2016 will be a very significant year for me as I go 40 years old on the 24th June and I want this to be marked by something significant and for it to mean something.
Now it would probably be simpler to go out and buy a motorbike or a fast car but that’s not really me. The best way for me to mark this midlife point is some thing running related as this is what I am best know for and some thing to help others; the 10 in 10 seems the best way to achieve this. Please bear with me and I’ll try and explain.
For nearly twenty years I have worked at the local hospital and for the last 15 I have worked in the Emergency Department. Over the years I have seen countless young people coming through the department who could have used help from charity like the Brathay trust. I have seen many of these people head on a downward spiral to an untimely end. Unfortunately, some of the people who I see coming into the department with drug or alcohol issues, are people I went to school with. I find myself wondering what the difference was between them and me? If things had been different could we have travelled the same path? We all went to the local village school (the one my daughter goes to now), we were all from similar backgrounds so what made us make the choices we did? In fact at this is what the then headmaster of the Primary school expected for me, he told my mum that it would be me that would be, ‘In trouble with the law…’. I was from a single parent family, my mum spent a lot of time working to make ends meet. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and was a mischievous little boy who spent more time talking and playing than he did concentrating on his work. Yes, some of the headmaster’s expectations for me were based on a stereotype but they could have been proved correct. His prediction was probably relevant as I spent most of my time in school never quite getting into trouble but always on the teacher’s ‘radar’, never achieving my full potential in class and exams but doing enough to get by.
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When I look back, if it wasn’t for the help and experiences I got through Scouting, things could have been very different. My summer holidays for many years were the annual scout camp. On these trips and doing these outdoor activities, I learnt to risk assess things through outdoor learning and learnt a lot of skills to look after myself and family in later life. So when I was offered drugs at school this ability to risk assess probably stopped me. In fact Scouting changed my life in many ways. I met my wife when she was a Scout herself at 15 on a hill top 20 years ago and we have been together ever since. I first experienced caring doing my Queens Scout Award, which totally changed my career path from an art-based job to nursing. So now, at nearly 40, I am in a job as an emergency nurse practitioner, which I still enjoy after 15 years. I have a beautiful wife and daughter who I love very much and we are a happy family.
I see the 10 in 10 challenge as an opportunity to say thank you and to give something back. To allow young people who might not want to or be able to access Scouting to have some of the opportunities that I have had, to hopefully end up were I am now rather than the predicted future that I was given in my youth……