Sunday 20 June 2010

The Grant Edwards Run Geordie Run Plaster Cast

Sponsorship of my plaster cast brought additional funds to St Benedict's Hospice and The Children's Foundation 2 weeks ago. It is, of course, now known as "The Grant Edwards Run Geordie Run Plaster Cast".

But who is Grant Edwards and who if the sponsor behind the cast? It is more significant to Run Geordie Run and the run across the USA than you may initially think. 

The sponsor is Shelli Mayfield and she lives in North Carolina, USA. It's a long old way from Tyneside but that hasn't stopped her from having a real affection for Geordies after she met one (Grant Edwards) some years ago. I'll let Shelli explain.

"I don’t remember when I met Grant exactly. It feels like I have known him my whole life. We met thru a mutual work acquaintance and just clicked instantly. It was like we’d always known each other. When I came to England last summer to attend Oxford, he treated me like I was part of his family... like I was his sister. He took it upon himself to drive from Newcastle to Oxford more than once in the month I was there to check on me, make sure I had everything I needed and that I was being treated up to his standards. That really cemented our friendship and my opinion of Geordies into what it is today.

While I found the people of England to be courteous on a pretty consistent basis, the Geordies I have met take that to a whole new level. They are the friendliest bunch of people I know. Most would do anything they could to help another (you are a prime example of that). Geordies are loyal; just watching their devotion to NUFC even through their demotion to the Championship. As a diehard Red Sox fan, I can completely relate to that type of devotion. My team went 86 years between World Series Championships but we hung in there and filled Fenway Park faithfully. This is why Grant and I exchanged NUFC and Red Sox gear. If you’re going to be a fan of either of those teams, you have to love them blindly and fiercely.

I also love your dialect. When I was wearing his NUFC jersey through the streets of Oxford, I got some negative comments, especially when they realized I was an American. They would begin to try to convince me I was being misled and I would shut them up by saying, (in my sweetest Southern accent which they all loved) “When you talk it sounds like you have a mouthful of gravel but when a Geordie speaks it sounds like music to my ears.”

I could go on and on about why Geordies are special to me. Geordies in England are a lot like people from the Southeastern part of the USA where I am from. We catch a lot of flak from the rest of our country about our dialect and our customs because they don’t understand them. We are viewed as perhaps less intelligent than most and certainly less refined. The reality is we are a sector of people that love deeply, believe in family and hard-work and traditions. We cling to our roots with pride and could care less whether the rest of the country approves. We speak our dialect with pride and when daunted we smile sweetly and refuse to argue with those we deem not worth the explanation. We are, in fact, some of the most well educated in our country but we don’t flaunt it and therefore it isn’t well known.

He (Grant, pictured above with Shelli) reminded me of my hard-headed, full of male pride brothers at that moment and I loved him for it. I admire his culture and language and he loves me for that. He told me recently I was now a hybrid Geordie… half Southern American, half Geordie. I consider that to be one of the best compliments ever.".

The sponsoring of my cast and subsequent dedication to Grant, by Shelli, is quite fantastic really. The bond between Shelli and Grant and thus Tyneside and USA is one I'll be going all out to cement further during my 3100 mile journey in 2011. 

Thanks again to Shelli Mayfield for sponsoring The Grant Edwards Run Geordie Run Plaster Cast.