Day 151 has seen 23.6 Miles cycled with a climb of 1105 feet, 2 Miles walked, fears for the future settled and a 92 year old made very happy.

Today was the day I was to go and see the social work department duty intake worker. I was going to discuss, with the people who could make it happen, my end of life plan. The nuts and bolts I need in place to ensure that I am cared for when I loose the cognitive and motor function needed to be able to look after myself. The plan I need in place to ensure that I do not become a burden on my family. A burden on my children.

Day 150 - The moody Pentlands
Day 150 – The moody Pentlands

Needless to say I was not looking forward to this meeting as a 43 year old man who should have had years of healthy life ahead of him. Years in which to support his children and do something productive. Years to provide for my family. But not anymore. For the first time today, ever since that fateful day in which they found the shadow on the brain after scanning my ear in September 2013, I felt angry. I felt bitter. I felt so desperately cheated. I felt abandoned and as I attempted morning prayer and some organ practice to settle my mind and find God, find my anchor and rock that was going to carry me through this day I even found myself starting to question my very faith. Question how he could let me get into this very predicament in the first place. After a career that was focused on service; on always trying to do the right thing. How could he risk tarnishing my children’s childhood with the painful memories the loss of a father can bring. I had a huge lump in my throat. I was struggling to be able to read the morning prayer service sheet and couldn’t even play one tune on the organ. I stopped trying and with the tears of bitterness in my eyes as I worried for the children’s future I switched off my phone that had been showing the morning prayer website. In my pocket I carry a set of prayers and readings that I have selected or been given that provide for me hope and encouragement when I need it. I reached for it and started reading. I found what I was looking for:

‘Come to Me with a thankful heart, so that you can enjoy My Presence. This is the day that I have made. I want you to rejoice today, refusing to worry about tomorrow. Search for all that I have prepared for you, anticipating abundant blessings and accepting difficulties as they come. I can weave miracles into the most mundane day if you keep your focus on Me.’

I stopped blubbing. Folded up the prayer sheet and realised that I should be thankful that despite the epilepsy I was still able to be physically active. Thankful that despite the loss of hearing in my right ear I could still hear in my left and enjoy the sound of music both man made and natural. Thankful that despite the loss of inner ear and henceforth balance I have managed to train the brain to take on the balance function. Thankful that despite the brain tumour I could still think and act. I could map read and explore God’s wonderful creation and try and live life to beat the beast. I had a chance. I just had to believe and even better could improve the lives and life chances of so many more people while providing inspiration and encouragement to last for years in the memories of the children. But I wasn’t going to achieve that by being a blubbing mess in the church. It was a beautiful day. I had a meeting in Stirling at 1100hrs. It was 0830hrs. If I moved quickly I could get home, get changed, repack my kit to include the stuff I need for the bike and get going in time to make the meeting in time having cycled through the glorious countryside on the old railway line into Dunblane and then past the cathedral and hard up the hill towards the top of the Kippenrait Glen before tearing down through the glen into Bridge of Allan before then cycling alongside the River Forth into Cambuskenneth, past the Abbey and over the river into riverside and up into the old part of the city of Stirling for the municipal building and my meeting. I could arrive as I intend to continue. Alive, capable and fighting.

It took me longer than I had planned to get going but I wasn’t going to catch the No. 59 bus today. I could have done but not today. Sun cream on to protect my skin made much more sensitive by the chemo, shorts on, water packed et al I was good to go. I bumped into some friends on the way and stopped for a chat which emboldened me further before pushing on realising that I had lost 45 minutes. I had an hour to cover 11.8 miles and climb over a thousand feet. It was going to be tight but I could make it and I did, arriving at 1105hrs after a wonderful ride through glorious rolling countryside, a dramatic plunging glen with a burn bubbling through, the dappled shade of wooded glades and yes, it is possible in Scotland, all the while bathed in bright sunshine.

Day 150 - Another photo of the Pentlands, with sunlight only in the distance
Day 150 – Another photo of the Pentlands, with sunlight in the distance

I arrived at the reception hall of the Municipal building hot but happy. Really happy that I had managed to get a grip of myself and grabbed a hold of life. I strolled up to the desk, slightly flustered that I was 5 minutes late but keen to get on with this meeting. To seize control of my future. But then I stood there and babbled an almost incoherent load of gobbledygook. I couldn’t remember who it was I was here to see nor what their job title was. I could remember my name and date of birth but couldn’t remember those few simple details that I had checked up on in my diary just an hour and a half earlier. I vibrated gently with building frustration as I stood there, my mouth just opening and closing like a guppy’s and apologising profusely for being so thick. The only way any of this would have made any sense to anyone on the desk was to explain why it was perhaps this young man stood in front of them in his ‘go with noaks’ shorts and shirt splattered slightly with mud was struggling to be coherent. It was at times like this that the invisibility of brain injuries can become a significant hindrance. I realised why it was that those suffering from mental health issues can sometimes be called the invisible few. I looked normal. Perhaps not particularly fashionable but I looked normal. There were no visible signs of injury, just a scar hidden under hair. I looked fit and I was attempting to smile. I just wasn’t functioning well. The team at the reception desk though were brilliant and extremely helpful. Through single words uttered through a gawping guppy mouth with bumping gums and an exasperated plea for help the team managed to correctly guess the nature of my visit. It became like a game of charades and I so wanted to cheer with my finger on my nose while pointing at the lady on the phone when they tracked down somebody expecting me.

I took a seat and waited just a couple of minutes before we were into the meeting with two social workers. Both experienced hands they immediately set me at ease. I introduced myself and my predicament. Why I was there and what I hoped to gain from it. What I got instead was far better than I could have ever hoped for. By tying in to the social work system at this stage I was priming the system to be ready to support me when the buzzer goes. They were going to help me with my expression of interest for Erskine hospital. They could source and help with the provision of the care needed to keep me living independently at home for as long as I could and which would include adaptations to the flat and equipment so that I could still feed myself and drink and use the loo despite motor deficiencies. They could tap me into the financial advice needed to help produce a plan that would see me be able to afford the care I needed without taking every last penny I owned. And best of all they could protect me from the mountains of paperwork, that I have discovered, such incredible systems of help need to generate. It was one of the best and most productive meetings that I have had in a long time and I was hugely thankful for their help, advice and reassurance. Clearly I had to seize the opportunity to reassure them that I was trying to beat the beast so introduced them to the challenge. They both seemed captivated by what I was telling them so I very much hope that they enjoy their glass of wine or two this evening and decide to come and join me on this journey while also doing whatever they can to help me raise awareness of the challenge. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the council could make the challenge one of the causes that they publicly support. Why not? I am a local man doing the best he can with the time he has while being supported by the excellent social work department. I feel a story coming on!!

But I had to continue to write it and I wanted to get back in time to see if Margaret would like to try some of my cooking. So I set off on the 11.8 mile route back climbing the 1105 feet in reverse. Again it was hard work but enjoyable and I made it all the way in with no problems. I just felt content that things were coming together. That the future plan was coming into place. Slowly but deliberately so it was coming into line.

Once home and with the bike washed and oiled, me bathed and boots cleaned I popped downstairs to see Margaret. Would she like to have some of my tea tonight. I’m cooking anyway. Don’t want to waist the second portion, might be quite nice, but will be jolly healthy. Margaret leapt at the chance so I nipped upstairs and started cooking. Soba Noodles, Tenderstem broccoli, coconut oil, shiitake mushrooms, mirin, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, dried chilli flakes, tamari, apple cider vinegar, sesame seeds and seaweed. It sounded like a very odd mix but this superfood Broccoli and Shiitake Mushroom Soba Noodle Bowl had a kick but was delicious and very healthy. I am yet to see Margaret who seemed delighted when I delivered the finished meal. But with a little luck she enjoyed it.

Margaret’s verdict to come tomorrow!

So the challenge in numbers in total since the start
Days completed: 151
Total Miles Cycled: 684.44
Total Miles Walked: 800.08
Total Miles Run: 116.63
Total Miles Paddled: 7
Total Distance Cycled, Skied, Run and Rowed in the gym: 42.17
Total Distance Swum: 3,780 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.1,654.02
Total Height Gained under own steam: 55,625 feet
Mountains Climbed: 6
Hills Climbed: 25
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: 12
Weight shifted: 10kgs lifted over 318metres or 6360kgs moved over ½ a metre,
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 8
Press Ups: 580
Pull Ups: 100
Sit Ups: 845
People Met and Hands Shaken: 460
Pots of tea shared: 30
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: 2
Pills popped: 864
Days until Driving Licence (lost to epilepsy) possibly Returned: 726
And most importantly – Money Raised as at Week 39 – £7,714

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 £52.83 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 £54.02 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