As you may have read in the last edition of the Crier I took part in a sponsored charity cycle ride from Inverness to Portsmouth during September. The event was organised by some colleagues of mine at SSE and was in support of Children's Hospices UK, so the route took us via several of the firm's offices and depots plus five of the Hospices.
Day 1, Inverness to Pitlochry (91 miles). As expected the weather was pretty mixed, wet to start with but a following wind. We'd all done that sort of distance in training but the challenge was going to be getting up the next day and doing it again - and again!
Day 2 Pitlochry to New Lanark (117 miles) Some of the team visited Rachel House in Kinross. A long and tough day - I'll never cycle through Airdrie in the rush hour again!
Day 3 New Lanark to Stranraer (101 miles) Wind made the first half hard but lovely weather over the hills in the south of Scotland. Ferry to Belfast that night.
Day 4 Belfast to Dublin (120 miles) Weather was dreadful, pouring rain, wind against, 5 degrees - and the guy who prepared the route got it wrong - everyone ended up having to be picked up in the van eventually! On the way to the hotel in Dublin we stopped to ask a guy directions. His reply (genuinely!) was 'It's up that road, then it's either to the left, or the right!'
Day 5 Much needed rest day in Dublin. Overnight ferry to Liverpool, wakened at 4:15 am!
Day 6 Warrington to somewhere in the midlands (100 miles) I'll be honest, I'm not totally sure where we were at the end of this leg - somewhere near Birmingham!
Day 7 Midlands to Cardiff (92 miles) This was a lovely bit - Shropshire and Herefordshire are really nice, and we had warm sunshine!
Day 8 Cardiff to Swindon (80 miles) My group visited Ty Hafan, a hospice near Cardiff, before I set off - we had a team photo in front of a banner the children had made for us, and Nathan, who is cared for at the hospice, was the star of the show.
Day 9 Swindon to Basingstoke (70 miles) Both these towns were included because we have offices there - this gave us a chance to raise lots more money but to be honest, I'm in no hurry to go back to either place!
Final Day Basingstoke to Portsmouth via Naomi House (65 miles) My second visit to a working hospice. As a parent your first thought is how lucky you are that you don't need to use Hospices. Th atmosphere in the Hospices is incredibly positive however, despite the fact that the children, their parents and siblings are living with terminal illness.
We received a fantastic reception at our main office in the south. I was absolutely exhausted by the end but our final fundraising total of over £150,000 cheered me up no end! Thank you so much to everyone who contributed. If you'd like to contribute to this extremely deserving charity, their web address is www.childhospice.org.uk