Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Busy times behind the scenes

It's been a very busy and productive week with a fine balance of training and planning going on. On Tuesday I had the pleasure of meeting the new fundraising team at St. Benedict's Hospice.  Suzanne (pictured with me below) has been in the post for just over a month and it was Lizzie's 2nd week I believe. I've dealt with many amazing fundraising staff over the years and I could tell straight away that the new team spoke my kind of fundraising language.

I brought Suzanne and Lizzie up to date with the last 28 years of fundraising and how the around the world plans had changed slightly due to the pandemic. 

As I left the Hospice, I realised how different it felt at the "front of shop" without the bistro open and the volunteers helping out. I hear that the Hospice's retail shops have reopened and a return to a new normal of Hospice life will be seen soon.

As well as the hugely important care that the Hospice offers to many terminally ill patients there is another often unspoken of service that it offers. I'm referring, of course, to the chance it gives volunteers, like myself, to help in any way we can. Being able to fundraise, work in a hospice shop, serve in the bistro and the many other tasks that a volunteer undertakes is vitally important. What started out as a personal wish to repay a debt of gratitude that I felt for the care the hospice gave my Mam has grown into so much more. Being a volunteer fundraiser has played an important part in dealing with the grieving process for my parents. After talking to numerous other volunteers over the years, I have come to learn that I am not alone in that. 

Giving free time and expertise and making sacrifices for the benefit of others is the best thing I've ever done. It has given me a purpose when I felt there wasn't one. "What am I supposed to do now?" was the painful sentence that I cried out on March 8th 1995. That was the day that my Mam finally lost her battle with cancer and I felt very alone. I'd spent all of my life making my parents proud. For a short time, I felt that just because they weren't here in person that I would no longer be able to do that. How wrong I was. Everything I do is to continue to make them proud. For every pound that is raised for the hospice, I can't put a price on the personal joy and fulfilment at being a volunteer fundraiser. 

Ultimately, by putting one foot in front of the other and raising funds for the hospice, it is playing a small part in allowing the doctors, nurses and other staff to continue to help make people's final days, weeks, months or years comfortable, well supported and dignified. That is a thing that is never ever lost on me and I've seen the same pride and enthusiasm in the other volunteers that I have met at St. Benedict's Hospice over the years.

I shudder to think how my Mam's final days would have played out without the care and support from St. Benedict's Hospice. We are extremely fortunate to have an amazing hospice movement in this country. We must do everything that we can to make sure that these services continue to help terminally ill people and their families. 

As is often the case, I start writing a few sentences about St. Benedict's Hospice on this blog and end up with a very therapeutic few paragraphs. A huge thank you to Suzanne and Lizzie for their time yesterday. 

After I left the hospice I headed west to Langley Park. As well as being a kind sponsor of Run Geordie Run with a generous donation to St. Benedict's Hospice, Taylored-Fit Physio have offered to keep me in the greatest mechanical shape with regular treatment. The clinic is set in a beautiful old chapel building and it's absolutely beautiful inside with a really fresh modern look. There's a really good 3D walkthrough feature on their website. Click here if you'd like to see more.

I had an initial consultation last week with Mark the physio (pictured below). We mainly discussed my problematic right ankle. I've had an issue down there since last July with lots of swelling forming following any exercise. Having rarely been injured in 30 years of running, this is a strange one. My own opinion is that, since working from home, I've spent a lot of time barefoot or in slippers. I've spent very little time in proper footwear. Also, working long days with only a couple of days off over a 14 month period has seen me become as sedentary as I've ever been. It was no surprise therefore that Mark also observed that I had a very "tight back". 

Following the initial treatment last week I've been moving a lot freer, the ankle pain isn't as severe (but is still present) and Dave Fairlamb even commented on a much better posture in the gym. I think the work I'm doing with Dave has contributed to that also.

Fast forward to this week's visit to Taylored-Fit Physio and Mark's observation was that the swelling around my ankle wasn't as thick as a week ago. This was good news and that perhaps goes hand in hand with the "springier" runs that I've had this week. I actually felt like a runner during Monday's second session which was a 10k effort. In terms of my back, there had been a noticeable difference to my mobility during Saturday's Beach Bootcamp. There is still a lot of work to do but the signs are there that I'm heading in the right direction.

Further treatment on my ankle was given yesterday and I've got to say that the manipulation of my back felt very thorough. I feel very relieved and grateful to have this kind of support. A huge thank you to physio Mark for treatment so far. 

Being the inquisitive soul that I am I was very interested to hear about the other services that Taylored-Fit Physio offer. One of which is something I noticed on their website called "Craniosacral Therapy". At first glance, it looks to a lay person like myself as some kind of head massage. It transpires that there is so much more to it than that and it's used to treat many different conditions in adults, children and babies alike. I bet it would have been beneficial to my Mam who was a regular migraine sufferer. I really can't do the treatment justice on this blog but I suggest that you have a read here about it's benefits and the conditions it can help with.

Now onto Stage X support team news and my relationship with Taylored-Fit Physio is becoming the gift that keeps on giving. I'm very happy to report that they are going to be "lending" me sports therapist Jason "Stobbsy" Stobbs (pictured below), during my 250 mile effort around Northumberland this July. 

Regular readers will recognise Stobbsy from his time on the support team as I ran across Australia and Western Europe. As well as being a highly respected therapist, especially in the North East running community, he has always brought so much more during his time on the Run Geordie Run Support Team.

The Twitter hashtag #stobbsytales became a regular source of amusement in Australia initially. Some of my favourite #stobbsytales moments from Twitter are worth publishing here as a reminder to the camaraderie and merriment that Jason always brings to the team.

The low point in Australia came when Stobbsy and I had no internet connection for days in the outback. We would often read the details on the tins, bottles and packets that the food we were eating came in just  for something to do at meal times. "Ooh, Ooh, this tomato sauce was bottled in Darwin" and similar cries were often heard. 

There is even a Lego Stobbsy figure as part of the Run Geordie Run Motor Home set which support man Carlton made after the run across Australia. 

I don't get tired of saying another huge thank you. This time it's to Jason for once again offering his services on the support team. We've been through a lot of tough miles together already. This summer will be no different.

One final thing to close with today and that's the soon to be printed leaflet that I've been working on. This will be a tri-fold out leaflet that will be used to help spread the message of what Stage X is all about.

Leaflets have always been an important fundraising tool for me. There's a lot of info in them and I hope that they help to bring in even more funds for St. Benedict's Hospice.

That's all for now. There'll be an update on Sunday with (hopefully) news of a good week of training and also the next person who will be joining the support team.