Day 137 has seen 6 miles walked, a promise fulfilled, a meeting of inspiration, blood, lots of it with two angels of mercy and crushing frustration born out of charity.

This morning started simply enough with a 1 mile walk, towards the castle this time and another bag of rubbish collected. Breakfast eaten, packed lunch made, rucksack packed and I was off to see Gordon for a lesson on the Cloud and how to use it to make the management of the challenge easier while on the road. He had promised to give me a lesson on it some time ago and 3 times had emailed me a time on which I could go and see him for the lesson. 3 times I failed to see the email until after the lesson time. Yet still he gave me a fourth opportunity to fulfil his promise. By the time I reached Gordon I was in tremendous spirits because as I walked through the village I was repeatedly stopped by residents of the village who were enquiring after my health while repeatedly saying how well I was looking. It must have been because the sun was shining. That has a habit of raising everyone’s spirits but then I walked into the offices of Key Facilities Management to meet Gordon and all were so very pleased to see me and again remarking on how well I was looking. I was made to feel most incredibly welcome by all and then had a most wonderfully simple lesson from Gordon on the Cloud, how to access it, how to use it to maximum effect and how to therefore maximise the effectiveness of all the tools I have at my disposal to further the aims of the challenge. It was good, quick, so incredibly simple and yet so incredibly powerful when used well. That was a brilliant 15 minutes with Gordon and Key Facilities Management so a huge thank you to them. So good it was in fact that I had to celebrate with a takeaway Mocha and a very cheeky Malteser slice from the wonderful Buttercup Café to celebrate such a good start to the morning. Then a quick walk down to the Information Centre for a map of the Stirling area as my last one had fallen apart after a good many months of heavy usage. Back to the flat to collect my kit and back out again for the No.59 bus to the Cowane Centre for a 21 minute wait for the No. MA2 bus to the Wallace Monument Car Park. I was going up the Abbey Craig to have a look at the Wallace Monument again.

As I waited for the bus I started to chatting to a lady I had not met before but who lived in the village yet had not heard of the challenge. Just as I was about to tell her about it the bus arrived but she invited me to sit with her so that I could tell her my story. So I did and then I discovered why we were to meet this day. Diana had just been given the all clear from Breast Cancer. She reminded me that one can never say that it is totally beaten. That there is always a chance that it might come back but here, sat right next to me was living, breathing, walking, talking and looking a million dollars proof that Cancer can be beaten. This was a wonderful meeting and great news for me and for many. All too soon though I had to get off and bade farewell with a prayer of thanks in my heart while wishing a quiet blessing on her future.

Cambuskenneth Abbey
Cambuskenneth Abbey

I sat in the sunshine talking to a family before they too were on their bus. So I set about making some notes on the wonderful meeting with Diana only to look up and realise that my bus, the MA2 had just passed. I got up and looked at the bus timetable and with the help of another gentleman at the stop discovered that it was only another 10 minutes before another bus I could use was to come along. So I sat and waited and another bus arrived with that same gentleman who had just helped me getting on and as he did so I glanced across to my right and saw the most extraordinary sight of an older gentleman shuffling as fast as he could with his stick held high in the air as he ran with his two plastic shopping bags for the bus. I jumped to the door before it closed and asked the driver if he wouldn’t mind waiting for this gentleman. He agreed so I stepped backwards and looked across to the gentleman with my hands up and facing him while calling across ‘slow down, no need to rush, the driver’s waiting’, but as I stepped back to let him past he tripped over his own feet and fell in an almost vertical superman dive, dropping his shopping bags on his way past me. I couldn’t catch him. I was too slow to stop him so he flew right past me his left shoulder crashing hard into the advertising board on the bus stop almost in mid air in full flight, stopping him solidly before coming crashing hard to the pavement. I checked that the driver had seen so didn’t try and pull off at the risk of running over his legs. Then turned to the gentleman to see already in attendance a lovely blond lady nursing his gashed head. I was trained as a team medic while in the Army for a particular job I was doing so was more than happy to take over from this lady only to discover that she was a trainee nurse from Accident and Emergency. She knew what she was doing and clearly wanted to be in charge so I stepped back and observed to see how I could usefully help. She was going to leave Edward at 85 on the pavement until the ambulance arrived so as to avoid the risk of further injury. The bus was providing protection from passing traffic so I took my fleece off and lay it over his top half to help keep him warm. Then I reached into my rucksack for my first aid kit but all she wanted was paper handkerchiefs. I had none so jumped on to the bus and asked if any of the passengers might have some clean paper handkerchiefs that they wouldn’t mind giving to me for Edward. As I asked, there was not one grunt of dissatisfaction at having to wait for this gentleman to be taken away by the ambulance before being able to resume their journey. Instead there was a flurry of activity as ladies bowed their heads to ruffle around in their handbags for tissues and the men arched their back to lift up their bums to get into their trouser pockets looking for handkerchiefs. It was yet another wonderful example of how great society can be. Handkerchiefs gathered I was back out and handed them over. Another lovely blond lady had joined the nurse to help. I enquired as to who she was and discovered that she was another nurse from another hospital who had stopped to help. I reached again into my rucksack for my woolly hat to put under Edwards head to make him more comfortable and as I did so person after person stopped, not to gawp, but to make genuine offers of help. And so the time passed as I then laid my softshell jacket over Edward’s legs to further keep him warm. Then the driver needed my details as a witness so I gladly handed them over with my phone number and a reassurance to the driver that this was nobodys fault. Just an unfortunate trip and to my mind the driver had done all he could to ensure Edward’s and the remaining passenger’s safety. As I did so, all was in control. The driver was waiting for a replacement bus for the passengers. I had been on and off the bus to witness more head bowed handbag rustling and arched back pocket searching for more handkerchiefs and then some antiseptic wipes but supplies were now exhausted and bleeding slowing to a more controllable rate. So we were waiting for the ambulance and I saw an opportunity to introduce the driver to the challenge so did so, handed him a flyer and then heard the peel of the ambulance. I helped get Edward lifted onto the back stretcher from the kerb and that was all the help I could offer. I had earlier collected all his spilt shopping and found the broken lenses and frame of his glasses and put them together in one of the bags so I made sure that they went on the ambulance with him while retrieving my fleece and softshell jacket. I then turned determined to thank the two delightful nurses and to introduce them both to the challenge only to discover what unsung heros and heroins our NHS staff truly are. The first nurse had made a run for it. She wasn’t hanging around for tea and medals. No she was dashing off to work the other Nurse told me. So I asked the other nurse if she wouldn’t mind me taking a photo of her for the challenge facebook page as I handed her a copy of my flyer. Cherie declined a photo as she was just doing her job and clearly wanted to dash to work too so I had just enough time to ask her to relax with a glass of wine and a video this evening. Both these two nurses were wonderful examples of the truly passionate drive to serve for the health and comfort of others, of their patients, whoever and wherever they are and to do so without want of recognition or reward for their service beyond a fair wage and the wonderfully warm feeling that they had helped others each and every day of their working lives.

I caught the next bus and, two hours later than planned, set off for the top of the Abbey Craig to visit the Wallace Monument. I was happy and smiling. It had been a good day so far. The sun was shining and so it looked like I might have a good view at the top of the Abbey Craig while I ate lunch.

I sure did and as I sat munching through my tuna mayonnaise sandwich with spinach, rocket and watercress salad I sat enjoying the view, enjoying the sunhine, enjoying the happy noises of families visiting the monument. Then as I started on my tenderstem broccoli, carrot, red grape and cherry tomato veggie pick and mix bag my phone rang and my whole day changed as I came crashing down from the high I was sailing on back to the reality of the frustrations I was increasingly feeling on this journey.

It was a hugely frustrating phonecall from Cancer Research UK. I was Initially captivated by this lovely voice asking, ‘hello? hello? Is that Archie? Archie Douglas?’ As I answered to the affirmative and she told me she was calling from Cancer Research UK I was immediately thinking that yes! Finally, the charities were showing an interest in me but then she asked,’May I ask why it was that you decided to choose to support Cancer Research UK?’ I stopped. I took a deep breath and then I asked if she had any idea who I was and what the challenge was. She explained that I was a person on her list of supporters that she had to call for a survey and to encourage further fund raising effort!! I stopped the survey. Introduced her to the challenge and asked her to pour a glass of wine and watch a video and then take me tomorrow, back to her boss with my message of immense disappointment about how unsupported I felt by Cancer Research UK. How I desperately needed them to get behind the challenge. The 8 months of challenge activity seeing over 1,431 miles covered under my own steam while fighting through a brutal 18 months of treatment and over 1,400 pounds raised for each of the 5 charities had been a lonely journey in which I felt little supported by any of the charities with the exception of WWF who had given a T-shirt each to Heather and James for joining me on a couple of activities and had also given me a goody bag for distribution to the children I tend to meet on the journey. But apart from that I heard nothing. Not a peep from any of the charities: Nothing from Help for Heroes despite being an ex soldier battling a disease triggered as a result of a blunt force trauma sustained during my military service. Surely I am exactly the sort of person they were funded to help. But I am not looking for financial assistance. I am not looking for anything other than a bit of support and encouragement as I try and turn my desperate circumstances into a positive and for the benefit of their charity and others. 

Abbey Craig Castle from the Riverside
Abbey Craig Castle from the Riverside

Nothing from the Princes’ Trust despite being perhaps, the sort of story that could encourage some of their young men and women to find a way to succeed in their chosen path despite the poor circumstances in which they might find themselves.
Nothing from Cancer Research UK despite being a patient on a cancer trial and trying to provide a message of hope, inspiration and encouragement for those fighting the disease or that might lead to healthier lifestyles to prevent the disease.
Nothing from the British Red Cross despite trying to improve the lives and life chances of so many more people like they do and being active and available to help in a crisis should they want me.
Nothing in terms of encouragement and support. Not a dicky bird. Nothing.

All I hoped for was the occasional email or message encouraging me on. All I wanted was for my efforts, my story on this journey to feature in their enormous social media presence. I was and continue to be happy to do the hard work and tell the extraordinary story as it unravels each and every day, but despite repeated requests as I donated more money to the charities each quarter I received a resounding No. I was outside the box. I wasn’t raising money just for them. I wasn’t climbing Everest or swimming the channel. I wasn’t participating in a one off organised charitable event. I was just getting out there each day and fighting hard to make every day God gives me worthwhile. I was fighting hard each and every day but none of the charities seem to be interested until Kingdom Bank sends them a bank transfer from the challenge. And even then I have to chase the charities to get an acknowledgement that they had actually received the money. In the Army I was a number but I was a number that mattered. Now, with the charities, I am just a name with a telephone number about whom they have no idea. Despite all my efforts, I don’t fit into their system. I don’t fit on their computer. I don’t qualify for support because I am not raising money just for them. How am I ever going to be able to raise the significant sums that are eminently achievable without support from the very charities I seek to support. I am in an extraordinary situation. I am telling an extraordinary story. I am connecting with people each and every day. I am within the people each and every day. Yet I have thought outside the box. Therefore I am outside the box. But I am not lonely. I am so beautifully supported by my family, my friends, my village and all those wonderfully courageous people I am lucky enough to meet each and every day. But I will never achieve my potential without the support of the charities and the media to raise awareness of my challenge. I am not a one shot wonder. Yes I am not tackling any of the big challenges like climbing Everest or swimming the channel so there is no amazing one off, paper selling headline. Instead I am fighting each day to survive against all the odds and uncovering the most extraordinary story of perseverance, courage, kindness abounding in huge quantities within our very own wonderfully generous society, and the true meaning of family, friendship and faith with the highs and tear jerking lows of this journey providing hope, inspiration and encouragement to so many. But this is no soap opera. There is no story line. Only that written by God but known only to him. Each and every day is uncertain and an adventure and I have no idea how each day is going to unravel. I have no idea how my story is going to end. Or when it is going to end. All I do know is that I have a most extraordinary story that with the right support could get into the national consciousness. That could become a journey that all want to be a part of. That could have the nation holding it’s breath to see what happens next. And I am very happy to do it publicly, warts and all because I have sworn to serve and to try and make a difference with every day God sees fit to give me. The story of this journey has the potential to raise so very much money for each of the 5 charities. More even than beyond my wildest dreams but only with the right support in the Media and the charities enormous social media presence to get my message out there. And right now the charities themselves don’t even know who I am. 

So if you can. In any way that you can. Please help me to get the charities to stop treating me like a telephone number. Help me to get the charities to help me to help them with their enormous social media presence and capabilities. Help me to get the media to get behind the challenge and drum up support. I am financially rock solid. Not even a single penny of that raised gets spent on costs or wasted. Every single penny raised goes to the 5 charities and is fully accountable. Nothing is off limits. I have told the story warts and all and with a little imagination we can prove that good news sells papers. Good news can raise millions over a sustained period. Good news can encourage and inspire healthier eating, good news can inspire a physically healthy lifestyle, good news can improve society’s relationship with itself. There is far more good than bad out there. You just have to engage with it. Good news can inspire improvements in mental health. Good news can inspire the strengthening of bonds within family and friends. Good news can inspire the drive for success. Good news can create a focus in life. Good news can inspire healing. 

The Wallace Monument
The Wallace Monument

Please help me to spread the good news as far and wide as I can in any way that you can.

Thank you

So the challenge in numbers:
Days completed: 137
Total Miles Cycled: 659
Total Miles Walked: 692
Total Miles Run: 48.5
Total Miles Paddled: 7
Total Distance Cycled, Skied, Ran and Rowed in the gym: 28.3
Total Distance Swum: 2,740 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.1,431.5
Total Height Gained under own steam: 35,681 feet
Mountains Climbed: 5
Hills Climbed: 20
Days of Voluntary Activity: 8.5
Organ tunes learnt and performed: 5
Salmon Caught: 0!
Bats Found:0!
Curling Matches played in: 8
Curling stones placed on the button (the centre of the target): 3
Weight Training Sessions: 10
Weight shifted: 10kgs lifted over 102metres or 2040kgs moved over ½ a metre,
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 7
Press Ups: 398
Pull Ups: 82
Sit Ups: 483
People Met and Hands Shaken: 395
Pots of tea shared: 29
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 2
Prayers joined in the street!: 4
Prayers joined in a Train Station: 1
Prayers joined in a Café: 1
Pills popped: 776
Days until Driving Licence (lost to epilepsy) possibly Returned: 660
And most important of all – Money Raised as at Day 126 – £6,710.77

Considering I started this challenge 6 months ago very quietly with no target beyond a fiver, thanks to the brilliant advice from a friend of mine, I am absolutely thrilled and again thank you all. That is £53.26 for each and every day that I have managed to find the will and energy to do something worthwhile and my goodness it has been worth it for my peace of mind, for my healing and for the five wonderful charities you are supporting through your generosity. Long may it continue. May I also ask however that if you are not sponsoring me to please consider it for as much or as little as you can afford. My rate of revenue raising has slowed from £70.00 a day to £60.00 a day to £53.26 a day so please sponsor me and encourage your friends to as well.

Thank you all for your incredible comments and support. Please continue to spread the word.
If you see me around do please give a cheery hello and shake my hand or toot your horn and give a cheery wave to show your support and encourage me on.

Thank you for joining me on my own personal journey and encouraging me to walk, cycle, climb, paddle, sport and do good deeds each day to ‘Beat the Beast’ while helping to improve the lives and life chances of so many more people through sponsorship. The Five Charities that I have selected to support are:

  1. Cancer Research UK – My Father Succumbed to Lung Cancer; a couple of friends are currently fighting cancer and I am fighting a brain tumour. Let’s Help to Beat Cancer Sooner.
  2. The Prince’s Trust – Inspiring and preparing disadvantaged Young Lives for success.
  3. British Red Cross – helping those in need around the UK and the world whoever and wherever they are.
  4. World Wide Fund for Nature – For a Living Planet and a Future Where People and Nature Thrive.
  5. Help for Heroes – Support for our Wounded and their Families. To learn more about my story that brought me to this point, how I plan to ‘Beat the Beast’, what activities I plan to do within the challenge and why, please see my welcome video on this page.

How to Sponsor Me

The Beat the Beast Challenge is self funding through my own contribution while keeping costs to a minimum with voluntary support and corporate sponsorship in kind. Therefore the entirety of every penny donated will go directly to the 5 charities listed above.

Please sponsor me by completing a standing order form either through your own personal internet banking or by completing a hard copy standing order form in your branch of your bank and then handing it in to the teller.

It is entirely up to you how much you would like to and are able to sponsor me for so do please give as much or as little as you can. Every penny will be very gratefully received.

While I hope you will encourage me to keep going by sponsoring me for every day I survive and am able to find the cognitive and physical capability to complete a day’s task designed to improve my chances of ‘Beating the Beast’ or improving the lives of others, 5 days a week, four weeks a month, for as long as ever I can. Any One off Cash contributions will be most gratefully received and distributed in exactly the same manner to the five charities as the sponsorship. Any one off donations can be made by BACS or cheque.

Thank you for having enough faith in me to sponsor me.

Yours aye