This week has been by far the busiest thus far with Sunday rapidly approaching.
A couple of weeks ago, Dayna from Best Beginnings to ask if I would go to the Expo on Wednesday of this week to meet a “special visitor” and represent Best Beginnings. I was told to keep this confidential which was difficult as we had a full house of family over Easter.
An early start on Wednesday – up at 4.45 – onto the train at Wellington at 6:50 on the direct service to Euston. A mad dash from Euston to Excel to meet Dayna – a moment of panic as we could not find a way in but got to the Head’s Together stand where Emma gave me the official Heads Together vest. I also got to meet some other runners from other charities who all seemed very young!!
The reason for the secrecy became apparent at 1110 when Prince Harry came to meet the selected runners. We all shook hands and he talked about the importance of what we were all doing and how raising the profile of mental illness through Heads Together could help reduce the stigma. His apparent openness in interviews etc was reflected in the relaxed way in which he interacted with the team. He was with us for about 15 minutes and showed a great understanding of the training (and long runs) that had taken up our last few months.
He then went off to see the rest of the show and the press descended. I had a long interview with Channel Five who were very interested in my perception of how the openness of the younger members of the Royal family about mental health difficulties. Having suffered in the past from not being able to speak openly I said that I found their frankness very reassuring and inspiring. At least that is what I think I said!! You can judge for yourself whether you agree with this comment by watching the actual news report that was broadcast later that day. (Thanks to 5 News for sending me the link).
I then shared an interview with Dayna which was great fun as we were allowed to “ad lib” – I am not sure who this one was with but if I find it I shall add the link. Dayna and my wife Susan had also been able to capture some of the chat with Prince Harry in images and short video clips.
A quick coffee and then back to the stand for an interview with ITV news who again were very interested in my view of the Royals’ openness about mental health difficulties. The interview went on for about five minutes and again I cannot really recall what I talked about!!
After signing the well-wishing wall (directly below Harry’s signature) we looked around the rest of the exhibition – lots of friendly people so lots of talking and also managed to sign up to sponsor a guide dog puppy for the next two years!! We then headed home only to encounter the chaos caused by the lineside fire that closed Euston station. A very slow journey via Marylebone and Birmingham Moor Street where I could only sympathize for the platform full of passengers trying to get to London. The great positive was that I received the images from Dayna!!
We got home just before 10 and sat up to watch the ITV news – I was in the clip showing Prince Harry’s visit although I am not sure that the 8 second extract from my five minute conversation made a whole lot of sense. We also heard that there was a longer piece on 5 News so I sent a quick email to try and obtain the clip.
Thursday was a quieter day although lots of support came through the large number of donations that came on my fundraising site with generous donations from Mandy, Jonathan, Colin, Phil, Helen and Peter from my home Rotary club and also from National President Eve Conway. I also owe thanks to donors Brian and Carol and Jean and George who must be members of other clubs? A bit of a mystery! Late in the afternoon I did my last “plod” before Sunday around Minsterley including the big field.
Like many of the team I watched the BBC documentary at 9.00 – Mind Over Marathon – which was very moving and inspiring as they showed ten individuals with a history of mental illness embark on the challenge of completing the Marathon. Nick Knowles was very empathetic and supportive including enabling a bereaved wife and mother to actually go out on a run. An interview with Prince William revealed his full commitment and support for the Heads Together charity – inspirational.
I finally managed to get to a Shrewsbury Darwin meeting this morning wearing some of my running kit. I discovered that Mandy, our president has been keeping up with this blog (Hello Mandy). I was overwhelmed with the generosity of my fellow Rotarians and felt greatly supported by them as I updated them on this week.
Yesterday I had received a message from Dayna to say that Stephanie had managed to talk to the Shropshire Star and they would be publishing my story – and it is on Page 10 of today’s edition. I shall include the link once the article is available publically.
Then a new adventure – a Twitter account to enable me to update more frequently and to keep in touch with the rest of the team.
Two days to go – not getting nervous but still overwhelmed with all that happened this week. I hope that I can repay all the faith in me that I have met this week.
Hopefully next update after the finish – probably on Monday with a sore head together with other potentially sore bits!!