Wow – it’s over!
The ‘Channel to Channel’ trip started on the 20th August on the Bristol Channel side of England and finished on Saturday 27th August at one of the piers jutting out in to the tidal Thames around Chelsea – about as far as I could go without getting in to trouble.
The trip wasn’t a ‘first’ and most certainly wasn’t an attempt at a speed record. The whole idea was to raise awareness of the battles faced by kids with brain injuries and support the charity that helps them, the Children’s Trust.
You can find out a little more about what it’s like to live with brain injuries and why I support the Children’s Trust here.
Last year I cycled from London to Paris to support the Children’s Trust. The whole trip turned in to a bit of a farce worthy of depiction in a ‘Carry On’ style movie, but it did teach me some valuable lessons about pulling together an event for charity; the main lesson learned being that I needed to get the ball rolling on something that was far more visible to a UK audience and something that people could, if they wanted to, easily join in with – hence crossing England through, or near to, some of the busiest areas in the country.
The problem with rivers and canals is that they are no longer the focal points of towns and cities. Tarmac roads and HGV’s have totally diminished the importance of waterways so, with a few exceptions, the waterways are becoming neglected backwaters hidden from view only to be used by anglers sitting and waiting for another minnow to attack their shrivelled maggot or people enjoying the peaceful serenity of a canal cruise.
But, I had a secret weapon. I was about to unleash something on the waterworld that no-one had ever seen or experienced before… enter the Shanks girls… and Osborn!
The Shanks sisters and Osborn are all the offspring of Mum Vikie and they’re brilliant. A proud crowd who are exceedingly loud the whole gang came with me as my support crew. Their job was to forge ahead of me to the nearest town, city, marina or whatever they could find rattling collection tins and telling as many people as they could about the work of the Children’s Trust and what it’s like living with a brain injury – and they know exactly what it’s like because two of their number have cerebral palsy.
At any one time two of the party would cycle alongside me, as far as was possible, on the tow path to make sure that paddlers had help negotiating locks, make sure that we were fed and watered and to be on hand to talk to people on the bank about what we were doing and why.
Introducing the Shanks gang: Vikie (aged – as if I’m going to write it down!), Jamie-Jodie (aged 20), Kacie-Kimie (aged 17 ‘nearly 18′), Lorie -Lanie and Mirie-Marie (aged 16 – yep, twins!), Nikita-Nina (aged 14), Osborn-Oran (aged 12) and Pippa (aged 10 going on 20 – I’m sure she’s Jamies twin!)
Was the week a success? Most definately! Through the trip we managed to talk to scores of people about the work of the Children’s Trust, we generated a huge amount of press and media interest resulting in newspaper and magazine coverage as well as radio interviews, all talking about the work of the Children’s Trust and we managed to put a few pennies in to the Children’s Trust coffers.
So much happened that I can’t summarise the whole week in one entry, so I’m about to write up the highlights of each day in ‘diary’ format under the ‘Channel to Channel’ blog so keep an eye out for details of the thrils, spills and the amazing people that we met along the way when I was joined by friends old and new as we all teamed up to raise awareness of the Children’s Trust.
The Children’s Trust make sure that they squeeze every bit that they possibly can out of every penny that goes in to their coffers and it’s still not to late to donate to help them with their essential work. You can donate on line through Just Giving
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