I cant remember if it was Smashy or Nicey or indeed both who would say that they ‘didn’t like to talk about their charity work’ before going on to talk at length about their charity work. And with that in mind make yourself comfortable, make a fruitless attempt to tune into fab FM and crank up the Bachman Turner Overdrive as I regale you with details of my small contribution to the charitable landscape.
I’ve never really understood sponsorship. And in fact, I can pin-point the exact moment when that befuddlement became tangible. I was 9 years old and my primary school was holding a ‘make the children do sport to raise desperately-need funds for the school so we can replace things like the out-dated maps that still refer to our nation’s capital as ‘Londinium’’ day. For my part, I had chosen to raise money by playing football. How so? Well, at the top of the sponsorship form I was given by Mr Hunter – who, owing to his perpetual consumption* of cigarettes and associated odour was given the nickname ‘Tab Hunter’ – was the declaration that ‘Ben Taylorson was to be sponsored to score 15 goals in the upcoming soccer spectacular’. I’m paraphrasing, but the number was definitely 15. So, I duly went round the friends and family asking to be sponsored to make that net ripple on 15+ occasions.
When the big day came, who’d have thought it, but I fell just short of the target of 15 goals. Just short. Just 15 goals short. In fact, I don’t think that I touched the ball 15 times that entire day owing to the somewhat timeless unwillingness of the older schoolboys to pass the ball to the younger boys – me being in that latter category. Or indeed, the somewhat timeless unwillingness of all schoolboys to pass the ball to anyone. Frankly, my childhood idol John Barnes would have struggled to reach 15 goals in such conditions. Regardless of how much milk he’d drunk at Ian Rush’s request.
See, now I was in a quandary. A quandary that thickened – if indeed quandaries can thicken – as my father responded to my report that I hadn’t managed to put 15 goals past the big lad in net with the question ‘does that mean I still have to pay up?’ I didn’t know. To this day, I still don’t know. But over the years it’s clear to me that the rationale behind phenomenon of ‘sponsorship’ has become somewhat lost. Nowadays its more a case of ‘I’m going to do this thing I really want to do. Would you like to give £10 to a charity of my choosing in a way that is apparently somehow related?’ And I suspect you don’t hear much along the lines of ‘sorry, you didn’t break that 30-minute 10k barrier after all…I’m afraid the orphans get nothing from me’.
I am, of course, being facetious. It’s great that sponsorship of all sorts of activities raises money for very worthy causes. I would hazard an educated guess that sponsorship, particularly in relation to running, has never been more rife. As someone who does well over a dozen races/events a year, I’m wary of attempting to extract cash from friends and family for charity the whole year round, for fear of turning into Geordie Georgie from The Catherine Tate Show.
Instead I pack my charitable exploits into one action-packed month or so, waving the sponsorship form around in the autumn where in the space of 6 weeks I’ll be doing The Middlesbrough 10k (Pow!), The Great North Run (Kersocko!), The Scottish Half Marathon (Hoots!), The Redcar Half Marathon (Bof!) and The Yorkshire Marathon (Aieeeee!). So, at least any would-be sponsors feel they are getting plenty for their money. Plenty of my pain/exhaustion/anguish. Plus, rumour has it I could be donning the fancy dress at the Great North Run. But who will I be running as? Condorman? General Pinochet? H from Steps? You’ll just have to wait and see. When I’ve decided.
But what, I hear you faintly cry, is your charity of choice? Well, there are lots of worthy causes out there. Logic would decree – with me having been touched by cancer’s slithery tentacle – that a cancer charity would be apt. However, owing to a chance meeting with a middle-aged woman and her delightful canine friend in campsite near Hadrian’s Wall a couple of years back**, I run for another charity: Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.
Now, my daughter is deaf. She doesn’t have or need a hearing dog, but it allows me to fully appreciate how vital these dogs are to those who need them to hear on their behalf. Plus, it’s a charity that gets relatively little publicity and thus I feel I’m doing my bit to give them just a tiny little bit extra exposure.
If you want to know more about what Hearing Dogs for Deaf People do, just click here.
If you would like to sponsor me, please click here.
Running this week: A bumper 37.3 miles arrowed into the running bulls-eye this week. It began on Monday where I had very left in the running tank following last Sunday’s exploits. On Tuesday I headed out for 4 miles in a part of Middlesbrough that is…’less familiar’ to me. A chap gave me the encouraging words ‘You want to be careful running around here, mate’ as I set off. He wasn’t wrong. Thursday saw my longest marathon training run to date with a ridiculous 20 miles along the coast at Redcar. ‘Twas hard work. And very warm. On finishing I embraced a can of Coke with a level of passion and the kind of noises usually reserved for the bedroom. Friday saw a quick 5k to try and get the legs working again, whilst today saw me compete in The Darlington 10k. But more on that next time. What a week!
* – He smoked them, rather than ate them. Just to be clear. Is this still classed as consumption? Who knows.
** – The lady in question was ‘puppy socialising’, i.e. raising it on behalf of the Hearing Dogs folk so it could later be trained up, so she explained.