This weekend has not been one of challenge activity as I have travelled South to London to stay with friends and attend the christening of my two new nieces Amie and Rebecca. No surprises were planned or inspiration sort. I had just intended to travel down quietly and enjoy the company of such dear friends and family. However those who know me and those who have been unfortunate enough to meet me on one of my adventures know well enough that I like to talk. But I have also learnt to listen and try hard to keep the senses working and stay in the moment to be alive to all the glorious things happening around me. So it is to some surprise,that I have found, from a quiet weekend, three great sources of inspiration willing me on to fulfill my promise to keep the challenge going for as long as ever I can.

Firstly On the train down I was fortunate to find myself sat next to the delightful Allie. She told me of her incredible journey that has led to a decision point as to whether or not she would continue with her studies and start her PhD in Theology. As the discussion went on we of course turned to the challenge but then found myself in conversation about the children and how they were handling the news of their father’s diagnosis. On analysing events with the children from the end of September 2014, when I told the children of the diagnosis until now, I suddenly realised that what I had been witnessing were very quiet and dignified expressions of courage. As I tried to fight back tears in conversation with Allie and appear courageous as we discussed the children I realised that they had been far more courageous than I had ever appreciated.

On a canal boating holiday with the family during the summer Heather was quiet over tea that evening and half way through slipped from the table and in to her cabin. I left her for a bit then went to check on her. She was distraught. The conversation had been about various people’s plans for the future and Heather had decided from what she had heard about Cancer and Brain Tumours that I wouldn’t be around for very long. She was upset but left the table because she didn’t want to upset me. What a courageous and thoughtful young woman. We had a cuddle and through teary eyes reassured each other and I her that I was going to be around for a long time yet and certainly, whatever happened that I was never going to leave her side and would be there for her even if just to reassure her through my presence. This calmed Heather and after a long cuddle and eye drying rejoined the party and settled in to a lovely happy evening. Heather, since that day, has been a real reservoir of positive energy as she bursts back in to the house after school with a song in her heart, a smile on her face and a funny story about some event or other. James was in conversation at home and was asked how he felt about Daddy going away for his operation and James responded in a positive way that I would be okay. James said that he was used to me going away on operational tours and that he never knew then whether or not I would be coming back. This time I was definitely coming back. I realised that through the availability of the news and then the stark reality of a couple of deaths in service involving friends from the Battalion that the children had grasped the realities of life in far more detail than I had ever appreciated. Yet through it all they developed a strategy for not only facing their situation in a positive way with their friends but for reassuring those they loved most that they were okay. I suddenly realised that that enigmatic smile from my son as he stood staring out at me from the sitting room window, waving gently as I drove off to Brize Norton to complete my tour of Afghanistan, was not an enigmatic smile at all but a mask designed to reassure me with a smile that not only was I going to be okay but that he was going to be okay too. True courage which it shames me to say has taken me so long to see.


I hold much admiration for both Heather and James. They have and continue to show and remind me of the many faces of courage from which I have lessons to learn and from which I draw great inspiration. Thank you Allie for helping me to unlock this realisation. The second source of inspiration is this great poster below made by my fabulous Godson Jamie with his brother Freddie and sister Ella. I cannot tell you how high it lifted my spirits after the long journey to their house battling through the underground, with the rugby matches and the football matches after a long train journey. I was excited and really looking forward to seeing the gang but to then turn the corner in to the house and see this was amazing. In fact so brilliant I would like to encourage a poster making campaign. Do you fancy making one and putting it on your door to help me raise awareness of the challenge? If you do please take a picture and post it as a visitor post on my facebook page. I would love to see your children’s efforts and hope that my story might inspire them in some way but certainly their poster will encourage me on greatly!!

The early morning walk through the bright sunshine on the deserted streets of London this morning gave me a most unexpected blessing. I had brought with me some delicious mints with none of the bad stuff in them and as I stretched out my left hand to tap a mint from the box into it I received a most unexpected surprise delivery. A bird pooed in to my hand from the tree under which I was passing. Most unimpressed by the parting gift I returned to the house to wash my hands and to be informed that such an event is a sign of good luck. Not convinced!!

The third source of inspiration came from the mass I attended with clan Kennedy this morning at the church of Our Lady and Saint Peter. We were warmly welcomed by Father Phillip and settled in to our seats, my senses on full readiness for what was due to unfold before us. During the service I was introduced to the incredible 50 years of dedication to the church of Sister Pat and on reading her life story was inspired by her determination to make her vocation one that improves the lives of others. Further on during the homily I was reminded of the incredible story of Saint Francis of Assisi. A journey from riches to rags about which I knew so little. On a week in which I approach further testing to reveal the success of or not of the treatment I have endured I have been greatly encouraged by the love and support of my family and friends at the christening of Amie and Rebecca today and inspired by the courage shown by my children, the artistic brilliance and enthusiasm of my godson Jamie with Freddie and Ella and the amazing story of dedication of sister Pat and Saint Francis of Assisi. I draw great courage from their stories and encouragement from family and friends.

Thank you all.