Busy, busy, busy!

Right then, what's next on Steve's Big List of things to do? Well to start off I've got to walk to school next week. Shinfield St Mary's Junior School to be precise. Not much of a challenge in itself, seeing as I live about 30 yards away from it's front door. Maybe I should tell you that we are starting outside Robert Piggott School, then going via Polehamton CofE Junior School, Willowbank Junior, Emmbrook, St Pauls CofE, Westende School, Oaklands, Gorse Ride, and then Shinfield St Mary's, or to put it another way, we'll be walking past every Junior School in Wokingham Council's area, a total of 23.6 miles (38km). I ought to mention that we will be starting at midnight, and hoping to finish at 7:30a.m. on the 8th of April. (That's the last day of term.) We'll be in time to join the kids in the breakfast club for toast and a coffee. It's those kids we're raising money for after all. You may have noticed by all the "we", "we'll" and "we are" that I've used, that I'm not doing this alone. I shall be walking through the streets of Reading and Wokingham accompanied by a 6' tall duck. No I have not gone mad or changed my name to Elwood P. Dowd, so don't panic. Anyway Elwood's friend was a rabbit called Harvey, mine is a duck called Janine! (I'd better point out that I in no way represent any of the schools above, and they do not all officially endorse the walk) << legal bit!
Moving quickly on to June now, and also moving North. To a lump of rock called Ben Nevis. Not any old lump of rock I might add, Ben is the tallest lump of rock in the UK, and I've just volunteered to climb it as part of a team led by someone in a wheelchair, I kid you not. Why should mountains be for us so called 'able' people. What makes someone in a wheelchair so different to the rest of us? Answer... Nothing other than the way other people see them. Just take Dick and Rick Hoyt for example, a father and son team who run marathons, and take part in Iron Man triathlons. Take a look at 'Team Hoyt' in action here.
So, like I said, there is no difference. Soon after I saw this film I was told about an event held in Scotland in 2008 where eight teams made history by making the first ever wheelchair user led ascent of Ben Nevis. The event was an inspirational success raising over £100,000 to fund work campaigning with and supporting disabled people. Well wouldn't you know it, it's happening again this year. The Bowmore Ben Nevis Challenge 2011 has now officially launched and this year it will give even more people the opportunity to take on this tremendous challenge. Guided by ex-SAS officer and TV Presenter Ken Hames, the mastermind behind the original event, twelve teams of six will be led by disabled people with a variety of impairments.  The leaders will navigate and direct their team to the summit and in the process help beat 2008’s fundraising total of £100,000. I'm proud to say that I'm going to be a part of this event and you can sponsor me here. The Bowmore Ben Nevis Challenge is not just about raising valuable funds. It will challenge me and everyone else participating in the event and we hope it will challenge people’s expectations of what is possible. Scotland has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the UK and disabled people, just like non-disabled people want the opportunity to explore and enjoy every part of the country, an opportunity which they are not always given. If I can do my bit to help that happen then I'll be a happy bunny. Maybe you are a Medic or First Aider and want to join in too, take a look here as I think the challenge team are still after some more volunteers. 
Then I move towards the end of the year (because I have not fixed a date yet) and my Help for Heroes trek through Europe. I'll be starting in Paris at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, walking North to Ypres and the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, heading home then to Westminster Abbey and the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. I hope to finish this in time for the 2 minute silence on 11th November. So fingers crossed. More about this here
Well that should keep me busy for a while, now all I have to do is get people to part with their 'hard earned' or maybe donate a ferry ticket as I'm not swimming from Oostende to Ramsgate for nobody. Hero or not! How much is it to gt to Paris these days? Even getting to Ben Nevis is going to cost a bit, flying has to be better than a train/ bus combo (hint hint) anyway, I'm off now to pack up my living room and kitchen, the chimney is going tomorrow. Totally irrelevant I know, but a good place to finish don't you think?


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