Sunday, January 24, 2010

DO IT FOR CHARITY .................

There must be many thousands of pounds raised for various charities across the Island every year from participants in the Parish, I too have raised for many different worthwhile organisations. The people of the Isle of Man are so generous when it comes to putting their hands in their pockets for charity- there are over 600 registered charities here in the Isle of Man.

Remember the year 2008, that very wet Parish ?? My employers, The Bank of Scotland Int. (HBOS) challenged 80 of their UK workers to come to the island and attempt the 'Parish'. Each had to raise a minimum sum of money for the Bank's Charity of the Year, Clic Sergent (a UK children's cancer charity). The day before the Parish, we collected them from the airport and sea terminal on a bright and sunny Friday and settled them into their hotel, with a free afternoon to enjoy the sights and sea views of our capital, Douglas. In the evening we shared a meal and a welcome presentation from our bosses to our walking guests. Parish walk officials attended and registered our visitors giving them an overview of what they should expect the following day. They made our guests very welcome and wished them luck for the following day.

I wasn't walking that year as I was one of the organisers bringing the walkers to our shores - I drove a 10 seater mini bus following our teams around the course. We ferried them all to the NSC on what started out as a dry and calm morning, we had over 100 packed lunches, water, juice, fruit and energy bars for our teams, enough to feed an army and enough bananas to feed a Zoo.

We divided the walkers into 3 groups -
1.those walking to Rushen 2. those walking to Peel 3. and those attempting the full Parish.

We had 20 HBOS walkers all signed up to continue past Peel and so we provided 20 support drivers from the Bank all prepared for a long evening ahead.

Of course as we all know the dry, calm day did not continue for long- I was in the mini bus at Santon when the rains came down and the wind got up. We were trying to find 80 walkers' rain coats and hats in tons of bags and back packs in the 3 mini buses- we had named and colour coded their bags but of course the walkers were well spread out even after 10 miles of walking! I guess we hadn't quite planned for 80 of them requiring items of clothing from their bags at the same time but the biggest difficulty was the traffic on the roads and having a large mini bus to manoeuvre!

Most of the first group of walkers had reached Rushen , soaking wet, cold and hungry- the plan to coach them to Peel to see their colleagues reach the second part would have been great on a fine day- so the coach took them straight back to the Sefton for a hot bath and some rest.

Driving up the Sloc desperately trying to identify 'our' guys, (they had been issued with fluorescent armbands for ease of us locating them) but was made more tricky as they had donned their coats and fleeces over their armbands and numbers in order to take protection from the driving wind and rain or should I say sleet. A gentleman from Douglas was knocking on the window of my side pleading to be rescued, he dragged himself onto our mini bus, so glad to get out of the appalling weather. (I received a phone call from him on Monday morning thanking me for 'saving' him on the Sloc!!) Once we got many of them to the Round Table we phoned ahead for our local colleagues to come and return them to their hotel - They were exhausted, soaked and pretty miserable. It was so unfortunate for these guys to experience this awful weather in their 1st Parish Walk as most of us know it's a wonderful friendly occasion where everyone is happy to be taking part and being a part of this fantastic event !

Well all of our walkers finished either before or at Peel except for one of the HBOS team member and that was Martin Malone - Manx resident and CMI employee (part of the HBOS Group). Well done Martin for being our only finisher, I am quite sure I would not have been able to continue had I been walking, although there were over 100 finishers which was amazing!

Later that evening I went down to watch the winners walk the Prom to the finish line and many of the HBOS guys were there to watch this amazing race come to an end - for some!

The next day we hosted a Gala Celebration lunch and many of them were presented with awards for various categories we had defined. They returned home later that day having had a wonderful weekend (despite the weather) and some vowed to return to 'tackle the Parish' again.
They did too, 3 people came back for more in 2009, one got to Andreas, one to Maughold and one actually finished 'The Parish' in drier and calmer conditions than the year before.
As ever the organisers did a brilliant job ensuring everyone arrived back safely despite everyones struggle with the elements!

Over £80,000 was raised that year by all our HBOS walkers for the children's cancer unit which was just magnificent and a real purpose to their eventful weekend in the usually beautiful Isle of Man.

If you are 'tackling' the Parish this year maybe you can raise a few pounds for a charity close to your heart, they will be extremely grateful for your efforts and every little helps. Get a team together, ask for sponsorship, people from the Isle of Man are so very generous and above all have some fun going out for walks and keeping fit. Have a good week- Angie

PS: Did I say I had been training? I have honestly, not very long walks but little and often is my motto - for now!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Toe nails - or lack of them!

Oh my goodness where has the time gone since my last blog!! Well I have been busy with this and that! .. and I have been out training!

I didn't get out in the snow to train apart from having to walk to work on the Tuesday .. in my wellies! Which was fine going in the fresh snow in the morning but walking back home from Douglas to Onchan in the evening on the trodden snow made it very slippy for me in my farmyard footwear!

How beautiful and peaceful every where looked and sounded with out the noise of the cars all around us. As I walked home I must have seen a dozen snowmen in the gardens on route and one excellent polar bear at my neighbour's! It is so rare to get the dry and plentiful snowfall, I am sure all the children enjoyed it!

Does any other Parish Walker suffer with a loss of toe nails after/during the walk? Not just one toe nail but several! On my first finish in 1997, not sure how I was supposed to feel, look or act post Parish Walk apart from surprised, and shattered, when one day I noticed something stuck in my sock! It was a small toe nail - I hadn't anticipated this to happen - after many hours walking, your feet almost become numb from being constantly pounding the pavements and being stuck in the same trainers for so long- Mine longer than many others! Over a couple of weeks one by one of my nails dropped off and 'sadly' I kept them in a small box- I think I lost 5 or 6. One week later I went to school at 3.30pm to collect our sons and our 7 year old came out to say his teacher wanted to see me! Not again I thought, as he is the middle one he always seemed to be getting up to mischief. Mrs Q asked me if I had lost anything, no I thought, and she produced one of my 'dropped off' toenails she had confiscated earlier!! James had been scaring all the girls with this 'giant' toe nail . Each time I finish the Walk I lose between 4-6 toe nails and it takes time for them to re-grow - My big toe nail has just this last week grown to full length since June 2009.

Sorry if you are squeamish, I hope you weren't eating your lunch reading this - still it's never as bad as Dudley's foot photo!

My husband & I went out this morning and walked for over 2 hours - not sure how far it was but it felt good and we enjoyed good weather. I think this year I will have completed the most training ever, blogging makes me get out there and WALK!

Have a good week - Angie

Monday, January 4, 2010

Fifth Fabulous Finish - 2009

Hi there

Hope you all had a great festive season , and getting back to some 'normality' ! Well the weather makes it harder to get out and train, or to stop eating those left overs and chocolates - but if you did make a New Years resolution, I wonder if you have stuck to it! I never make one as I don't feel it's a good time of year to make sacrifices, dark winter nights, the need for warm and hearty food, and the long wait for Spring time.

I did go out early Sunday morning and walked for 6-7 miles - it was icy but calm and I was well wrapped up, my legs are a bit stiff today (may have something to do with my ice skating fall on New Years Day ouch - it hurt!)

In my last blog I was telling you about my last years Parish Walk where I got up to the Hibernia (after Maughold) -The first year I completed the walk, my husband & support driver Ian, stopped the car at the top of the Hibernia waiting for me to get to the top of the hill and fell asleep - I remember thinking as I walked past him - should I wake him or leave him for a snooze - (he is a Postie and had been up since 5am the previous morning) it was some 40 minutes before he caught me up- was I glad to see him.

Next comes the Glen Mona and The Dhoon stretch on the way to Laxey, there were still a few walkers infront and behind , you can tell because there are more cars coming and going and voices in the darkness ahead and behind. It's a good feeling to see Lonan Church looming as it is almost a mile from the main road to get to it and the same back down again! As I walked down the Whitebridge Hill ( I really dislike walking down here because of the traffic - at any time of the day) my parents and sister drove up , horns blowing , lights flashing, boy was it good to see them, although Mum & Dad had been out the night before with me up to Andreas. I happily walked into Onchan village, my home for 27 years although there was no one around it felt good to be 'home' and take the turning into the Butt and up to my Onchan Parish Church - this Sunday I was too early for the morning communion I often attend. Peter & Bridget Kaneen were checking me in at the church gates and said to me these words of encouragement - 'Keep going there are a few ahead of you and you can catch them, go, go Angie' I was feeling great and stepped up a gear to find the walkers ahead -I passed by my own front door on Royal Avenue, where 2 of my son's were waiting for me, (the eldest was at Uni) I did pass 3 walkers on Royal Avenue and Port Jack area but the one guy on the Promenade ahead was just too strong for me! Well done Martin!

Crossing the line at the War Memorial on Douglas Promenade, with many of my family there was just fantastic, I never believed I would manage to complete the Parish again following my illness - but there you are, never say never! If you have a goal, go for it, no matter what happens to you in life, get up and live it - you only get one chance!

Thanks for reading - Angie