There I was just glancing out of the window one Sunday afternoon when I saw what I thought was an orange cement mixer being wheeled down the road. On closer inspection it was actually a man running down the road with an orange cement mixer strapped to his back. I will readily admit my first thought was “bonkers” followed by “crikey, why would anyone run with a cement mixer on their back?”. I thought nothing of it until I saw the same orange cement mixer running along Barkham Road a few days later. I did still think “bonkers” as just saying “run” brings me out in a cold sweat! However I noticed the Combat Stress logo on the side and thought “wow that’s a way to get noticed, I wonder what this man’s connection is with Combat Stress”.
It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I saw something on Facebook which answered all my questions. Being nosy I read on and I felt humbled and will readily admit that this man had restored my faith in human nature. I told my family about this and they said “cool”, “wow” and then forwarded the link to my friend Lizzie who had written about PTSD in her book Who are you?
The following morning I rang Combat Stress and said that I would be interested to chat to Nick about his fundraising and why a bright orange cement mixer. I explained that whilst I am no use to anyone in a running capacity I would happily share his story and fundraising page and help raise awareness. The charity took my details and forwarded them onto Nick who got in touch. Nick sent me an email and chatted so when I asked him for a few words he sent me this
“Thank you for taking the time to call me and chat. As a former soldier I am more than aware of the physical and mental injuries that so many servicemen and women suffer from and in turn the suffering of their family and friends. I am always keen to support a variety of charities and if I ever see anything on any social media asking for sponsorship I will often donate.
With so many charities and so many individuals trying to raise money I think we often have to resort to something different that will get the attention of others.
I was born in Wokingham and apart from serving with the British Army have lived here all of my life. I now run my own building company Barkham Homes Limited (I live in Barkham) and was on site one day thinking what could I do for charity that is different, I saw the bricklayers and went to have a look at the cement mixer turning round and round and thought yes, with a few modifications I can carry that!
So, 2 years ago to celebrate my 50th birthday I did the Reading half marathon carrying the cement mixer, it took me 2 hrs 22 mins and I raised nearly £4000 for Help for Heroes and the Army Benevolent Fund. At the time I think I said never again but here I am 2 years later and I want to do it just one more time, the last time……..
Recently I have been very conscious of the increasing number of ex servicemen and women who are suffering from PTSD, this is no surprise as most of the Army and many of the other services have seen operational service. I have always supported the Royal British Legion, they do a great job but I have not heard much about Combat Stress which is surprising as they have been helping veterans, serving military personnel and their families for 95 years. So, this year I am collecting for them.
This year I am sure my race time will be much slower but as long as I complete the course I will be happy. Last time the crowds were fantastic as were all the other runners who gave me plenty of encouragement”.
WOW is what I say! Anyone who runs with an orange cement mixer on their back raising awareness and fundraising for such worthwhile charities surely deserves sponsoring and look here’s the link!