Today has been a day which nearly flipped me in to a seizure as I bashed away at the computer for a solid 4 hours straight in order to produce information and wording required to further develop the website which is nearing completion. I enjoyed it but as I walked for a meeting and spiritual guidance with my Rector Alison in the Buttercup Café I realised that I might have overdone it a tad and warned Alison that I might sink into a partial seizure as we talked but not to worry and none ever came. It was a fantastic meeting in which I got the reassurance and guidance I so desperately needed and as I walked home I decided to publish the post below which I wrote this morning to introduce the team for the Beat the Beast Challenge on the website. I read it to Heather and her reaction told me I had to post it today. I’ve since had a good 3 mile walk over Currachmore, cooked Prawn Linguine for tea and am now off for another curling match this evening so give you my post in it’s unedited form for you now. I hope it conveys the scale of the operation and the scale of the gratitude I hold.

Currachmore at Dusk
Currachmore at Dusk

As I developed the idea for the Beat the Beast Challenge from the inspiration given to me during the epiphany I found that I was thinking ‘outside the box’. And in thinking outside the box I discovered that you find oneself completely ‘out of the box’. None of the financial and governmental systems, ideal for the routine of society, could support the cost free fundraising principles envisaged by me for the challenge. Neither could I find the time or did I have the skillset required to start to get my message of the challenge out to as many people as possible. I could walk and cycle but couldn’t maintain my crumbling bike. I could paddle but without a canoe or kayak or a vehicle and the ability to drive I couldn’t get to the water’s edge and with my epilepsy and poor balance it was advisable to be paddling with somebody. I needed a gym in which I could swim and do aerobic and strength circuits. I couldn’t play Golf, I couldn’t flyfish. I couldn’t play the organ. I couldn’t afford to pay for lessons and access and certainly couldn’t afford to buy an organ. If I was to ensure the children’s development could continue in the after school clubs and activities I was going to need help. I needed some financial rigour behind the challenge but I wasn’t an accountant. So although I started on this journey by myself all the hopes and aspirations I had for the challenge would have been for nought were it not for the incredible team that has joined hands around me to help me deliver all that I needed to do to make the most of the opportunity, inspiration and ideas given to me. So a huge and heart felt vote of thanks goes out to Kingdom Bank who stepped in to the gaping void I couldn’t find a high street bank to fill and are providing all their banking absolutely free of any charges. Not only that but they provided extraordinary levels of advice and support in the formation of an unincorporated charitable association complete with a constitution in order to ensure that all the monies raised in the challenge do not become tax liable against me.

A huge vote of thanks goes to Webb and Wallace Accountants in Doune who provide the financial rigour and advice I so desperately needed to ensure that every single penny of money raised goes straight to the 5 charities the challenge supports and that it is reportable and accountable. Again they provide their services absolutely free of any charges.

A huge vote of thanks again goes to Jo and Elizabeth of Webb and Wallace accountants and my cousin Nick Cooke who have formed the quorum and provided the financial management and charitable management expertise required for the successful management of the Beat the Beast Challenge unincorporated Charitable Association in delivering the charitable intentions, enshrined in the constitution, of my Beat the Beast Challenge.

A huge vote of thanks goes to Gordon Mitchell of the Key Facilities Management Company who has provided his time absolutely free of charge to build this website but also offer first class advice and support.

A huge vote of thanks goes to Sue Harvey of Harvey maps who sponsored the challenge with a huge run of flyers and mapping at cost.

A huge vote of thanks goes to Sarah Jane Chapman of the Good Copy Company for all her extensive and brilliant efforts, even while going through serious surgery herself and bringing up two beautiful children, in trying to find me some exposure in the National Media. Although not immediately successful Sarah Jane has done such a lot to raise the profile of the challenge which may well bare fruit as the challenge continues to grow in scope. Perhaps the development of the website will be the very catalyst all of Sarah Jane’s efforts needed.

A huge vote of thanks to Martin Heaps of MHCreations who has volunteered to support me in the management of the content of the website and the links through to content hung on you tube or other social media networks. A task that is critical to the success of the challenge but almost impossible to find the time to do when delivering challenge activity, and planning it, and maintaining the kit and equipment, and eating properly, and developing ideas and relationships for the challenge.

A huge thank you to Peter at Wheelology in Callander who has not only kept my old crumbling bike running for as long as he could but also provided a replacement bicycle and ancillaries at cost while providing all the man hours he spent trying to keep me on the road for free.

A huge vote of thanks to Stirling Council who have provided a disabled bus pass to entitle me to free bus travel in Scotland because it is this pass that has enabled so much of my activity. Without it and without the ability to drive I couldn’t possibly have afforded to cover the miles needed to deliver so much activity. Indeed the challenge would have stood a chance of collapsing under the financial weight of delivering the activity. Without it I wouldn’t have been able to afford to pay the two adult fairs equivalent to take the children to their after school activities.

A huge thank you to Stirling and Falkirk Canoe Club and the members within it who moved equipment around for me, and me around, and found a willing partner to guide me in a canoe in order that I could join them on the water.

A huge thank you to the Brucefields Family Golf Centre who have sponsored me with Golf lessons and practice time as a sport I had never tried before but had identified could provide the very cognitive and motor function coordination I needed to do in order to try and retrain the brain to beat the beast.

A huge thank you to the Central Scotland Bat Group for coordinating the transport and support I required to let me get out and assist them with their Bat conservation work. A huge thank you to the Doune Cricket Club for all their help, encouragement and support in providing cricketing opportunities and some coaching and practical support to provide opportunity to try and retrain the brain to Beat the Beast.

A huge thank you to the Stirling City Fire Department for inviting me as a reserve to join Team Noble as they train for their Row across the Atlantic in the Talisker Atlantic Challenge of 2017 in order to help me improve my fitness, reap the healing benefits of working closely with such a great team and raise awareness of the challenge. A huge thank you to the Doune Information and Heritage Centre for funding a publishing run of flyers to go into the Bridge magazine for distribution around the Kilmadock Parish. A huge thank you to the Doune Curling Club for welcoming me into their fold with open arms and patience as they taught me to curl then gave me opportunities to play in matches while collecting me and dropping me off so I could actually attend where the buses finished too early.

A huge thank you to Phil Deakin for the penning of and donation to the challenge of his two fabulous poems Hypen and Hope which I reproduce for you at the end of the post. A huge thank you to the McLaren Leisure Centre who have sponsored the challenge through the provision of membership for use of the swimming pool and gymnasium to allow me to build on my fitness and strengthen my immune system. Thank you also to the life guards and physical training coaches who guard me so closely to ensure that I never succumb to the effects of this beast of a disease while in their care.

Currachmore at Dusk again
Currachmore at Dusk Again

A huge thank you to the vestry and congregation of St Modoc’s church for providing such a warm and inviting space in which to worship in fellowship while also providing keys so that I may access the beautiful church for quiet reflection and prayer but also terrorise the poor and wonderful Rector Alison with my organ practice. Thanks are further extended to members of the congregation who have very kindly taken me out on to their beats on the River Teith to give me fly fishing lessons and fishing time. A sport that I not only found cognitively challenging but also deeply relaxing as one wiles away hours trying to perfect the cast to catch the elusive Salmon.

A huge thank you to the Blairdrummond Safari Park for their support in providing opportunity for me to get up close and personnel to God’s glorious creation while allowing me to do something useful and raising awareness of the challenge on my behalf. A huge thank you to the Buttercup Café and the businesses in Doune for all their efforts towards the immensely successful fundraising tea and other fundraising ideas that have also spurred other fundraising ideas.

A huge thank you to the entire village of Doune for supporting me so cheerfully but also especially the Mums and friends who are constantly offering help and assistance in getting the children to their various clubs and activities to ensure that my predicament does not become a burden upon their own development.

A huge thank you to the incredible Brain Surgery and Oncology team of the NHS Western General Hospital who have provided such expert care and attention. Who fought so hard to get me the best treatment and who stood and continue to stand by me and encourage me every step of the way through thick and thin.

A huge thank you to my friends and family and all 605 of you who I have met or who have joined me on the journey and thrown their significant resource behind the challenge in helping me raise awareness by liking and sharing the page or just telling their friends and family about me, raising sponsorship and delivering activity to raise sponsorship while at the same time being a constant source of encouragement and support as I continue to tackle the disease and the challenge.

I could not have achieved what we have achieved so far without the support from you all so I give my vote of thanks for you all as I truly mean it for you all:

‘Thank you so very much a million times over. I have a friend who would pay me a thousand camels for a friendship like that which you give to me. It is your support and encouragement along with perfectly timed messages that help to keep me on the true path of the challenge. Even when times are at their hardest and I have felt like throwing in the towel you have been there to encourage me forward. Thank you for being the best friend that I think I have ever had, for coming to me and putting your faith in me, for staying by me when I needed a friend like you more than ever I had before. Thank you; for together we are achieving so very much and have so very much more to achieve.

The biggest thank you of all goes to my children for just being so brave, encouraging and frankly inspirational to me.

Now the poems from Phil:

‘I met Archie through my work, and I have found him to be a strong and persuasive character whose heart is bigger for the suffering than anyone I have ever met! When talking to him, I mentioned I was writing a poem about the need to capture each moment and live it to the fullest. He has asked that I share it here,’

It is simply called Hyphen!

It’s not so much a mark of mere punctuation But rather it’s a sign,of life and it’s duration
As you look upon each chiselled stone
All standing to attention;
We try to truly look aloof and hide the apprehension,
Of humanity’s mortality,
Our final destination. As we reflect, the Danish Prince Ignites a flame that burns
‘That undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns’
How can you believe in destiny without a destination?
How can you build a building without an estimation?
Purpose is the reason, Intent the Creator’s cause.
For no one is an accident please, let me give you pause… But it’s the dash between the dates that makes me write today
And dash as we might and dash as we may
Each wistful fleeting moment can be stolen from our life an’
What joy is it to be summarised by a simple stone-carved hyphen?!?
The dates each side don’t really matter
For what is space and what is time?!
Without the space that’s in between Where lies the reason or the rhyme?!
Space is the distance between the matter If no space then… what’s the matter?!
Without my birth I wouldn’t live
Without my death no riddle,
No eulogy no mourning friends If no beginning and no end
Why even have a middle?! But upon a day four decades past I breathed fresh air anew
And as my lungs let out a yell I declared myself alive
And this is why I want to live
And not to just survive
To make the space between more meaningful
Take time to rest and savour
A life that’s full of life and hope
That’s bursting out with flavour
Life is but a vapour, now you see it now… You don’t
Maybe you’ll accept my words, maybe…. you just won’t
But invest your life into other people Your words into each other
Sow kindness ‘stead of selfishness
Make every man your brother
Leave a legacy of love that lives on inside your friends
Not a trail of bitterness that thankfully …just ends.
The moment that you stepped on stage
Your inextinguished fire raged Not cowering behind the curtain
Your words, your lines are there for certain
To raise your eyes towards the skies
And watch your dawning day arise
From the moment that you entered life you came in with a yell
Let generosity and courage ring loud like sounding bell
When time arrives for to depart
Your looks won’t matter, just your heart
So riding steed into the night
Don’t ever cease to fight the fight
But sound aloud your victory cry
For when freedom sings, your demons fly!

And the second poem, Hope:

Hope is a cloud, the size of a man’s hand,
Hope is a burial plot in a distant promised land,
Hope is a dream while you languish in a jail,
Hope is a song that lifts spirits when you fail
Hope is a royal seal set upon a King’s decree,
Hope is a baby saved to set his people free,
Hope is a shepherd boy who defies a giant’s yell,
Hope is a prostitute who hides spies inside a well.
Hope brings comfort, hope is kind, Hope turns water into wine.
Hope defies all reason,
Hope ignores the facts,
Hope is a coin in a fish’s mouth When it’s time to pay your tax!
Hope doesn’t know when it’s beaten,
Hope doesn’t give up the fight, Hope gives you strength when you’re weakest,
Hope turns your darkness to light
Hope can walk on water,
Hope makes you jump out the boat, Hope opens eyes of the blind man, Hope makes an axe-head to float!
Hope will stand beside you
When you’re thrown into the flame, Hope can sleep through thunderstorms
And command the wind and rain
Hope lowers a paralysed man Through a hole in someone’s roof, Hope discards all circumstance
And believes upon the Truth!
Hope is a hug, hope is a word, Hope is a smile, hope is absurd!
Hope always perseveres
But never counts the cost,
Hope leaves behind the ninety-nine To find the one that’s lost,
Hope is a loving Father
Waiting for his long lost son, Hope is the weakling in the tribe Crying out, “the battle’s won!”
Hope is a wounded Saviour
Hanging on a cruel tree,
Hope cries “Father, forgive them! They’re so blind, they cannot see!”
Hope breathes life into coldest tomb,
Hope breathes life into barren womb
Hope is resurrection,
The Way, the Truth, the Life,
Hope accepts you completely
When you’re suffering with strife
Hope, His name is Jesus,
Hope, this is my song,
For He lifts my head and wipes my tear,
And rectifies each wrong,
Hope is my Redeemer,
Hope, my coming King,
Hope, my raison d’être,
Hope, my everything!

P J Deakin 2014 ©

So what started as one man carrying God’s message of hope, inspiration and encouragement became a team built of countless individuals and organisations linking hands to provide hope, inspiration, encouragement and capability to me while building a smooth path on which to deliver the activity required. I was outside the box and struggling to find ways to deliver. Now we are all very much inside the box and delivering together with absolutely every penny raised guaranteed to go to the 5 charities the challenge supports. Thank you all.

Yours aye