The Unsung Olympians

Our Olympic stars are getting a lot of well-deserved coverage at the moment and their efforts are truly inspiring.  Whether winning medals or not, the amount of time, effort and dedication put into training for their chosen sports and competing on the world stage seems far beyond the experience of us ordinary mortals.

So now’s a good time to spare a thought for the unsung heroes of physical endeavour – the ones who put their energies into mind-blowing feats in order to raise funds for charity.

A couple of nights ago I went to a camping barn on the wilds of Shap Fell for a fantastic night of live music organised by a local enthusiast.  (I’ve written here before about my love of live music and how it brings people together – the government may think it came up with the Big Society idea but we’ve already got it, alive and well in the pubs, folk clubs and music venues of the Lakes).  

One of the guests was a guy called Dave who had apparently been invited in when he was spotted cycling past on the highest point of the A6.  Not an unusual event in itself (though you have to be super-fit to tackle our hills) but it turned out he was riding a unicycle. Not only that, but he was pretty much on the half-way point of his 950-mile journey from Land’s End to John o’ Groats, which he was expecting to take around three weeks.

Now I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to ride a unicycle (I haven’t, though I’ve watched my kids try to get the hang of it) but if you have, you might appreciate the scale of Dave’s endeavour – it’s pretty challenging!  No gears or free-wheeling, and he had to carry everything needed for the journey in a rucksack on his back – I couldn’t believe how relaxed and happy he looked, considering the miles he’d already put in.

Dave told us he was raising money for Stop the Traffik, a global movement working to prevent human trafficking around the world.  It made me think about Action for Happiness‘s 10 Keys to Happier Living, which includes Do Things for Others as a powerful way to boost our own happiness as well as building a better society for everyone. Maybe that explained Dave’s beaming smile, and the inspirational effect he was having on those around him!

So if you would like to follow Dave’s amazing journey and donate to this worthy cause please check out his fund-raising page here.  Good luck to Dave and everyone else out there who is undergoing their own Olympian challenge!

Poem of the Week

From the anthology Winning Words, a new collection to celebrate the 2012 Olympics.

What If This Road

What if this road, that has held no surprises
these many years, decided not to go
home after all; what if it could turn
left or right with no more ado
than a kite-tail? What if its tarry skin
were like a long, supple bolt of cloth,
that is shaken and rolled out, and takes
a new shape from the contours beneath?
And if it chose to lay itself down
in a new way; around a blind corner,
across hills you must climb without knowing
what’s on the other side; who would not hanker
to be going, at all risks? Who wants to know
a story’s end, or where a road will go?

  Sheenagh Pugh

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