Leading from the middle…June 27th, 2013 | Posted by in Uncategorized
I’ve never been particularly good at any sport. Indeed, “mediocre” is a word which pretty much nails my athletic prowess in all divisions of energetic entertainment, from ball games to ballroom dancing, from tennis to triathlon. Search my name on the results pages of the various triathlons and runs I have entered in my time and you’ll invariably find me almost exactly half way up (or down, depending on how you look at life) the list. “First teams” were never my thing. Nor were “second teams” either, come to think of it, but look further adrift in the more remote echelons of the team registers and there you will encounter the proudly median name of Oliver Lemanski. I have been the captain of not one but two different “fourth eleven” hockey teams; surely that speaks for itself.
So, it would be fair to say that if you were to throw a proverbial sporting party, I would not be the one you would look to invite to bring the talent or, in fact, any form of physical coordination whatsoever.
However, I do seem to possess two seemingly useful attributes that have thus far proven useful in the wonderfully competitive gladiator pit that is sport. One is stubbornness, or a tendency to utterly refuse to stop trying regardless of how ridiculously poor at something I may be. The other is the willingness to devote a great deal of time and energy towards a sport or new idea once I get a taste of it. Perhaps the cocktail of these personality traits mixed with the infectious nature of some good friends helped to catalyse the initial fruition of “My House to Your House”… an absolutely absurd challenge based on nothing but a want to do something different and a desire to do it for a good cause.
I should make it extremely clear that MH2YH (as it has become known by those involved) was not my idea alone, nor is it in any way my project to own now. It was the illegitimate child of some very ambitious and overly macho conversations and a rather impressively inspiring summer Olympic Games in London last year (well done London, btw). No, the idea was very much a shared one. But the refusal to let the idea become just another idol daydream and pursue it like a dog chases it’s tail, well, that was right up my alley.
And so here we are, a few days away from a five day calorie holocaust. The journey has been interesting, to say the least. Co-ordinating ten people living in Bristol, London, New York (briefly), Amsterdam and Singapore, many of whom had not met each other before, and all of whom harboured (or are harbouring) some serious concerns about at least one aspect of the trip has been a challenge, to put it mildly. During the last eight or so months there have been injuries, accidents, pregnancies, moves abroad, immovable work commitments, promotions, demotions, redundancies, new pets, cancelled holidays, re-planned holidays, sponsors commitments, sponsors pulling out of commitments, new participants, a swamp (long story), a generous milk man (even longer story) and some very, very high phone bills. Somewhere during all this, the NASA space shuttle programme was halted, Margaret Thatcher died, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdicated, and One Direction became bigger than the Beatles (or so I’m told by my wife). Not that any of the MH2YH participants would probably have had time to notice these public news articles due to their training commitments, hence me pointing them out now. Hang on a sec, just who the hell are One Direction?
Regardless of how we have got here, here we are. I’m so proud of the work and effort that everyone has churned into all of this. Putting the ten now-rather-gaunt individuals who are actually attempting this challenge aside for a moment, let’s spend a moment to consider the incredible WAGS, friends and family supporting us. They have not just stood by the participants by adjusting their lifestyles to cope with the training time drain, but have also actively got involved with everything from website building, fund raising event throwing, idea pulling, PR rustling, donation pleading and social media managing. What MH2YH has become is equally the result of these amazing people as it is from the efforts of those on the turbo trainers, running paths and icy swimming lakes.
It’s not just WAGS though. Thanks to the astonishing generosity shown by so many who have donated – either directly, offline or via giving prizes for one of our fund raising evenings – we have already hit our initial target of 53k GBP which will help to fund Parkinsons research projects to try and find a cure. Thank you. In case you haven’t donated yet but you would like to, please do so here. Let’s smash that target!
Add to this already inspiring melting pot some innovative and charitable corporate sponsors like TNT Express, Iris, Sophie’s Steakhouse, Oho Group and Troi Studios, and suddenly the whole affair starts to move by itself like an intense growing ball of enthusiasm, sweat and tears hurtling directly towards Dover harbour!
I will save the personal “thank you”s until we know the outcome of next week’s little endeavour. Those who have made My House to Your House possible know who they are and how much the efforts they have put in are appreciated. They will not go un-thanked.
For now, I turn to my fellow 9 almost-as-equally-average-but-in-the-main-slightly-more-sporty comrades and wonder just how on earth we got to this point. I know these people well. I believe in these people entirely. These people turn my fear into excitement. If I have learnt one thing from leading from the middle it is this: trust in those around you, the sum of many far exceeds the ability of one.
Now, enough chat. Bring on the English bloody Channel.
OLL, June 2012
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