Last year's big run from John O'Groats to Lands End raised over £34,000 for St. Benedict's Hospice. Just a month before I set off on that epic, a group of Northern Rock staff, headed by Mark Fleming (pictured on the left with me on day 10), did a bike ride in Northumberland and raised £47,000 for The Northern Brainwave Appeal!!!! I'm sure you'll agree that the amount raised is astonishing and might I say fully deserved!
Now the thing is, Mark has been reminding me of this fact on an almost daily basis. To say the words "Charity" and "Hero" are commonplace in our office is a massive understatement. It's all good banter though. However, the fact remains that I got upstaged last year in the fundraising stakes.
Not one to rest on his laurels he decided to go one better at the derby match last weekend. He decided to upstage my lap of honour at the Aston Villa match when his mate Jan won a hospitality package in a competition. After a tour of the ground he met Peter Beardsley, then had a cuppa with Kevin Keegan and Terry Mac in the manager's office. Then a pre match meal followed with Sir Bobby, Chris Mort, Mike Ashley, Niall Quinn and Bob Murray (!!!!). His seat for the match was right in front of Chris Mort and Mike Ashley and he was subsequently seen by millions on Sky TV celebrating the first goal (pictured). His (and all of our) day was complete when we stuffed the sad mackems 2 - 0. Ever since Sunday, people have been listening in total amazement as to how Mark and his friends were treated by the club. Once again, they've scored big time in the PR stakes; treating a bunch of working class lads to a quite remarkable day. And a day, I'm sure, they'll never forget. And one Mark will undoubtedly never let us forget! I dread to think how he is going to upstage my run across the USA in 2011!