Voice: Postal - July/August 2011 - (Page 16)
VOICE JULY | AUGUST 2011
FEATURE NON-STOP FROM LAND’S END TO JOHN O’GROATS
A special CWUTV video feature on the non-stop John O’Groats to Land’s End run can be viewed here
From top to toe of the UK: Slideshow of images from the CWUHA runners’ remarkable feat of endurance
EPIC RELAY FOR CWUHA
A herculean UK-wide effort is underway by the union's humanitarian aid charity, CWUHA, to ease the heart-rending plight of some of Europe's most disadvantaged youngsters. One extraordinary group took the challenge to its logical conclusion running non-stop from John O'Groats to Land’s End to raise desperately needed cash. Simon Alford tells their story…
rdinary people really can do extraordinary things for all the right reasons! That's the inspiring message provided by six remarkable North Westerners who threw caution to the wind and pushed themselves beyond any reasonable limit of endurance to raise cash for disadvantaged children. When it comes to mad-cap and monstrously hard self-imposed challenges, running a 950 mile non-stop relay - day and night through all weather conditions for 158 hours - must be right at the top of the list. All the more so when those committing themselves to a gruelling John O'Groats to Land's End 'marathon' had an average age pushing 50… Yet that was exactly the feat of endurance dreamt up by North West Central Amal branch vice chair Dave Taylor following a conversation with CWUHA national secretary Carl Webb at last year's CWU Annual Conference - an event hardly renowned for the physical fitness of its participants, let alone the alcoholic temperance required of serious long-distance runners! "Carl commented on me losing quite a bit of weight, because I was over 15 stone at one stage," Dave told the Voice. "I explained I'd been doing a bit of running and Carl, never one to miss an opportunity, suggested that maybe, one day, I could do something for CWUHA." Fast forward a year - and, while delegates to this year's Annual Conference were gathering in Bournemouth for their normal unhealthy deliberations, Dave and a specially assembled team of runners and support crew were already well over half way through their herculean sponsored challenge. On Sunday May 22 several of the runners - by then pounding their way through Wiltshire - sacrificed the few precious hours of respite between relay stints to make a detour to the union's Conference where they received a
resounding reception. Two days later it was the turn of the whole ecstatic but exhausted group fresh from the triumph of reaching Land's End at 1am on Tuesday May 24 - to receive heroes' welcomes at both the Postal Group and Telecoms Industry Conferences.
Dazed and elated
Still dazed and overawed by their Conference standing ovations, Dave Taylor, Neil Cliffe, Keith Brown, Steve Taylor, Simon Walker and Ian Walker told the Voice of their remarkable adventure while still in recovery at the union's Elstead Hotel in Bournemouth. Just hours after their first proper sleep in six days, at a hostel near Land's End, both the runners and their support team were patently exhausted yet also elated at their completion of a challenge that, many admitted, had sometimes seemed "impossible".
We were living in the backs of vans and sleeping rough - but that was our choice. Then you think of how these kids are living
"At the start, sleep deprivation was the big thing," said Simon Walker of Crewe Delivery Office. "You think it's going to kill you but the body adapts that well that you just keep plodding away. I'm actually on quite a high now, and it will probably take a while for me to come down." Neil Cliffe and Keith Brown - both of Warrington Delivery Office - told of the physical toll. While Keith had sustained the pace brilliantly all the way from Scotland to West Country, excruciating knee pain kicked in near Exeter - but the agony for him was as much psychological as physical as he was forced to take a back seat for the final triumphant leg. "The high point for me was running when it wasn't hurting, because mostly it
was just pain," added Neil. Ian Walker, a driver at Warrington Mail Centre who only took up running two years ago, told the Voice: "It's not sunk in yet that with these five lads I've run the full length of the country. Only two years ago I’d have said that running was one of the things I hated in life!" Referring to a personal low point of running in torrential rain near Loch Ness, Ian spoke of the strength derived of being with "a cracking bunch" who now have an exceptional bond borne of shared trials and tribulations. "You just don't want to let each other down," he said. Stephen Taylor, a friend of Dave from childhood and the only member of the running team who doesn't work for Royal Mail, told of his surprise at finding night-time running easier "because you can't see the hills up in front of you!" Knowledge of the ultimate beneficiaries of the run put any discomfort into perspective, however. "We were living in the backs of vans and sleeping, when we could, rough - but that was our choice. Then you think of how these kids are living," explained Stephen. So, despite the sleep deprivation and physical pain, the overriding mood of the runners was one justifiable pride in their collective achievement - and a certainty that the unique shared experience has forged firm friendships for life. "At this precise moment in time I'd say I'd never do it again in a million years, but in a few days I'll probably be looking for our next challenge," said Dave. "The only problem is that it's going to be hard to top this one!" V
l Organisers hope the CWUHA runners - supported by CWU Midlands learning project worker Steve Ratcliffe, Dave and Ian's teenage sons, Anthony Walker & Adam Taylor and CWUHA's Ian Young & Alex Pearson - will have raised £20,000 in sponsorship for CWUHA once all the money is in. Retrospective sponsorship will be essential to meet this target, however, so readers are urged to give generously via www.justgiving.com/teams/cwuhanonstop
RACE IS ON...
BEDS FOR CHILDREN
Wooden boxes serve as makeshift beds in Bulgaria’s Gradina orphanage
WUHA volunteers are racing to raise money towards specially-made beds for orphans and abandoned children who are currently sleeping in boxes in a Bulgarian orphanage. Following a request in the last Voice, CWU HQ’s Chris Bennett and Steve Fishwick are thanking everyone who donated knitted children’s clothes for them to deliver to needy kids when they join CWUHA’s multi-truck convoy to Bulgaria in September. But, after seeing heart-rending photos of sick children of all ages sleeping in wooden boxes, Chris and Steve have teamed with fellow volunteers Francis Banks and Richard Tribe, from the South West Region, on a mission to buy 80 beds, mattresses and bedding. Chris is grateful for the assistance he received from Stephen Eccles of Mattison Contract Beds in Ipswich, which
will be manufacturing bespoke beds and mattresses for the children at a heavily discounted cost of £183.60 each. “When I saw the pictures of how the children sleep, it shocked me,” said Chris. “Proper beds will improve their quality of life for sleeping and waterproof mattresses that can be easily cleaned and aired will mean a healthier environment.” He added: “We’re going hell for leather to raise money. Branches have been generous and, in addition, if work sections or individuals can get together and send donations – perhaps sponsor a bed – we’ll reach our target.” Donations by cheque should be made out to “CWUHA”, marked “Beds Fund” on the back and sent to CWUHA financial officer Ian Young at: 22 Duncombe Rd, Great Lever, Bolton, BL3 3FD.
This story is featuring in E-Voice and online on onononline on
Read more about CWUHA's forthcoming convoy - and the extraordinary work of the charity that is made possible by the continuing assistance and support of organisations including BT, Royal Mail, AnPost, Eircom and CWU Ireland - at www.cwuha.org
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Voice: Postal - July/August 2011
Voice: Postal - July/august 2011
General Secretary’s Column
Improving Job Security for All
The Latest Industry News
Child’s Play at Mount Pleasant
Shaping Up to Meet Future Challenges
CWU Salures CUPW-Sttp & TUC Awards
News Updates From the Telecoms Industry
General Strike Now Needed!
Epic Relay for CWUHA
Voice: Postal - July/August 2011