Lady Elsie, Captain Nelson, patrons, ladies and gentlemen, friends, colleagues and sponsors, thank you all for your attendance today.
My name, for those of you who don’t know, is Mark Allison and I am an volunteer fundraiser for The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children’s Foundation.
I’m thrilled to be able to share the details with you of a most momentous fundraising adventure to be undertaken by myself, using the Run Geordie Run brand, in 2016.
For over 500 years Trinity House has served the local community and beyond with many good charitable deeds. I can’t think of a more appropriate setting, steeped in so much history and tradition, in which to share my plans with you today.
I’d just like to take a moment to remind everybody how I came to be standing here today. How is it that an ordinary Geordie in the street is standing in such a grand old place addressing a Lady, a Captain and so many esteemed guests?
Had things have worked out differently for my family then I may not have been standing in front of you at all today.
When my parents were taken from me when I was just a young man I could have done 1 of 2 things. I could have let the grief consume me and tear me apart (I must admit that it nearly did) or I could do something positive and put to good use the debt of gratitude I feel to local charities for at least trying to help my parents and for making their final days battling cancer as comfortable and dignified as possible.
Fortunately, I chose the latter option and it has helped to ease the burden of grief that I have carried with me every day since I lost my parents. It is a most terrible dark feeling that is as painful in my heart right now as it was all of those years ago.
Thankfully, through fundraising, I have found a way to control and even some days numb the pain. There is no doubt in my mind that raising funds for such good causes as The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children’s Foundation has been as beneficial to me as it has to them and the beneficiaries of their charitable good deeds.
Ladies and gentlemen, I do realise that my story is no different to many other peoples’ in this room today or in the street outside. We have all lost loved ones. It’s what we do, in their memory, for the greater good of others that is so very important.
It was not long after I returned from finishing the run across Australia in January this year that I had a very vivid dream. I could see myself running from John O’Groats to Lands End as I did in 2007. I could then see myself running from California to New York as I did in 2011. The dream then turned into a nightmare as I was reminded of the traumatic and painful times during the run across Australia.
I’m not sure if it was the same dream or a subsequent one later that night but I could see a map of the planet with lines drawn across it in thick black pen. Those lines just so happened to be the places that I’d ran; top to bottom of the UK, across the USA and across Australia. What a shame, I thought, that there were parts of the map with no lines on at all.
It was at that moment in my deep sleep that I knew where my next run would be. With so many blank spaces on the map there was so many possibilities. I noticed that Europe had no line across it. Asia had no line across it. Japan had no line across it. New Zealand had no line across it. So many places to choose where to run next. Where could I choose? Where could I choose?
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my immense pleasure to tell you exactly where in the world I have chosen to run next.
I’d like to finish proceedings by thanking Captain Nelson and the staff of Trinity House for letting us use their fantastic premises.
Thank you also to my sponsors, Cherry Active, Chapman Ventilation, SOS Group, Virgin Money and Sport Newcastle, without whom, there would be no run in 2016 to tell you about. Their support and generosity is as critical to the success of the 2016 segment.
Lady Elsie, Captain Nelson, patrons, ladies and gentlemen, friends, colleagues and sponsors, thank you all for listening and sharing in this particular part of the journey.