Day 74

Early start and a short downhill (!!) to Bradford’s stadium

It’s a long time since I was a regular at (the then) Valley Parade. The stadium is now an awful lot more impressive than it was in the 1970s but, of course, I remembered the fire and it reminded me that we are never that far from tragedy.

Highlight of the Tour

One of the absolute highlights of the tour was to meet fellow Ecademist Martin Dewhurst. I have always had great respect for Martin and make no apology for copying an update he added to Ecademy after the meeting. As you see, he is a man of great insight and with a huge knowledge of the refugee issue. I was also extremely keen to catch up with him on his Penny On project which I think is so blindingly obvious it hurts. I am, quite openly, keen to see if I can assist with this. I quote,

Hi Steve,

It was inspiring to meet you on Sunday at Bradford.

We talked about the plight of refugees and how mere mention of the word ‘refugee’ and people can immediately think of problems they associate with immigration.

I’m not sure either if ‘international displaced persons’ quite works either, IDP’s as they’re referred to in development circles are still people like you and me, people who in the majority of cases who have lost everything including a safe place to live and call their home.

In many ways, Steve in taking on this challenge is experiencing what life is like for some of the worlds 45m refugees. He’s constantly on the move, his life’s possessions have been destroyed and what he has left he carries with him as he moves from place to place in search of support. Like any great undertaking done in the spirit of selflessness, the lessons along the way provide insights into the lives of our peers in other countries. The lessons provide empathy, a sense of connection to people who live like this 24/7 and recognition for their situation.

Steve wisely chose not to make this epic journey about raising funds, as a society we’re already at charity overload point with so many people competing for the charity pound. In my partners case, working at head office for a large high street retailer, every day at work she has to run the gauntlet to get to her desk past the growing crowd of charities that now set up base in the reception area, then once at her desk there’s at least 3 requests per day for sponsorship.
One recent “charity challenge” involved 14 members of staff on full pay and during work time, doing the 3 peaks challenge, they raised £440. Multiply this by the UK’s big employers and that’s a lot of effort to do more, shout louder, stand out from the crowd.

And there’s a downside, people who already give generously out of their wages are left to feel guilty for not sponsoring every person that requests support for their fundraiser.

One amazing fundraiser I know jumped off Everest in a parachute to raise funds, massive effort, risk and what next?

Steve, riding to raise awareness for the worlds refugees was guided by the UN’s advice to Bjorn, who did the same, cycled and took with him a message of ‘remember the refugees’.

Steve’s also already planning his next trip, it’s even bigger than this one and involves more clubs, more miles and tons more energy.

I noticed there’s been a few stirling supporters here on Ecademy for Steve, many more from BNI too and if there was one thing we could do to make Steve’s next push that little bit more possible, its by finding a sponsor to provide a tour vehicle and support team to accompany the tour and organize the journey ahead of each stage.

Aside from the breathtaking physical effort of this journey, Steve has also had to cope with much of the logistics, meeting times and places, accommodation, sponsorship en route. Physically, mentally and emotionally a mammoth task.

Steve, I salute your determination, courage and willingness to undertake this on behalf of others, and in spite of all the challenges you’ve faced.

You are an inspiration and I look forward to asisting anyway I can with your efforts going forward.

On behalf of all my refugee friends …
Shukran, shukran, shukran.”

Thanks, Martin. I am sure there is much we can do together.

Then it was TOUGH ride from Bradford to Sheffield. All was going well until I hit Huddersfield and found a slow 4 mile uphill climb! Happy Sunday!

I eventually made Sheffield to be met by Mick Daniels and his family who have kindly offered to feed and water me for two days. Mick is a HUGE Sheffield United fan and it was “the man himself” who organised for Bjørn to be hosted at the United Watford game last season. (See photo) That was a highlight of his 11 month tour and Bjørn still talks about Yorkshire hospitality. After a superb evening meal I can understand why!

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