“What did you do when the Prime Minister closes schools for in-person teaching on January 4, 2021?”
When I am asked that question in future, my thoughts will not turn to the delivery of a curriculum (and pastoral tutoring) via Microsoft Teams, nor the intricacies of OneNote, Senso and Sharepoint. No. My thoughts will turn to the fact that, on the spur of the moment, I decided to row a million metres, or around 621 miles, to raise money for bursaries. I did at least have the sense to give myself a year to do it.
Let me rewind a little. Four years ago, Berkhamsted School set about recruiting, and funding, more pupils on 100 per cent+ bursaries. Initially, a partnership with Denbigh High School in Luton led to six students joining the school in September 2018. More followed. Then we admitted two pupils via the Royal National Children’s SpringBoard Foundation. And then work with Hertfordshire Virtual Schools led to our admitting a small number of looked-after children. (And, actually, since then we have been able to take two Afghan evacuees into the school too).
“I wondered if I could resolve my disagreement with the rowing machine, becoming an ally with that much-avoided enemy.”
All this needs paying for, of course. And, as well as asking a lot of people for donations, I had begun to wonder if I should do a sponsored challenge. My rowing machine lay idle in a spare bedroom. I wondered if I could resolve my disagreement with the rowing machine, seek to become an ally with that much-avoided enemy, set myself a personal challenge, get fit and raise money for life-changing bursaries.
I lost count of the number of wins in that win-win scenario. Blithely, I set myself the challenge, and suspicious of my ability to see it through, I announced it on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. I even emailed everyone in my private email contacts. All that seemed a good idea at the time.
“If I am really honest, I also enjoyed the statistics.”
Yesterday, Day 317, I rowed 21098 metres – a half marathon – in about 1 hour 36 and a half minutes. And I finished. I didn’t just finish the half marathon, I finished the million metres. At the time of writing, I have raised just over £13,500 from 65 fabulous supporters. I’m a stone lighter too.
I’ve learned that little and often really is better than trying to bite off large chunks – especially to start with. It was interesting to see how 15 minutes went from a long session to a short one over the course of the last 10 and a half months. In the end I finished with 129 sessions of an average of 7753m. This had more to do with how long I could spare before the working day than anything else. In the end I did nine sessions of an hour or more, and perversely, I enjoyed those most. If I am really honest, I also enjoyed the statistics
“The machine is now in the garage, and I look forward to being a complete stranger to it”
Did the experience resolve my relationship with the rowing machine? Definitely not. It’s not just back in the spare room – it’s now in the garage, and I look forward to being a complete stranger to it. For the next couple of months at least.
I won’t close the JustGiving account until the end of the year. If readers would like to contribute to the total, it can be found here.