It has been just over a month since I signed up for the Rat Race Dirty weekend, since then I’ve been asked on numerous occasions “why?”. It would be easy to use the infamous quote of “because it’s there” or even more simply because “I like a challenge”, but whilst these both ring true there is a much deeper answer. You see when people ask the question “where are you from” the answer isn’t as simple as “insert name place here”, I was born in Hartlepool but my dad made the decision to join the army when I was three so have lived in numerous places since. For that reason I don’t have a real connection with any one place, I do however have a strong sense of belonging to the forces community, even now that I am settled in Leeds and my dad has retired from the forces.
I found transitioning from living in a forces environment to being a student immersed in civilian student life. I had time to be able to adjust to this transition but for some the transition comes out of the blue often initiated by some form of catastrophic event. The unsung heroes in the forces are those left behind whilst those serving perform the duties for which they are trained. The wives and families that keep the home running, the kids happy, the Christmases’, birthdays and school holidays as normal as possible, all whilst acting as the mother, the father and managing their own worries and concerns. As a child growing up I waved my dad off several times knowing, although perhaps not understanding, that he may not return. I will forever be grateful that he always returned home safe. Many families are not so fortunate and for every soldier who pays the ultimate price for his country there are colleagues, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives/husbands and children who must continue to pay that price. It is for these reasons that we have chosen two forces charities to raise funds and awareness for in our journey to completing the dirty weekend.
The first of our charities is Scotty’s little soldiers . Remember the unsung heroes I spoke about in the paragraph above? Well one of these is Nicky, she lost her husband Corporal Scott and as a result of the impact this event had on her family she set up this wonderful charity to offer support to bereaved families. The charity offers support in dealing with the emotional turmoil as a result of bereavement, it offers support, activities and respite that helps these young people realise that it is ok to smile again and helps those who are a little older plan their future through further education grants. Scotty’s is doing great things raising awareness for the unique circumstances and challenges these young people face. They have recently announced “Scotty’s day” in July and I for one cannot wait to wear my Scotty’s “tattoo” and t-shirt for the day.
The second charity is The Royal British Legion . The charity is most noted for the Poppy appeal and this years celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Somme, but their work continues year round. They help ensure the memory of those fallen are never forgotten, the needs of those serving are met with support, care and guidance, they support veterans, the families of the forces community and bereaved families. The Royal British Legion stands by those who have previously served maintaining that sense of community and belonging. I for one feel an immense sense of pride when I see veterans of all ages parading alongside current serving soldiers whilst children cheer and wave their flags aloft. The Royal British Legion play a large role in facilitating these proud moments and long may it continue.
The added motivation of knowing that actually signing up for these events and enjoying yourself is really a small price to pay to help raise awareness and funds (Karli and Petes fundraising page) for these worthwhile charities, when I know I have a tough training day planned or I really don’t want to go to the gym or outside for a run I think about the reasons I’m doing it and those thoughts are quickly dispersed. As for training I cannot remember being more motivated or enjoying training as much as I am right now, I see my dads Strava feed and see his progress and activity levels and begin to see the holistic benefits, the bigger picture of signing up for a challenging event. There are plenty out there, Running, Swimming, triathlon and obstacle/mud running are just a few of these.