Meetings with Remarkable People
Aside from raising money and awareness for Mind, one of the best things about doing a trip like this is the people you meet. In the last few weeks we’ve been blessed to meet and speak with a plethora of explorers, world record holders and all round expedition gurus. All of them have been truly inspirational. We’ve already recounted our meetings with Sam Rutherford and Hugh Sinclair, so I won’t repeat myself, but since then we’ve had the pleasure of speaking with two more remarkable individuals, Simon Wilson-Stephens and Olly Hicks.
First up was Olly. Now Olly is younger than Jo and I, about 23 I believe. On 28th September 2005, after four months at sea, he arrived at Falmouth having rowed solo across the Atlantic, the youngest ever person to do so (see www.virginrow.com). Mindboggling. Just him, the ocean and a pair of oars. And not a lot of food by the sounds of things. Now my Great Uncle won a bronze in the Olympics for rowing and I was always pretty good on the rowing machine at the gym, but the thought of rowing all that way…on your own…defies imagination. Congratulations Olly. And good luck on your next project, rowing around the world solo, due to lift off at the end of 2007.
Next in the line of remarkable people is Simon Wilson-Stephens. Simon had suffered from depression since the age of 15 or 16. This all came to a head after the Millennium when, as Simon says, his ‘wheels came flying off’ and he had a breakdown, his foundations crumbling as he tried to settle back into life in the UK after a stint in Africa organising safaris. But he recovered and decided to go back to East Africa and follow one of Henry Morton Stanley’s Expedition routes by bicycle and kayak. He, with new found friend Stanley the dog, completed the trip and in the process raised £16,000 for the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust. When I spoke to him a few days ago he had just run the Marathon and Stanley the dog was just off for a walk. And its Simon’s fault that we’re now booked in to give a talk at the RGS on December 12th. The prospect fills me with more horror than a wrestle with a Ukrainian gangster.
Finally, Jimmy Goddard (www.jimmygoddard.com). I haven’t actually met or spoken to Jimmy but my friend Tom Townshend is in training for not one but two triathlons this year, to raise money for Jimmy’s Trust. Jimmy is in his late 20’s and was paralysed from the chest down by a horrific climbing accident in 2004. But he refuses to be beaten by his disability and is about to be the first paraplegic to climb Mt Kilimanjaro (www.pushinghigher.com). Hearing about people like this is a humbling experience and makes you regret those times you winged about your own petty problems. Good luck Jimmy (and Tom) I think you’re amazing.
On a different note – our launch party (flyer below) is in 3 weeks (May 17th) at The Cobden Club. Doors are 8-1 and we will be entertained by Alice McLaughlin, October and very special guests The Egg. I’ve already rambled on about them in an earlier blog, but I’ll just say once more how great they are and how thrilled we are that they will be playing. Thanks Matt @ Square Peg and the boys. See you on the dancefloor….