When I decided I wanted to do some volunteer work a few years ago, Willow was the first place I called. As a football fan I’d heard lots about Willow during interviews with Bob Wilson and the cause resonated strongly with me. Fast forward quite a few years and I am proud and delighted to be announced as new Special Days Director at Willow.
“Add to the memories you keep” are lyrics in one of my favourite songs (bonus points if you guess the song!). As you may know, Willow organises Special Days for seriously ill young adults and a huge part of what we do is help make lasting memories for people to keep. In times when so much of life is dominated by doctor’s appointments, medication regimes and things you want to forget, a Willow Special Day can give memories that will be treasured forever.
I started my new role on 1st May and, although I had already signed up, I thought our new triathlon event, Will of Iron, was a great way to begin – and ensure a week of memories to keep.
So here’s how it went…
A bank holiday weekend meant a chance to get ahead. I’d been training quite hard so Saturday was a full day of rest before two days of arriving at the gym at 7am and ending up spending more time there the than the staff!
Tuesday morning. After completing the swim and short run, it was into the office for business as usual. We’ll arrange at least a 1,000 days this year and no two are alike. However, my job is made so much easier as I have a very committed team who work tirelessly to make sure we create wonderful Special Days. It always humbles me to read the applications we receive. Often just being given the chance to spend quality time with friends and family is really special to our applicants.
On the treadmill Tuesday night I was really grateful for the motivation of my sponsors as the distance counter seemed to be stuck or at least moving very slowly. I pushed myself hard though, leaving just 5k running and 30k on the bike. I say “just”; a few weeks ago that would have seemed like a major challenge but not now!
Wednesday was my sprint to the finish line. The girl next to me had no idea why I seemed so happy at running 5km. To cap it all, I arrived at work to phone a lovely lady confirming that we would love to organise her Special Day to share with her partner. A great memory for her to look forward to along with a memorable start to an amazing job for me.
Mark, Special Days Director and Will of Iron finisher
Swim: 2:18, Cycle: 5:35, Run 4:01.
Total: 11 Hours 54 Minutes