Introducing my new walking buddy (and why I’m raising money for UNICEF)


Only one more day until departure and I’ve managed to acquire an emergency walking buddy. Meet the UNICEF Teddy. He (She?) doesn’t have a name yet – I’m open to suggestions.


I’m taking one less pair of socks to accommodate the teddy.

I’m already going to be carrying 16 kg of camping gear, food and water with me. The weight of the teddy is negligible in comparison. It probably won’t help much with putting up the tent or cooking the dinner, and conversation may be a little one-sided, but it’s better than nowt. I suppose if I get too stuck somewhere and need a fire I could always use him as kindling.

Obviously I wouldn’t be taking the UNICEF Teddy with me if I wasn’t raising awareness (and money!) for UNICEF. But why have I chosen this cause?

UNICEF work to protect and promote the rights of all children in more than 190 countries worldwide. This makes their global reach far beyond that of any other children’s charity.

UNICEF relies entirely on voluntary contributions. They receive no funding from the UN budget. By being reliant on donations they have to be efficient with how they spend their money – 76p in every pound raised goes directly to their work with children. Of the rest, 22p goes towards further fundraising efforts and 2p towards administration.

Yesterday I was asked what the minimum sponsorship amount was. There really is no minimum, as cliché as it sounds, every little helps. You can maximise what you give by checking the Gift Aid option on the donation page. A couple of beers (or one in some places in Cambridge!) can come to a fiver, you could get a takeaway meal for a tenner. That same money can be used to give tangible, life changing help to a child – Just £3 can make sure that a child gets the vitamins and nutrients they need once they start solid food; £4 can provide a quality football for children to play, exercise, and have fun (because children everywhere should be able to have the sort of childhood I took for granted); £11.50 could provide Polio vaccines to protect 100 children; £21 can provide 5,000 water purification tablets for use when families cannot access fresh, clean water. £23.50 can provide all of the midwifery equipment necessary for the safe delivery of one baby… I really can’t tell you exactly where your money will go to – I trust UNICEF to use it as well as possible and to use it where it’s most needed right now, so please consider having one less beer this week and supporting myself and UNICEF – even if it is just a couple of quid, it’s going to a good cause.

As for the teddy – I’m currently taking name suggestions from Facebook or Twitter (or the comments section below if you have an idea for a name), I had considered calling it Albert, but there have already been better suggestions than that. I’ll try and take an online suggestion, but I may leave the naming of the teddy until I’m on the trail.

Putting things into perspective

I’ve pulled the distances out of our GPS logger. In our eleven days spent walking with rucksacks we walked 247.94 miles. That’s just over twenty-two and a half miles per day, carrying over twenty percent of our bodyweight on our backs.

It doesn’t take into account any of the distance we walked around Fort William during our day off (which we didn’t bother to log), an evening walking around Inverness, nor any of the distance done once we reached Aberdeen.

As it turns out, we used the logger on one day in Aberdeen, just to add some extra distance to our total, while seeing if it was possible for us to walk any distance without rucksacks. It turned out we were in no fit state to continue walking. We still covered another 13.74 miles, taking us up to a grand total of 261.68 miles logged during the trip in Scotland.

Our “height ascended” totalled over 37,110 feet. That’s a little over seven miles high. We walked in the clouds and next to the sea. We’ve gone up, down and around in wind, rain and sun. Just look at a map of Britain and see where Inverness is in relation to Glasgow. We walked that.

That's actually quite a long way to walk.

So we were short of our target of 350 miles. But if you add in the distances we didn’t log around Fort William, Inverness and Aberdeen, and include the 50 miles in North Wales and 42 miles in Ely then we have walked over 350 miles for DC Boxing club. Just not quite in the way we intended.

It’s official

Ivan, head coach of DC Boxing and Justin, a long running senior boxer and coach, both had words of encouragement at the start of the trip, which Phill and Heley took with them, along with their 20kg bags. Now at the premature end of their journey, we asked them again for their thoughts.

1) Now that Phill and Heley have officially announced that they will not be able to complete the trip, what are your thoughts?

Ivan: Disappointed for them. But if you’ve given your all, you can’t ask for more. Logic has to take sense.

Justin: They’ve done amazing.

2) How do you feel about what they have managed to achieve for the club, in terms of both raising the profile of the club and the money they have raised?

Ivan: Whether they raised £2 or £2000, it’s not about the finance. They’ve given their time for the club, and put something back in. It’s generated a lot of interest. It’s a shame people just don’t have the money to sponsor more.

Justin: Brilliant. They’ve gone out and done it, and it shows what the club means to people.

3) Despite Phill and Heley’s clear achievement, if they were to feel disappointed or a sense of failure in anyway, what would you say to them?

Ivan: They haven’t failed at all. We can only imagine how hard it was out there from reading the stories. They didn’t fail, they just didn’t reach the goal they set out to. If failure is raising money for the club and raising awareness for the club, then call it failure. It has got a lot of people talking and money for the club towards the much-needed new ring.

Justin: Injury takes over the braveness. You’ve got to be realistic. Your mind is trying to work over your injury, but sometimes you can’t carry on.

4) How else do you plan to raise money for the new ring? 

Ivan: Last year we had a shave night. ‘It’s a knockout’ is coming up to raise awareness, but not a lot of money. Dunno – ask Justin!

Justin: ‘It’s a knockout’ is on this week. There’ll be a stall and scaffolding with bags. 30 seconds. £1 a go. So hopefully we can raise a bit of money there.

On the site alone, Phill and Heley have raised £862.70 so far. They’re still planning to reach £1000, with a welcome-home-empty-your-pockets bucket bash. With Ivan’s wisdom and experience, and Justin’s duracell-positivity, I’m pretty sure we’ll reach the target £1500, because it’s not about the money. It’s about the club. 


Testing out my phone to first of all see if we can post to to the blog, and if we can post photos from it. Uploading photos doesn’t seem to work, so no beautiful picture of our spork collection unfortunately :(



Edit: Here are the sporks as promised - Phill

‘Emergency support co-ordinator’ cum internet dogsbody

Phill has kindly (!) asked me to be his and Heley’s ’emergency support co-ordinator’ and internet dogsbody – roughly translated, to be on standby if anything goes wrong in them hills, and to keep everyone updated on how they’re getting along when they’re unable to update the site themselves. Sounds simple enough, yet my panic-stricken face betrays the knowledge that he has picked entirely the wrong person for the job. Anyhow, the votes have been cast – one, Phill’s. And I’m it. So this is a brief introduction; mainly my first experiences of the club they’re trekking 380 miles for, and are leaving me in the proverbial shit for.

I went to DC Boxing for the first time last week. Followed by a second time. If first impressions are anything to go by, I was and am impressed. I attended as a complete beginner, and as one of only three females that night (one being the other girl I’d dragged along). I was understandably intimidated. Surprisingly however, and much to DC’s credit, somehow the club manages to absorb you. The atmosphere, due primarily to the coaches, and as a result the people, is strangely friendly, despite a lack of much chat. The two giddy beginners were taken aside after the warm up to be taught the basics by a smiling and reassuring David, and instructions not to call him Dave (although it seems that everyone does..?) We rejoined the group later, a little better informed of how to punch properly, even if we were a long way off delivering anything resembling a jab. Not to mention my stubbornly static feet. Sweated out the end on ropes and bags, and attempts to develop guts of steel. Left that night feeling excited about returning.

The second session arrives, but I left my balls at home, fearing all the same things as before, despite my good impressions. Turn up at Phill’s in the rain, thinking that the weather will mean people don’t turn up, and I’ll have less to fear. Wrong. I think the numbers may have been double! Maybe that’s more telling than anything else I’ve said. People love the club, and I can see why. I fell out of a tree last night, twisted my ankle running through bushes in a failed attempt to miss the sprinkler, but it’s kind of like the rain.. not enough to keep me away.. :)

So this is who Phill has left everything to in his absence. I wish him and Heley a safe and successful trip, and may my services need not be required! I wish them even more luck if they are. Trying to locate somewhere suitable for them to spend the night by way of coordinates and googlemaps as daylight fades and panic sets in, when Phill’s dodgy knee can’t hobble any further and Heley’s all but throttling him anyway, is something of a responsibility. Shame they left it to someone who can’t tell a mountain from a swamp, ‘cos they all look like squiggles on a map to me! :s