Day168 has seen a very generous donation, a 4.11 mile weighted walk climbing 433 feet completed, a concert given, 18 points out of 20 scored for Daddy’s experimental cooking, 6.68 miles cycled, 100 people met and cuddles received while raising awareness of World Vulture Day.

This post is a compilation of yesterday and today which has provided two most wonderful days.

Friday morning was spent completing some admin. As I came back into the flat after morning prayer and organ practice in church my 92 year old widowed downstairs neighbour buzzed me in through the door and met me at the entrance to her flat. We chatted but as we did I heard her say just how lonely she had been feeling. I knew that feeling and felt terribly for her. There had to be something that I could do for her. I offered to make her tea but she was wanting to use up some of her own food. So I had to think of something else. Later that morning James came over for a 4 mile fast walk. This was my physical element for the day and Heather’s ankle was still not quite strong enough for the challenge so did some more homework while James and I went for a walk. We were going to be playing a game I used to play with them both called the hare and the tortoise when they both declared that they wanted to get fitter for school cross country races. They would get frustrated trying to run with me because they felt that I was running too slow or fast for them but if I went with a weighted pack on my back and with boots on I could walk as fast as I could like a tortoise and the children in their trainers and with no weight would have to try and keep up with me. It seemed to work in that we covered some miles with them jogging along and circling back for me if I was going too slow. So this was a re-run for James as I suspected that he would be stiff and sore after Day167’s epic achievement. He was and he came in boots so it was going to be even more of a challenge than planned but he wanted to do it, it was only 4.11 miles and I was carrying an additional 44lbs on my back. So off we set. It was another beautiful day so very close and warm and James was finding it difficult to keep up with boots on. But he did and with hard work and determination he kept up with me the whole way, even on the final hill back into the village. He had to dig deep but he found the reserve he was looking for and kept up brilliantly. Back at the flat we did 4 pull ups, 22 press ups and sit ups each before stretching off before retiring for baths and showers then back to the flat for lunch with me.

Heather came for lunch too and as I was preparing lunch she was practising some of her songs on the keyboard. It was beautiful to listen too and then it set me thinking. James plays some cool tunes on the piano, Heather sings beautifully on the piano and I have some organ tunes that I have managed to learn. Perhaps Margaret would like a concert!! I asked the children and they both loved the idea so after lunch I went to ask Margaret and she was ready for us there and then so keen was she, but I asked for a 30 minute preparatory period first. Margaret agreed and then hobbled back into her flat humming a wee tune with the excitement of the coming concert. I went back upstairs to be met by the children organising a running order. They were really keen and even performed a couple of rehearsals first. Then I lifted up the enormous keyboard and struggled down the stairs with it while the children carried down the stand and the various cables. Margaret let us in and we set up the keyboard in such a way as we were facing Margaret while she sat in her favourite chair. James was up first and played his three jazz and blues tunes beautifully and as he did so Margaret’s face lit up. She bobbed her head to the music, shrugged her shoulders alternating left to right in time to the music as a type of chair dance, wagged her index fingers left to right in synchronisation to the music and in accentuation to the rhythm of the tune and hummed along where she could. She looked across at me with that marvellous twinkle in her eye and the most enormous grin. Then the children played a duet on the piano and received a rousing round of applause in return. We were all having such fun. James, flushed red sat on the sofa near Margaret’s chair and Heather took her position. She sang three beautifully haunting modern tunes playing the cords in accompaniment to perfection. As she sang I struggled to keep dry eyes but then Margaret looked across at me with tears in her eyes as she tapped her foot to the music and gave the most heart warming smile while she shrugged her shoulders, pointed to Heather and nodded in an, ‘isn’t she wonderful’ sort of gesture. I nodded in agreement but then choked back the tears as both these two had made Margaret so happy. Then it was my turn. I could say that I crumbled under pressure. It wasn’t that bad but it certainly wasn’t note perfect but by the second tune I was warming up and managing to sound almost like a proper organist. Well……..almost!! And probably not soon enough for the children I finished my tunes. James played another one and Heather and James performed a delightful harmony to another song together. Margaret was still dancing to the music but by this stage I sensed that she was getting tired. So we bade our farewells and took the keyboard upstairs with Heather carrying up the three twixs given to the children as reward. Not that they needed it. They were both giggling as we entered my flat about how much fun that was, about how good it felt to make someone so happy, about how Margaret danced in her chair to the music, about how they both loved her because she was ‘so sweet!’ I was thrilled to see such exhilaration with what they had just done and if it was at all possible to love them more I certainly loved them more that day. I was on a journey to Beat a Beast that was threatening to take me away from the children so special moments so filled with happy memories which they can carry with them for a lifetime are so very special for me as they will be able to carry me, with them, in those memories, for a lifetime.

So I made tea . A Jamie Oliver special packed full of goodness. Prawn linguine with homemade garlic breadcrumbs, pasta, a fresh red chilli, anchovy fillets, ground cinnamon, saffron, prawns, garlic, passata, lemon, parmesan cheese and basil with a salad of fennel, celery hearts, fresh mint and a whole sliced lemon. The children seemed to love it and as we ate we talked about the idea of doing something similar again for Margaret but also maybe doing a concert for a care home or something similar. Both were very keen to do it so watch this space. One day we might just do that! Even better I scored the highest score out of 10 for my food: 9 out of 10 from each of them!! One day I will get 10s across the board. One day.

I also had the joy of posting a cheque off to Kingdom Bank for £30.40 as a result of Mrs Ali Stewart donating the proceeds from the sale of her postcards to the challenge. That was a lovely and very thoughtful donation in both time but also treasure. Thank you Ali so very much.

Today saw me cycle 3.34 miles along the River Teith through the Blair Drummond estate to the Safari Park. I was helping for the day to raise awareness of the plight of the vulture for the vulture awareness weekend. I always love going to Blair Drummond Safari Park because I always find the animals so passionately and beautifully looked after and the staff so jolly welcoming and determined to give me a good day as I volunteer for them. So I arrived at the Bird of Prey Centre and was met at the door by a Peregrine Falcon with his handler. This was one of my favourite birds as a boy so it was a joy to get up close and personal to one as I arrived. I met the team, handshakes and big smiles all round then I met the boss. Got given a little picker, a rake and a broom and within 3 minutes of arriving I was in the arena collecting litter, sweeping and raking to make it presentable for the audiences today. Some seemed a little shocked that I was set to work so quickly but the team were busy getting the birds ready for the day, this job needed doing and I was quite happy to have something useful to do so cracked on and worked up a sweat. Then I was joined by a full time volunteer and started to talk to her about the challenge as we worked. She was very kind and hugely supportive about what I was trying to achieve. I sensed that this was going to be a good day. Amey from the education team and volunteer coordinator had clearly briefed the boss as he wanted to hear about it and hatched a plan between Amey and himself to help me raise awareness about the challenge at the same time as raising awareness about the plight of the vulture. So after the briefing and all the final preparatory jobs done 8 of us gathered together for a quick cup of tea before the safari park opened. This was my chance to brief the team. I reached for some flyers and started with my story. This was up close and personal and had my audience captivated by the story. They were such a great team of people and they hung off of every word. I choked up as I mentioned my desire to turn this disease from a negative and hugely stressful time for the children into a positive and a source of inspiration for them. Then as I talked of the others I was inspiring and encouraging from the challenge I choked up further. I was really struggling to hold it together and as I looked around the room almost every eye was glistening and some chins were wobbling. This was a hugely emotional moment but I was so very glad of the opportunity because they could not have been more supportive. Then I discovered that I was to have 5 minutes at the start of every bird of prey demonstration to introduce the challenge to the audience linking it in to the 5th charity that I support, the World Wide Fund for Nature, the reason why and the Vulture awareness weekend. In between shows I could man the education table in the bird of prey centre with all the articles on display and encourage the children to handle and understand what all the items were and to engage with the very idea of the importance of conservation. And on that table I was also to have a stack of beat the beast challenge flyers for those who wanted to take away one for further reading on the challenge. The plan was brilliant. By the end of the day I must have briefed over 100 people on the challenge and in return received hugs, handshakes and heart felt thanks for sharing my story with them while also having the joy of engaging such young minds on the importance of conservation. It was a wonderful day and I am heading back to do it all again tomorrow. I am really looking forward to it. But first I had to cycle the 3.34 miles home.

Bathed and changed and chunky tomato sauce made with pasta I just hoped, as I ate, that some of all those who heard me come to join me on this journey or at the very least, some young minds were enthused by the very idea and importance of conservation and carry it forwards into the future.

So the challenge in numbers:

Days completed: 168
Total Miles Cycled: 910.07
Total Miles Walked: 921.71
Total Miles Run: 158.43
Total Miles Paddled: 7
Total Distance Cycled, Skied, Run and Rowed in the gym: 53.53
Total Distance Swum: 4,580 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.2,053.87
Total Height Gained under own steam: 86,025.59 feet
Mountains Climbed: 8
Hills Climbed: 32
Days of Voluntary Activity: 9.5
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: 14
Weight shifted: 10kgs lifted over 558metres or 11,160kgs moved over ½ a metre,
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 9
Press Ups: 761
Pull Ups: 26
Sit Ups: 1226
People Met and Hands Shaken: 543
Pots of tea shared: 33
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 3
Prayers joined in the street!: 4
Prayers joined in a Train Station: 1
Prayers joined in a Café: 2
Pills popped: 1020
Days until Driving Licence (lost to epilepsy) possibly Returned: 710
And most importantly – Money Raised as at Week 44 – £8,771

Considering I started this challenge 11 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 £54.48 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.

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 give me a cheery wave to show your support and encourage me on.

Thank you

Yours aye


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