Yesterday, I and about 60 of my collagues congregated at beautiful Binswood Hall in the delightful town of Leamington Spa to set off on our charity walk in aid of one of our own.
Our colleague, Jo, is being treated for Leukaemia and the hospital where she is being treated is trying to raise funds for a new radiotherapy unit so that they can treat more people like Jo in their local town rather than having to send them away to other towns for their treatment. They need around £200,000 to complete their fundraising.
We all had our safety briefing, and picked up our hi-visibility vests. Most of us were armed with flashlights or head torches of one kind or another, and then it was time for a quick photoshoot before the bus came to take us to our starting point at Warwick Castle.
The lady in pink that you can just see right in the middle is Jo, who travelled up to Binswood Hall to see us all off!
There was a real party atmoshere with fancy dress, glow-sticks, face paint and more selfies than you can shake a (selfie) stick at!
The walk itself took us over a variety of terrains, through towns and housing estates, along bridlepaths, forest tracks, over farmland and finally along a canal, and we were blessed with the weather - it was dry and mild - absolutely perfect for the event. I had a fleece in my rucksack and it stayed there for the whole walk! Also, because we've had a few dry days beforehand, the fields and tracks that we were walking over, which could have been quagmires, weren't at all bad and were easily traversible (with one notable exception!)
The whole walk took us about five and a half hours. We set off at just after 6 pm, and the first walkers started appearing back at Binswood hall about 11 pm. My little group of people were somewhere around the middle of the pack and eventually limped and stumbled into the place around 11.30pm where we were met with Binswood's wonderful catering staff bearing tea and bacon butties!
I spent most of the walk alongside a lady called Julie who I know well, and work quite closely with and we were both so elated when we finally reached the finishing point!
I knew my shoes were good and comfortable but I was amazed at how well they stood up to the task. Yes my feet ached a little bit by the end, and both my big toes were throbbing like a bitch because I know I have a touch of arthritis in both of them, but thanks to my wonderful shoes there was not a blister to be found. Thanks Sketchers ... your shoes are MAGIC!!! Remember what I said about the 'one notable exception' above ...
Thirteen miles of walking, and this is the result of one ten-foot mud-puddle in a narrow forest track!!
As I had arranged to stay overnight at Binswood Hall, I didn't have far to go before I could fall into bed. And what a bed! It definitely matches Binswood's grandeur, I almost felt guilty about getting in it and messing it up!
Finally, after my night in that epic bed, I wandered upstairs for an equally epic breakfast. For once, I felt no guilt for tucking into my wonderful full english, and it was just what I needed to set me up for the train journey home. :)
So yes, a fantastic day. I feel really proud and really humbled about how my organisation has come together and got behind someone in need, and I feel equally delighted that I've been able to be a small part of it.
Altogether, our fundraising efforts including this walk have raised around £10,000 so far, and with a couple more events planned, we're hoping to take it past £15,000 by the end of March.