots of advice and encouragement and made sure I put the K's in each week. Also a very big thank you to Julie Broomfield who has also consistently walked with me and ignored my pleads for a latte:-)
Also thanks to everyone who has donated money, or donated time or products to the Auction of Promises. And finally to Luke, Ciaran and Hannah who put up with my crazy ideas.
During the trek I will also be thinking of Jack Stone-Wigg. A treasured boy who would have celebrated his 11th Birthday this year. This is also for you.
All my kit laid out
Packed into two rucksacks.
Only five more weeks to go and I have stepped up my daily walking. When I am not in my studio I put on my walking boots, that now feel like slippers, and off I go. Before I decided to do this challenge I would either drive or cycle but I have really enjoyed seeing Cambridge in a whole new light by walking.
Last week I went to the Peak District with a friend and four of our children (all girls ranging from 8 - 13). The idea was to walk as much as we could. However when we arrived to find a few inches of snow and then waking the next day to more snowfall we had to change our plans! We did walk, but the snowfall was pretty heavy all day so we decided to give in and just play in it instead!
We had a fabulous Auction of Promises on the 1 st February. 103 pledges were received and we raised just over £6,000. We were thrilled with the result after many months of planning. We also wanted to support a local charity, the Joe Herrington Memorial Fund, and we donated £2,000 of the total raised on the night to this charity.
Many thanks to all our donators, helpers, the Auctioneer Alistair Wayne, and the band One Night Only, who made their debut performance.
We have been overwhelmed with support for our Auction of Promises. Due to the size of the venue we are restricted on numbers so I am afraid anyone not on the guest list will not be let in. Please note it is a private function only.
We will let all our wonderful donors know how mush we raise after the event.
I spent last weekend in the company of lovely friends on the Norfolk coast. The aim was to walk as much as possible. The weather was a little dicey but on Saturday we managed a good ten mile walk along the Peddars Way between Cley and Wells next the Sea.
They did warn me that my hat looked like I'd just got off a horse. Must have been the beer.
On Sunday we started out in glorious sunshine to walk along Cley beach to Blakeney Point. Unfortunately the wind was so strong we turned back after two miles.
Only 73 days to go until I have to face those sand dunes. Not that I am counting of course. Here is a little article Style magazine published in the January 2013 issue.
A quick thank you to Lesley, Brian, Jenny and Jasmine Corbett who kindly sold their home-made Christmas cards and raised £50.00 which they have donated to my Just Giving page.
Their message says "Each Xmas we make homemade cards and donate to a charity. This year we support the BHF and your trek. Wishing you a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year!"
The total raised so far is £2,790. Invitations will go out in early January for the Auction of Promises. Only 60 tickets are available so it will be on a first come-first serve basis. I am looking into seeing how I can get on-line bidding working on line as well so nobody is disappointed.
Happy New Year to everyone!
Even though the weather gets increasingly colder I have continued to walk daily. The length of the walks vary but as long as I do something each day then I'm happy. My tennis and squash outings though are currently on hold due to a torn cartilage in my right wrist - yes it is also hindering my work but I now have no excuse to walk instead!
The total I have raised so far is £2,650. I am now focusing on the Auction Of Promises where I hope to raise the remaining £2,350. All of the £5,000 will go towards the British Heart Foundation. Anything raised over that I will be donating to the Joe Herrington Memorial Fund.
Many thanks to everyone so far who has contributed to my Auction of Promises.
In the depths of the January 2012 UK gloom I booked a flight to Bangalore to see my great friend of nearly 30 years Vicki Shepherd and her family. I took my 14 year old son, Ciaran with me who is more used to the western world as I wanted to open his eyes to something completely different. During our trip we had a wonderful, full-on expedition to Coorg, about 5 hours south west of Bangalore. We stayed at the Eco Habitat lodge where Som and Chetana looked after us so well it was very hard to leave.
On Sunday morning, very early, Som took Vicki and I through the jungle to base camp. It was a magical trek - hot and sticky but the views, peace and plants we saw on the way made up for it. Cocoa pods, coffee beans and peppercorns growing along the path were fascinating.
Even the part of the trek where we had to pick off the leeches that attached themselves to our socks and boots became an adventure.
The trek was very valuable preparation for dealing with heat and hills. While I dealt with the heat and going up with no problems I found that my knees did not like the way down one little bit!
Cocoa pods Peppercorns Vicki and Jo trekking
Vicki and Som de-leeching their feet Jo on the way down
Reaching base camp to a warm welcome of lemon water and spicy cabbage for breakfast.
I now have five more months of fund raising to go. So far I have raised £2,630. Over half way now. My Auction of Promises is now under way and set for 1 February 2013. Have a look at the pledges that have been kindly donated so far - with many thanks to everyone that has been supporting my year of fund raising - those that have donated pledges for the Auction, donated on my Just Giving page and those who force me to walk on a weekly basis. Thank you!
The walking is increasing and I can now keep up with my 'walking buddies'. I am nowhere near the miles I need to do yet to be fit enough for my trek in March 2013 which signify the end of my year of fund raising. But I am starting to feel a little fitter. I can now run for the ball a little bit faster during my weekly game of squash too! I am finding it a challenge though to keep fit alongside working but I am determined to complete the challenge in order to raise awareness of heart issues in general.
I could not get through this at the moment without some key people who are helping (whipping) me to keep going. They know who they are:-)
This Sunday is World Heart Day.
The total raised so far is £2,395. I have started back at the gym to help me get a bit fitter and have been walking as much as I can. The boots I purchased in April were causing me problems but Cotswolds Outdoor Company in Cambridge were wonderful and exchanged them for me without a murmur.
The next fund raising event is the Auction of Promises in February 2013. Many thanks to everyone who has donated 'a promise' so far.
Every penny raised will be going to the British Heart Foundation.
Last week I took part in a Cambridge charity walking event. The Bridge the Gap is a five-mile charity walk now in it's 11th year. 2012 was all about raising money for two local charities, Arthur Rank Hospice Charity and Press Relief - the News' Community Fund. This was my second year of walking and it is a wonderful morning trekking through the colleges. It is a friendly, sociable morning which everyone enjoys and I thoroughly recommend it.
The total raised so far is £2,275, which is nearly half way to my personal goal of £5,000. Many, many thanks to those who have made donations so far.
Here I am dressed in hippie gear at Luke's 50th Birthday party.
Many thanks to Nicky Guard who took some of these photos.
We were lucky with the weather yesterday although we had to move the gazebo due to strong winds. But the sun shone and we all had a fantastic day of tennis thanks to Ali Woollatt.
St John's College, Cambridge lent us 6 of their newly-surfaced courts for our American Style tournament. Twenty four players played 42 games of tennis and the winners and runners up were Paul with joint runners-up Nick and Gerald and Nicky and Frances.
I cannot thank everyone enough for playing and also to Tiggr and Nicky for serving the much needed coffee during the all-day event.
Here are a few photos from the day.
I have now raised £940 thanks to many wonderful people and sales from a recent show. I still have £4,060 to go but all 24 places have been filled for the Tennis Tournament booked for 1 July 2012 and I have started collecting donations for the Auction of Promises booked for 1 February 2013. I will also be holding an event later on in 2012.
My training for the trek is slow:-) No surprises there. I play tennis twice a week and squash every week too but the hard training will start in September. Somehow I will have to find the time to fit some training in around work in the studio. I have six paintings to complete for the next Cambridge Contemporary Art exhibition in October 2012 so time will be tight - I will have to invent a machine that helps me keep fit while painting:-)
Thewere founded in 1961 by a group of medical professionals wanting to fund extra research into the causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of heart and circulatory disease.
Coronary heart disease is the biggest killer in the UK. That is a short, sharp fact. Thehas a mission to fight against disease of the heart and circulation, so that it is no longer a major cause of disability and premature death.
I spent five hours in the critical care unit waiting for my husband to come back to life after a valve replacement operation. There were seven others who had also been operated on that day and I watched them all during those long hours. That afternoon and evening was a life-changing experience for me. I watched the most amazing nurses and doctors bring these people round after their surgeries and I was in complete awe. I left that room determined to give something back and help raise awareness of heart issues. I chose the BHF because of its mission.
My wonderful friend Ali Woollatt has been busy organising an American style tennis tournament to help me reach my target of £5,000. She has secured some first-class courts in central Cambridge. Places are limited though so it is invitation only event. But it will be a fantastic day of tennis so thank you Ali!
On Friday 1 February 2013 I will be holding an auction of promises raising funds for The British Heart Foundation. The venue has been booked and now I have the task of collecting the 'promises'!
There will only be 60 tickets available for the event and tickets will be issued nearer the time.
I already have several promises from some dear friends including weekend breaks in coastal Norfolk and Suffolk cottages, a celebration cake, tennis lessons and I will obviously be adding some artwork to be auctioned too.