Sunday, October 12, 2008

Keeping fast company.


When we first moved to Somerset in 1985 Ian Botham was just resigning from the Somerset cricket team. He was a test team cricketer and had been a Test team captain. He holds the Test record of the highest number of wickets but was always controversial. Once he was hit in the mouth with the ball but just spat out some teeth and carried on. He had a period when his behaviour was not good and the tabloids had a field day.

Whilst a cricketer at Taunton he broke a bone in his foot and visiting Musgrove hospital he happened upon some sick children and learnt they had leukaemia and were not expected to live. He and his wife Kathy gave a party for these children and were devastated at their next party to find none of them had survived. They started to raise money to make the children’s last days as happy as possible and later decided to raise money to try to find a cure – hence Leukaemia Research and Ian started walking, his first: 900 miles from Land’s End to John ‘o Groats. He has been walking ever since and has raised more than 12 million pounds. In the eighties there was a 20% chance of surviving now there is an 86% chance and Sir Ian {the Queen knighted him for his sustained work for charity) has declared that he will keep walking until a cure is found.

Friday dawned bright and sunny. We were given t -shirts and told to be at Taunton cricket club at 11am to register and then the walk would start at 12 noon. We were there by 10am as we feared parking would be difficult so were the first to arrive. We were offered a banana, a healthy nutty crunch bar and a bottle of water. I asked a nice looking woman what was the estimated time of our return, after the walk.

‘Well, Ian does it in an hour.’ she said cheerfully. Actually she was Lady Katherine – Ian’s charming wife.

We sat in the sun for a while but it was quite chilly so we warmed up in the car with a crossword.

Ian from early morning was doing interviews with press, TV and radio;, visiting Musgrove Hospital and Marks and Spencer’s - the donors of our goodies ( hence the perfect bananas)so we eventually left at1pm. He strode in the field, with his retinue and without breaking step whirled off on the walk.

Typically I was up a flight of stairs in order to get a shot of him so had to run (I never run) to catch up with the stream of walkers.

The pace was unbelievable and I realised if I wanted to keep up I should concentrate

like mad not look round, not speak and not stop. So my camera, my goodies and my phone remained untouched in my rucksack throughout. The reason I was frantic to keep up was the directions were so complicated I knew I would get lost on my own.

We hurried alongside a river through pleasant countryside unfamiliar to me. A man with two black spaniels overtook me and his fleece said he had 2 new knees. Even when he stopped to pick up his dog poo, he still overtook me. I did wonder if his knees were motorised. There was one brave man with a hefty toddler on his back and still there at the end of the walk. Two ladies in front of me had a dear little puppy with such short legs they carried it most of the way. At last we were half way and now walked beside a canal where people would wave and say ‘Well done!’

I caught up with a great- grand mother and we – ever so slightly slowed the pace so we could talk. Her son had been diagnosed with leukaemia in his fifties but was surviving with the help of white blood cells from his sister. We started to relax and enjoy the walk especially when we were told we were almost there. In fact we did 4 miles in an hour an ten minutes. That’s an hour and ten minutes. We weren’t the last – not that that mattered a damn, and the icing on the cake was when Sir Ian Botham’s mother hung a medal round our necks.

It’s now Sunday and I can just about move normally again. I’m so glad I did it but that’s the end of the fast lane for me.


Kim Ayres said...

Wonderful achievement! Well done Pat :)

Anonymous said...

Bravo !!!
I donated my person for of the other one cause ,but also indirectly for leukaemia !
By donations (sang, plaquettes, plasma, moƫlle osseuse) ,the reason would be long to explain !
I am of a very specific group That only a specialist and I even could explain to you !
But I am modest and discrete !
This group is HLA B27 (Human Lymphocyte Antigen).

, (If you wish that by a link of your choice "I post the just cause "
I am ready !)

With a lot of friendship

sablonneuse said...

That was a pretty good pace, Pat. When I was able to go to the gym I was very pleased if I managed to do one mile in less than 20 minutes: four would have been a very tall order!

PI said...

Kim: thank you dear.

Crabtree: I'm sorry to hear you have a problem and hope it gets better.
Everybody is feeling the pinch now with the financial crisis and I know we all have our own charities we support. As my son says not everybody feels as passionately about it as you do. Still it does no harm to raise awareness I think. Thank you for your good wishes.

Kristi Mantoni said...

It sounds like you had a great time...even at the fast pace.

Eryl Shields said...

Oh Pat, I'm so flooded with delight that you not only did the walk, but in such good time: fantastic. I'm so pleased for you , and glad to hear you are beginning to move normally again. Well done that girl!

Such a good story, too, about Sir Ian and how he came to find his cause.

PI said...

kristi: in retrospect it was a great experience but not one I feel I should repeat necessarily:)

Eryl: just call me the deluge! He certainly was a typical 'bad boy makes good' and lucky his wife stuck with him - she's smashing!

PI said...

Sandy: Rose the lady I made friends with goes to the gym and said she had never done that pace before over such a distance.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Brava, Brava, Brava, my dear and my Heartiest Congratulations on a Job Well Done!

I can understand what a good feeling it had to be to do that walk and complete it, too! And knowing you were walking for such a worthy cause!
Sir Ian is quite the gentleman, isn't he? To have raised that much money....WOW! Brovo to him, too!

savannah said...

well done, sugar! hats off to you and your fellow walkers! xoxo

Natasha said...

Pi: Thats an amazing pace at that distance.Congrats! I've loved every aspect of your blog and would like to invite you to join us at, a website for women in their fifties, who believe in embracing transitions and change and making the most of our individualities and our lives. Do check us out!

PI said...

Naomi: thank you. I shan't make a habit of it:) I think Ian would be pleased to be called a gentleman by an American lady.

Savannah: thank you.

Natasha: thank you for that and for the invitation. I have visited and know it is something I would enjoy being associated with but for the moment will have to take a rain check. My blog is taking more and more time - that and visiting other blogs so that for almost a month I haven't touched my book and am at a critical stage of editing. I have promised myself to give it top priority until it is in a fit state to send out. I do hope you understand.

problemchildbride said...

Well done, Patricia!

PI said...

Sam: thanks - I'm almost back to normal:)

Guyana-Gyal said...

I'm in awe, Pat. Well done, that was some pace!

PI said...

GG: and I haven't lost an ounce!!!!