Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Thanks for getting us over £5,000 (£5795 inc. Gift Aid)

The last three weeks have been wonderful for our fundraising and we hope to keep the momentum going, that you so much to our supporters:

29.03.11 Co-op collection in Bungay - thanks!
29.03.11 Wishing you all an amazing adventure and may the Norse Gods be with you.
29.03.11 Happy Sledding
29.03.11 We hope you enjoy the experience just as much as you did last year!
29.03.11 Good luck and enjoy - proud of you all for doing such a great thing for a great charity xxxx Don't forget to pack your thermals !
29.03.11 Good luck! Not sure I'd fancy those freezing conditions!
25.03.11 Good Luck Clare
25.03.11 Good luck Andy! Stay warm!
24.03.11 good luck..... xx
24.03.11 From Mark Botwright in lieu of payment for work
24.03.11 From Peter and Marjorie, the Garden Pots. Thank you!
21.03.11 Lo siento, only half a pair of wellingtons this time!
21.03.11 Co-op collection in Bungay on Saturday - thanks!
21.03.11 From Walberswick residents
18.03.11 I will be sending you warm love! Well done!
18.03.11 N'ice ice ice work baby! x
16.03.11 A great person, doing a great challenge for a great cause. Much love Anita, Adam, Samuel and Emily xxx PS Claire - there's a chance to 'earn' more money tomorrow when I see you - I have a little challenge for you...
14.03.11 Hope those gloves keep your hands warm!!
08.03.11 Thanks for your help and support and for being a great teacher!
08.03.11 Best of luck
07.03.11 good luck
07.03.11 Good Luck
05.03.11 Items sold at auction donated by Anna Colman - thanks Anna! More items going in next week's sale too.
04.03.11 Good luck Nuss. The years trogging across the North York moors on 58 Sqn should put you in good stead. Per Ardua.
04.03.11 Money raised by the pupils at Roman Hill Primary School - Non school uniform day.
03.03.11 Good Luck Claire, we are very proud of you ! and will be thinking about you and sending you warm thoughts xx

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Press campaign!

My rubbish scanner doesn't do anything bigger than A4 nor will it let me print and scan a smaller article from Steve, but hey, you get the gist.

Monday, 28 March 2011


Just before I go to St Mary's Primary School in Lowestoft to talk to them all about the importance of teamwork, a quick post about the weekend.

Mark's event was a great success, with Lowestoft's fitness elite turning out to show their support, one collection tin already counted up with £175 and all the individual pledges still to be paid in to the fundraising site here:

Andy's mum held a cheese and wine evening and raised £150 too - what a great effort, thanks Andy's mum!

The schools will be holding 'No Uniform Day' to support us following the talk today, so I hope that we will be able to collect and count that up before we go.

Finally another big thanks to Kay Ungless for (yet again) lending me her Macbook for the talk today.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Busy day, short night's sleep - time for a siesta?

Last night was spent under the stars on my camp bed in order to start acclimatizing myself to sleeping bag sleep. It was lovely and toasty and much quieter than it was in the bedroom. Since cracking a rib Mertz has had to sleep on his back, resulting in the kind of snoring that could wake the dead, so I may be out there every night till he's fixed!
I did attempt getting into bed a t dawn when the dew started to settle but ended up dozing downstairs with the dogs till it was time for a swim. Really windy today and the sea had whipped up so we didn't stay in for long, especially as I had to get off to Mark's fundraiser.

He has a day running today at the local fitness centre Bannatynes, with people taking part in classes, rowing as far as they can, running marathons etc all to raise funds and awareness. Loads of willing and fit people turned up this morning, but:

Mark was rather crestfallen that he was the only one to arrive in fancy dress, which was on the ticket - still we all had a laugh as our very own Peter Pan (wishful thinking Mark?) got the day going with a circuit class.

This evening brings huge excitement to me and a small group of friends who have become irrationally obsessed with Danish Crime Drama "The Killing", after 9 weeks of twists and turns, red herrings and shock plots we have the final 2 episodes tonight. We will gather (in our Lund Sweaters) for a scandinavian feast which is cooking as I type, prepared by Astrid, our most expert Scandi. When I called in with the salmon this afternoon the smells coming from the stove were almost enough to make me forget about the tragedy of last week's episode. There will be tear tonight no doubt as we hope to finally discover who did what to whom and why. There are so many theories that I feel a sweepstake coming on.
RIP Jan Meyer

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The sea

The last three days have been some of the best for swimming for a long time. The tide is low at our chosen time of 7.45 and the sands are smooth and clear of all but our footprints as we make our way to the water's edge. The disadvantage is that we then have to wade about 20 yards before we can consider actually swimming, but as it has been so calm it's been a gentle baptism.

The water sits at about 8 degrees at the moment, presumably helped by the calmness; the cold stuff doesn't seem to get stirred up and it certainly helps that it's not hitting me in the face. The sunny mornings do lull you into a false sense of warmth though, and whilst my mind could have carried on swimming for at least 15 more minutes, my body still begins to shut down. Brave Charlotte joined us this morning and not having swum since November she found the water bracing, but soon relaxed into it. We agreed that when your skin starts to tell you to get out it just as if you are being beaten by handfuls of nettles.

Monday, 21 March 2011

19 days to go!

This time in three weeks we will have set off on our first day's adventure, I can't believe time is flying by so fast!

The local Co-op in Bungay very kindly allowed us to take our banners and tins over on Saturday and the shoppers donated very generously. We've cashed up 2 of the tins and they held £63.92 so once the rest is counted it should be over the £100 mark. There was one lovely chap who came over in a Norwich City Football Club T-shirt and gave us £10, I made a few ill-informed comments about the team as I do at least know they are doing well, and as he was leaving he said "I'm a great supporter of EACH, my son spent quite a bit of time in the Quidenham hospice, they are amazing people." It tugged at my heartstrings.

Big thanks to Liz Kennedy who had the idea in the first place and helped us set this up.

(Any 3 for £12 seemed like a good deal on this lot)

The boys arrived in shorts and Andy even wore flip flops, bonkers, but good to see they are in training for the cold weather.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Mark swam - yes really!

Whilst he is our most seasoned Arctic explorer, having trained there during his time in the RAF, Mark has recently lost a great deal of body fat and also had a serious back injury some while ago and the combination of the two mean that getting in to the sea this morning wasn't easy for him - but he made it! He was allowed a wet suit today. Then he wouldn't get out, even after he started to look a bit blue... boys huh? Here he is waiting for me to take 'proof photos':
 And here he is getting out at last. It was pretty grey and miserable this morning, but that just means he's started at the best time - it can only get easier...

New socks

Having put my toe though 2 pairs of socks in the last week I realised that not all of my stash were going to make it. The only ones that survive year in year out are my dear old Pa's, which are considerably larger than my feet, so they have to go on the outside. I found these 50% merino ones at half price yesterday though and they are tubes, so should fit all. I'm not sure about calling a sock brand 'Ego' though!
I think I'll crack a pair open this week, just to give them a trial, even though it is warming up on the east coast. There's been fresh snow in Kiruna but I can't check in with @iscooler this morning as we lost our wireless connection overnight and my phone dropped off. The password is hiding at the moment.

Monday, 14 March 2011

This time in exactly a month...

we'll be setting off on our adventure!

Time has really flown and it has accelerated dramatically in the last month, in February it all seemed so far away, but now that I'm having to think about the last fundraising push before we go and starting to put together my kit list, first aid and sorting out timings for getting three of us to Heathrow it's suddenly very real.

The training needs to pick up in these last few weeks and I'm actually really enjoying swimming in the sea as often as possible in the mornings, I never thought that would be the case, but I need to make time for some longer runs and strength training sessions. This glorious weather we've been having helps with that as it's sunrise at about 6.20 now and getting up earlier isn't a chore.

There are more talks at schools in the pipeline and I'm hoping that they will also allow the children to support us with no uniform days as a result, the last one raised £240.  Fundraising is paramount at this stage and the villagers have been great recently, putting another £50 in my collecting tin. Whilst we can carry on once we are back we are also holding events over the next couple of weekends and I now have some large banners and flyers from EACH to show our support.

It's all a bit full on and I have to admit to having the fear. This could be because I've been a little poorly over the weekend but I really have started to wake up with butterflies. It's not just excitement it's trepidation. Last time I ventured out into the Arctic wastes I didn't know what to expect and I was not responsible for any aspect of the trip other than ensuring I was fit enough to do it. This time I feel personally responsible as I've persuaded friends to come with me and we are going to be tested. I know things can go wrong, I've read the blogs and heard the reports but I don't think that's what I'm scared of. It's more a worry that we'll be freezing and exhausted and the others will wonder why on earth they are there and want to go home.

Monday, 7 March 2011

World Book Night

On Saturday I went over to the Hospice at Quidenham to give away 20 books. It was a miserable grey day and the reality of the day to day running of the hospices really hit home. I can see why all the fundraising material we have been given is so bright and colourful. The visit only served to make me even more determined to raise as much as we can.

Due to the confidentiality needed for the families it was arranged for me to hand the books over to the staff on duty and I met Kate Jay, who welcomed me in and introduced me to other staff and to Chloe, one of the residents. Whilst Chloe needs constant care she was very keen to help us unpack the books and Kate asked if she would like to have her photo taken as our PR contact would like one. She was brilliant and is a natural in front of a camera.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Treehouse Appeal for EACH

With lots of support from Radio Suffolk the new development: 'The Treehouse Appeal' for EACH has just reached it's £3 million target, hurrah! We have not been raising funds for the unit but to help with the running costs so now we really need to get on with it.

From BBC site
An appeal to raise money for a new children's hospice for Suffolk and north Essex has reached its target less than a year after it was launched.
East Anglia's Children's Hospices (EACH) needed £3m to build and equip the new hospice when it outgrew its three-bedroomed bungalow in Ipswich.
It began its Treehouse Appeal in March 2010, and reached its target on Friday.
The new hospice will provide care and support for life-threatened children and their families.
Set in mature woodland in a single-storey building, the hospice has purpose-built rooms and equipment, including a hydrotherapy pool and sensory room.
Melanie Chew, director of fundraising at EACH, said she had been overwhelmed by the support.
"The community has exceeded all expectation and we would like to express out heartfelt thanks to everyone who has played a part in reaching this goal," she said.
"To achieve this, we hope those who have been a part of the Treehouse Appeal will continue to support us so we can continue to deliver vital care and support to those who need us most.""The Treehouse Appeal has provided us with a brand new purpose-built hospice with the potential to deliver better care to a greater number of families across Suffolk and North Essex.
The appeal has reached its target, but fundraising continues for the day-to-day running of the three EACH hospices in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The good, the bad and the really very ugly side of World Book Night.

It's a great thing, it really is. Giving away books that you love, for free for goodness sake, how could it go wrong? I guess I should have seen it coming when the online application process was disastrously clunky but I didn't think for one moment that an organisation with as much backing as this could make such a mess of their communication.

I registered on the 23rd of December and was told there'd be a decision by the 21st of January. On the 18th of January we all get an email saying that as they have had 22,000 applications they are extending the deadline to the 24th, perhaps this is because they haven't got enough people to turn down as they only need 20,000? There is no explanation. However at the bottom of the email the personal details of Tom Williams are given; home address, telephone numbers, email etc. so presumably the 22,000 of us can now contact him to ask what is going on. 2 hours later Tom has clearly had enough and we get another email explaining that his details shouldn't have been given out and would we please use the contact details they are now providing. 

This has now taken up so much of their time that they haven't been able work out how to choose the givers so they write again on the 28th, (oh sorry had we missed the deadline?) and tell us they'll make up their minds on the 31st, they've had 3000 more applications.

On February the first I get my 'congratulations' email, telling me I have been chosen and that I should click on a link to find my nearest book shop to arrange delivery, which I duly do, finding that our local bookshop (which is sadly about to close) is on the list, hurrah, at last things are coming together. I register the book shop as my chosen collection point and get an automated response: 

"Thank you for choosing the location from which you'll collect your box of forty-eight World Book Night books. We will deliver them to The Orwell Bookshop (your chosen bookshop) in the week before March 5 and send you an email to let you know when you can collect them." 

Followed three hours later by:

"Congratulations once again on being selected as a World Book Night Giver. Some of you are having problems identifying your local library via the online form. If you are have difficulties and can't find the library that is nearest to you on the form please email us at instead telling us which library you want to pick your books up from. We will check with the library to make sure it's possible and will be in touch before Friday to let you know whether you can pick your books up there."

I hadn't had any difficulty as far as I was aware so I didn't contact, or Tom Williams for that matter. But they didn't care, they were determined to force me into going through the whole process again with this interestingly worded message:

Dear Claire
Things haven't quite gone as planned...

Thanks for your response to our email asking you to select your pick up point for your World Book Night books.  However, we are very sorry to report that due to problems with the database of available pickup points many of you could not find the correct pick up point relating to their area, or the post code was not recognised.  This has now been corrected, but it means that some of you may have chosen bookshops or libraries outside your area.
We'd therefore like to ask you to go back to the website and make your selection again. 

Clicking on this link
 will take you to the form on our website that lets you choose your preferred pickup point. We know it's a hassle, but we would rather have you do this now than send your box of books to the wrong place.
Please do this even if you have sent an email to us with your choice. And please do not email us unless you have a further problem when using the selection page.
We're very sorry for the inconvenience and any anxiety this has caused - this is the first World Book Night and we're still feeling our way, so we hope you'll bear with us. And thanks again for applying to be a World Book Night Giver.

You are not kidding - feeling your way? It's at this point that I start to check other information to make sure this isn't some huge scam. Apparently not, I need to be patient, all projects have glitches, right? So another form is completed and I sit back and wait. Something makes me think I haven't heard the end of the 'chooses your collection point saga' process. Yup, here it comes. Another email saying that:

"We're writing to you now because we haven't got a pickup point registered for you. This may be because you tried but the system didn't work, or because you sent us an email instead, but it would help us enormously if you could take a moment today to follow this link and choose from the list of bookshops and libraries - even if you have emailed us. "

OK, really, really bored now.

Next another one saying exactly the same as the first "thank you for choosing your location" message. 3 days have passed. I don't check my emails for the rest of the day, I simply couldn't face another one, but that's fine because I don't actually hear from them for over 2 weeks when they tell me, again that my books are being sent to my chosen book shop. Unfortunately they haven't told my local book shop. The book shop are very understanding when I go in, just in case they haven't been informed (now I'm thinking for them - gawd) and sure enough they don't even know what World Book Night is, but kindly agree to call me if anything turns up, neither the bookshop nor I hold out much hope.

Next there are a couple of emails inviting us to apply for tickets to the event in Trafalgar Square, with the chance to get a free signed t-shirt by Anthony Gormley and whilst I am a fan of his work I don't really have the confidence i the organisation to apply.

The books arrive, now I'm happy and I briefly unpack them all just to look at how lovely they are.

Then they really get the proverbial icing ready to smother the cake. Today they launch their new website, which will allow us all to "shape discussion" about World Book Night, now I'm not sure that's a good idea, considering my experience so far, but nonetheless it would be foolish not to login as I am informed that I am already pre-registered so I scroll down to what they refer to as a link. It's not. They do provide me with a user name and password though, my user name is my email address and my password is March5th. So I guess this means that every giver has the same password...hmmm, I'm no security expert but surely that's not a good idea. Anyway I copy and paste the web address and it opens the new look site, which asks me for my user name and password, then it asks me to 'register'. Once I try this step all hell lets loose. It crashes, finds blank pages and generally pisses me off, so after 5 attempts I go for a walk.

Whilst I'm on my walk I get 8 emails from 2 other givers, direct to my inbox, one of whom says:

Please stop spamming my inbox - over 150 emails in last 10 minutes. Website organisation has not been your forte so far WBN and it's wearing very thin now. Especially as I use my work email account for this!
You can read the message at: (I have removed the link as it's spam)
Have a nice day!

I receive this 4 times from the same giver. She's right, my patience is wearing thin too, but I can't blame her. 

In amongst all this from World Book Night I cannot find any messages of support or guidance for how to be a good giver. No ideas of how to promote the event, work with the community to give books to those who need to be encouraged into reading, no suggestions of the best way to give books away and stay safe. No opportunity for feedback, oh, until today, when they offer us a community website that doesn't work. I'm beginning to wonder how many people are feeling like this and will do as my friend Lins suggested "just give them all to me for the car boot sale and go down the pub".

Actually I'm not going to do that, On Saturday I'm off to Quidenham Hospice to give half to them and then my class of 10 - 12 year olds get one each and the rest are being handed out at the Anchor at the end of the night. I'm not doing it again though.

Rant over.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Counting up the support

It's been a great week for the Challenge team, since our event last Wednesday we have begun to see all the hard work pay off. In the last week we have raised £1,767. If we can keep the momentum going we'll make our target.

Thanks to:

  • Everyone who attended our event on Wednesday, this raised £806
  • Erica, who gave Mark and I a £20 note at the class yesterday
  • John and Pamela for their kind donation of £100 (+ £28.21 in Gift Aid)
  • Mark and Andy's collection tin, counted up and paid in at £150.67
  • Keith Drayton, who is helping us with an event on the 19th for a personal donation of £50 (+ £14.10 in Gift Aid)
  • Linda and Colin Malcolm for their donation to Rob of £20 (+ £5.64 in Gift Aid)
  • Martin for his £10 (+ £2.82) in Gift Aid)
  • Mertz's family for getting together and donating £250 (+ £70.51 in Gift Aid)
  • Roman Hill Primary School for raising £240 with a no uniform day following a talk on teamwork