Day 183 has seen 56.58 miles cycled ascending 3183.4 feet, and seen 8.89 miles walked climbing 437.98 feet, my first ever singing lesson and 1.49 miles run, climbing 250.98 feet, before a strength training circuit as I explored the city of Edinburgh trying to find a new resolve in the face of tremendous disappointment as I suffered yet another seizure.

City Countryside
City Countryside

I have had 3 engagements around the city of Edinburgh over 3 days and with a reduced level of exercise was starting to feel a little lethargic and a little off balance. I was at times struggling cognitively and beginning to worry as to whether or not the beast was trying to come back. My next MRI is not until the 07th March which seems like a lifetime away with the recent warnings from my oncology team, about an aggressive resurgence of the tumour being quite possible, still ringing in my ears. So rather than resort to the bus pass and the brilliant bus system, I decided that here was an excellent opportunity to explore the cycle network that threads through the city on disused railway lines. It was good physical exercise and excellent cognitive function training as I was going to have to navigate myself around the city. On day one I was due to meet with Reel Time Events in the old Lothianburn golf club on the A702 Biggar Road. So I had to travel from the North of the city to the South of the city before then heading to the West of the city for a kitchen supper with friends. I had heard it said that there was good cycling to be had on the Water of Leith cycle way, so I thought that I would follow the water of Leith South before then ploughing up a long old hill climbing 366.47 feet in just 2.4 miles into the old Lothianburn golf club. After that I would wiggle my way across town to meet up with my friends for supper before then cycling home. That would be a good 25 mile round trip. So off I set nice and early to give myself time to complete the routes and turn up for supper on time and in good order. It was wet but not too cold and as, I ploughed along these wonderful cycle lanes, so I became lost in the wonderful diversity of environments through which I rode. Hedgerows and country arks and ghetto city festooned with graffiti and litter, but as I cycled I hummed tunes and smiled to people I passed who so nicely and perhaps surprisingly smiled back. I was smiling and so the world seemed to be smiling back. Then I hit the start of the Water of Leith walkway and the day deteriorated rapidly in the quality of the ride, but not in the quality of the exercise or the smile. Some of the walkway was cyclable but it did involve a lot of jumping off the bike and carrying it up steep steps then down steep steps to rejoin the path. So there was no opportunity to get into a cycling rhythm. But good exercise to be had with many hard climbs up many long and muddy flights of steps. Then large sections of the walkway were closed to a landslide. So more steps and reorientation to the diversionary routes. I had to be helped by kind walkers on several occasions as I did my tourist impression and tried to orientate my map to the ground in which I found myself. But onwards I persevered to hit another closed section of path and another set of muddy steps. Sadly these steps were my downfall and I slipped and tumbled with the bike back down these half dozen steps I had just ascended to land in a rather comical, extremely muddy, yet unhurt heap back at the bottom. The bike wasn’t broken. I wasn’t broken. Only my pride was dented but nobody saw except the nice gentleman who came to help me to my feet. So nobody saw except for him and the 30 odd Primary School pupils he had stood in a damp waterproofed cluster at the top of the steps and who were now pointing and giggling. I waved up at them with a smile and they waved back with delighted smiles and giggles as they poked and prodded each other. I thanked who I presumed to be their teacher then hoisted the bike onto my shoulders and tried again. Once at the top of the steps I realised that I was covered head to toe in mud and that there was no way I could turn up for supper like this. I sat outside a café with a Mocha as I poured over the map and did a time appreciation. I realised that I had lost such a lot of time with the diversions that I was just going to have to turn for home to shower and change and catch the bus to the supper in time. I called Reel Time Events, let them know that I would try again tomorrow, and then headed back out into the rain and for home.

Innocent Railway Tunnel
Innocent Railway Tunnel

So after 24.92 miles cycled and a good shower, I arrived at John and Caroline’s for a lovely evening which even involved a singing lesson. I had always wanted to learn to sing and John is very musical so offered to give me my first ever lesson. As the delicious smells of the tagine and couscous wafted in from the kitchen John had me limbering up my upper body and diaphragm before then helping me find my pitch. Eventually we found my range which seemed to place in and around a Baritone and then we tried some simple songs. I let myself go and was pleasantly surprised as to what came out of my mouth. I need a lot of practice, an awful lot, but at least I knew that I had a voice. Even one with quite nice tones according to John. I was thrilled.

The following day I was off to Reel Time Events again. This time by the direct route staying only on recognised, official cycle paths. It wasn’t raining anymore, so off I set for the 16.08 mile round trip. It was a wonderful ride which saw me cycling along practising my voice exercises as taught by John. Nobody was ahead of me and I was setting a good pace with a nice strong rhythm, so as I plunged further out of the city I sat up on my bike raised my chin and let rip. Faaaaahhhhhh lalalalalalaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa I sang. As I slowed to check a signpost coming up ahead of me a cyclist overtook me at some pace exclaiming, ‘Nice voice. Like it!!!!!’ before giving a thumbs up as he passed. I must have gone slightly red in the face but chuckled quietly to myself until I hit the Comiston Road hill. This was good exercise but I found a good rhythm and ploughed on still humming along more quietly to the rhythm. Breathing hard and humming hard I made it in good time, paid my fees and after a good chat with the wonderful team enjoyed the rewards of all that effort. A brilliant downhill run back into the city. So fast I went that there was no time for humming but plenty of opportunity for nervous chuckles as the wind whistled passed my ears, my eyes scanning ahead for any possible risks to me and pedestrians, while my fingers feathered the brake levers. Tea that evening was a smoked haddock and sweetcorn chowder with a rainbow salad and a yummy dressing and a raspberry slushy. Fussy to make but packed so full of herbs and fruits and vegetables; it is wonderfully tasty and so good for you, the combination courtesy of Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals book. 30 minutes. More like an hour, but time most definitely well spent.

On Thursday I was then off on another 15.58 mile round trip on the bike, ascending 897.64 feet as I travelled along the infamous Innocent Railway that cuts through the city of Edinburgh, under the world famous crags and through the most delightful marvels of Victorian engineering in the form of old tunnels. I was off to Fort Kinnaird to pick up some rather fancy envelopes that Allie and I had ordered and was very much looking forward to the ride. It was frosty, but not icy. Just cold. Very cold once the speed picked up on the bike, but the sun was out and so off I set. Only one slight navigational error where it turns out that some joker had turned the cycle path signs to point in a different direction and I had just followed the signs without question until I hit a dead end. I rubbed my forehead as I straddled my bike at the foot of this huge stone wall ahead of me and pulled the map out from my front and realised what had just happened. With a tut and a smile, thankful that I hadn’t just been ambushed as I could so easily have been, I got myself back on the route and, rather than bubble with anger, started singing again.

So those were three great days cycling that saw lots of administration done and wonderful meetings had so on Friday as I sat in my flat in Doune waiting for yet another B&Q delivery that never came and tackling emails, I started to review my progress after the last few months. Progress against the Brain Tumour was looking positive. The signs remained good but I was not out of the woods yet. The recent and very sad loss of a person of some standing to a brain tumour reminded me just how much uncertainty there remained around my possible healing and how there was still a very real chance that it could return. I had been told that I would need to make it to 5 years before the system can start to consider me healed and that I had to keep doing what I was doing to remain sitting firmly on the beast. That gave me 5 years to continue to try and improve the lives and life chances of so many more people through the Challenge, but I had a sense that enthusiasm was waning. Not from me, but from everybody else. So I phoned the bank. Since that post I wrote on the 30th September, in which I started to believe that I was well and truly healed, that there was a very real chance that God had made the impossible possible and given me life, I had a sense that enthusiasm was waning. That the post reach numbers were dropping. That despite the post I wrote on the 06th January 2017 appealing for help to raise as much money as possible for these 5 wonderful charities, the rate at which the money I was managing to raise was dropping. Page likes were creeping up but everything else seemed to be dropping off. I was right. I had 828 likes, 801 followers but only 20 sponsors.

The Salisbury Crags Beyond
The Salisbury Crags Beyond

I so very nearly threw in the towel. What’s the point if nobody can be bothered? I just didn’t seem to be able to convince anyone to commit to a standing order. I couldn’t even convince the charities I support to carry my story on their amazing social media presence. I had several nibbles from media organisations but none felt that they could help me. If people needed a new sofa on the never never they would find the time and the will, but today it felt as if I was a victim of a general malaise. A belief that Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got frustrated about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.

One of the most cutting remarks made to me months ago on this challenge was one that said that I had to stop trying to make people feel sorry for me. The truth is that I haven’t at any stage tried to play any mind games or tricks to get you to sponsor me. Instead, perhaps naively, I had hoped that by telling you the truth, warts and all, as I embarked on this journey to try and make the impossible possible and beat my beast of a brain tumour that had given me, at best, only 3 years to live and about which I was told couldn’t be shrunk, killed or cured, that I might have been able to encourage you to give me 15 minutes of your time to fill in a standing order and sponsor me even if it was for only £1.00 a month, and then to hold me in your conversations in order to encourage your friends and family to do so as well. Even if it was just the 828 who had liked my page I would be handing over £2,484 every quarter to the 5 charities rather than just £959. The average Facebook user has 338 Facebook friends. If they could be encouraged to sponsor me too we could be raising 828 page followers x 338 friends = 279,864 x 3 months = £839,592 per quarter. Every single penny is accounted for. Webb and Wallace Accountants in Doune are doing all the accounting for free. The Kingdom Bank do all their banking for free and helped me to set up as an unincorporated Charitable Association with the articles of association and a constitution in order to ensure that every penny raised is tax free. The accountants and a man in the village who had previously founded a charity formed the management board who all give of their time for free. The flyers were printed for free by a printer in Fife. The Bike Shop in Callander keeps my bike on the road for free. Key Facilities Management in Doune are hosting my website for free. The website is being managed by mhcreations in Forres for free. The bank is even paying interest into the Beat the Beat Challenge account and I take not a single penny for costs. Any costs incurred by me are covered by my War Disablement Pension and military half pension. So unlike Just Giving, or Virgin Money or any other fundraising or crowdfunding website, there are absolutely no costs. None whatsoever. Every single penny is accounted for and goes to the 5 charities. I was determined to ensure that that was the case. It was hard work to get set up but I was determined to make it so because to sponsor me you have to complete a standing order through your own bank, I do not therefore in any way have access to any of your personal details. I will NOT cold call you to ask you to increase the amount you sponsor me for. I will NOT leaflet you or fill up your email Inbox. I have been nothing but honest and laid my very future at your feet in order to try and improve the lives and life chances of as many people as I can, in as many ways as I can, in as many places as I can, for as long as ever I can. So why can I not encourage you to sponsor me? If you have any suggestions as to what I need to do or know of someone who could help me to break through the lethargy and encourage the completion of standing orders in order to truly improve the lives and life chances of so many more people, do please get in touch.

But this isn’t the end of the challenge. Far from it. It is the beginning of the new challenge. To see how many people I can improve the lives and life chances of through a transformation of lifestyles. I already have two volunteers who have started to follow my example of physical exercise and eating correctly in order to improve their own quality of life, and they are willing to tell their stories if they manage to achieve a successful transformation which I am sure they will. The NHS is already struggling under the burden of our increasing ill health. Cancer is starting to ravage through families and groups of friends and there is so much I can try and do to help beat cancer sooner, to help protect the lives and life chances of friends and family. So don’t sponsor me to beat the beast. Instead sponsor me to encourage me to keep going. To encourage so many others to beat their own beasts through my own example. But I need your help and encouragement to keep doing it. If all those who like my Facebook page could give me just 15 minutes of their time to fill in a standing order for just £1.00 a month and encourage their friends to do the same, by the end of this current quarter we could be raising an additional £279,864. That is an additional £55,972.80 for each of the 5 charities so directly helping to improve the lives and life chances of so many others. If we can start to raise those sums of money, then we will start to turn heads and, like a performer in the street, we will start to pull in more people to follow your example and encourage me on with a standing order for £1.00 per month. The financial possibilities are enormous and we can truly start to make a difference and, even better, for just £1.00 a month and 15 minutes of your time you get a peace of mind as you walk down the street. You can smile knowing that you are doing all you can to help improve the lives and life chances of not only your friends and family, but of all those that you pass. You don’t need to walk or bike or run long distances to do it. Let me do all that for you. Let me help you to feel so good about yourself. Just fill in the standing order form found on my website and send it away, or complete an electronic standing order form through your own internet banking with the details available on my website, to encourage me to keep going while watching the sum we jointly raise grow exponentially.

As I was writing this post I started biting my cheeks, my lips and my tongue. It was involuntarily and jolly painful and there seemed to be nothing that I could do to stop it. As I tried, so the angry hive of bees started to work their way up my left arm and towards my neck. This was a massive wake up call. I had had a good demanding 3 days and the bitter disappointment of so few sponsors and the waning interest started to bite. I had made a veggie pick and mix bag for tea but knew that this was a seizure coming on so I needed to walk. I grabbed my pick and mix bag and headed out into the dark night. A brisk wind was blowing with a light slushy snow but I had to walk. I put on my hat, did up my zips and tugged up my collar. Put on my gloves and strode out to head over the northern point of the breakwater. It was possibly the most remote point of the city and as I walked along the white gravelly path I started to question the sense in this route selection. But I knew that right now I needed God’s help so I prayed, prayed hard and prayed aloud as I walked. I pleaded the Lord’s prayer. I pleaded with God to be set free from evil and the evil of this disease. At times I found myself whimpering against the ferocious march of the bees towards my head and yelping like a puppy as I bit completely involuntarily and hard down on my tongue, cheeks and lips. I prayed and prayed and then something told me to start eating. I dug out my veggie pick and mix bag, took off my gloves and started to eat. I had to guess what each piece of fruit and vegetable was as I pulled it out of the bag in the dark. The tenderstem broccoli and carrots were easy from their shape and texture but with a mouth tender and scarred from the incessant biting I struggled to tell cherry tomato from red grape. But as I walked and ate, so the seizure started to dissipate. I completed the 1.65 miles and felt better but tried to talk and couldn’t so I kept walking and did the route again and brisker. I finished my bag and as I got to a bin tried to put it in the bin but struggled to coordinate the action. I found myself in a half squat focused so very hard on trying to get the empty food bag into the bin opening. I made it eventually and with this small, so very small victory under my belt, walked home grinning like a Cheshire cat. I had beaten it and it only took 3.3 miles to do so.


I possibly have as long as 5 years to push before I can be declared fit for work. I am rubbish at football, at rugby, at cricket, at any big sport. I can’t act, I can’t sing and I can’t dance, and I have no awards for gallantry. I am not famous in any way. If I was, I am sure that I would have been able to secure the column inches needed to make my Challenge a rip-roaring success because the story is quite incredible. I have no team to advise and guide me, and I clearly do not have that star quality that would attract the media interest I need to truly make a difference. I don’t have that salesman’s killer instinct needed to seal the deal and secure some sponsorship. I am just a nice guy trying to make the best of a poor hand. I may be a little verbose, but through the still lingering fog of treatment and ever present fog of the anti-seizure medication, I am astounded that I can make any sense at all. Please help me to disprove the myth that nice guys always finish last. I have only ever been an also ran. Help me to be so much more for the benefit of so many more people. Please encourage me not to give up and to carry on by sponsoring me and encouraging your friends and family to do the same.

On Saturday afternoon I took my daughter to watch Evita in the Playhouse in Edinburgh. It was a wonderful performance that we both enjoyed enormously but as we hit the scene at which Eva bemoaned how much there was left to be done for the poor, the starving, the disadvantaged people of Argentina, from her death bed, how she insisted on continuing to work even though she knew that it would kill her, the story hit home. There was such a strong parallel in this scene that it gripped me hard and filled me so full of a resolve to keep fighting no matter what, because I cannot and will not spend these next 5 years as another also ran.

My daughter had to head home ahead of me to meet up with a friend and left me with her packed tea. A tuna mayonnaise sandwich with the veggie pick and mix bag and a flapjack. I nearly threw it away but realised that I could give it to one of the poor and homeless people that tear at my soul each and every day that I see them. So I took it with me on the bus to the station and sure enough, on disembarking on Princess Street, as I turned for the station, there was a homeless man on this bitterly cold and wet late afternoon. I stopped by him. Pulled out the packed tea from my pocket and gave it to him while offering him God’s blessing. His face changed from one of darkness to one of light instantly. He could not have been more grateful and thankful. I had made his night so after laying my hand gently on his shoulder, looking him in the eyes and reassuring him that he truly does matter I lifted my bags and headed for the train with this gentleman’s gratitude calling after me as I walked.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got frustrated about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.

Please do not be everybody or a nobody. Help me to be, for the first time in my life, a somebody who can truly make a difference.

Thank you

Yours aye

Deo Juvante

Dear God:
Please untie the knots
that are in my mind,
my heart and my life.
Remove the have nots,
the can nots and the do nots
that I have in my mind.
Erase the will nots,
may nots,
might nots that may find
a home in my heart.
Release me from the could nots,
would nots and
should nots that obstruct my life.
And most of all,
Dear God,
I ask that you remove from my mind,
my heart and my life all of the ‘am nots’
that I have allowed to hold me back,
especially the thought
that I am not good enough.
Author Unknown

The challenge in numbers since the start on 20th August 2015

Years spent Beating the Beast: 1.5
Months spent Beating the Beast: 18
Weeks spent Beating the Beast: 72
Days of official challenge activity completed: 182
Total Miles Cycled: 1114.17 (Edinburgh to Budapest Hungary)
Total Miles Walked: 1128.19 (Edinburgh to Vilnius Lithuania)
Total Miles Run: 206.8 (Edinburgh to Drogheda in Ireland)
Total Miles Paddled: 7
Total Distance Cycled, Skied, Run and Rowed in the gym: 97.63 miles (Edinburgh to Fort William)
Total Distance Swum: 5,370 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam: 2,559.09 (The equivalent of travelling from Edinburgh to Nanavut in Canada)
Total Height Gained under own steam: 107,734.34 feet (Above the Troposphere)
Mountains Climbed: 8
Hills Climbed: 35
Days of Voluntary Activity: 11.5
Organ tunes learnt and performed: 5
Salmon Caught: 0!
Bats Found:4!
Curling Matches played in: 8
Curling stones placed on the button (the centre of the target): 3
Weight Training Sessions: 40
Weight shifted: 10kgs lifted over 3,522 metres or 36,640kgs moved over a metre,
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 14
Press Ups: 2,000
Pull Ups: 81
Sit Ups: 4,811
People Met and Hands Shaken: 635
Pots of tea shared: 41
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: 1,421
Days until Driving Licence (lost to epilepsy) possibly Returned: 730

Join 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