Why my luck has driven me to abseil down Londons 15th tallest building…

I consider myself incredibly lucky in a bunch of different ways.
However the main reason I consider myself amazingly fortunate dwarfs all others in their importance. You see…
I have two healthy happy children.
(We’ll, I say happy…Let’s change that to ‘mostly happy’ or maybe as happy as a teenager and an incredibly assertive 5yr old can be!)
I know that I’m lucky because I’ve seen how tough it is for mums and dads who aren’t as lucky enough as me and probably you.
You see for Parents whose kids suffer from serious or life limiting illnesses the worries they face make my concerns about my kids fade into nothingness.
That’s why I’m raising some cash for Richard House this year. The work they do for children with serious and life limiting illnesses is amazing and the support they give to the parents of these children is awe inspiring to say the least.
So, as you may know (I may have mentioned it once or twice), in a couple of weeks I’m abseiling down Broadgate tower. Now Broadgate tower is quite a tall building (the 15th tallest in London) so whilst I’m looking forward to the challenge I’m determined to complete it to ensure that we raise some much needed cash to help fund the fine work Richard House do.
So, I’m asking for your help. A donation small or large to support me to support Richard House would be hugely appreciated and you can donate here:-
I look forward to seeing your donation and thank you in advance!

Why I’ll be at the top of a tall building and need your help

A couple of years ago I found myself hanging off the Orbit, the largest sculpture in the world.

Now before you ask…it’s not how I usually spend my weekends but instead I was trying to raise some money for a fantastic cause.

You see Richard House are a Children’s hospice in Beckton. There is only one word for the work they do to support children with life limiting diseases and their families…that word is Awesome!

So I’m doing it again. This time I’ll be hanging off a larger structure…Broadgate Tower in Liverpool Street.

Now I know there’s plenty of things you can donate too….but as a little reward for each person who sponsors me they’ll get a personalised thank you video from me to you on behalf of what you’ve done to help such a fantastic cause.

You can sponsor using the link below and thanks in advance…

Sponsor here.

Why I’m scared and I’d appreciate your help

If I’m honest, as I write this, I’m a tad scared.

You see this Saturday (I’m writing this on Tuesday) I’ll be embarking on my 100 kilometer challenge…

…my legs are hurting just thinking about it!

Now you might know why I’m doing this already but in case you don’t let me explain…

I’m be walking a ridiculous long way to raise some cash to support the fantastic work of Guide Dogs… (more…)

Why I need your help with 2 and a half marathons…

What would your reaction be if someone told you…

They were going to travel on foot just under 2 and a half marathons in a day?

or walk over half way around the M25?

or travel the same distance between sea level and outer space armed just with a pair of walking boots and possibly some water?

You’d probably be shocked. You might try to talk them out of it. You might even check whether they needed a lie down in a darkened room for a while.

However at the end of June that’s exactly what I’m going to be doing…

Walking 100 kilometers in under a day. (more…)

Nerves, my new mate Saam and the day I fell off the orbit

So there I was.
Bright and early on a fresh sunny Saturday May morning….

….hanging off the UK’s tallest sculpture!

It’s not how I’d choose to spend a typical Saturday morning I’ve got to be frank however the opportunity to experience abseiling the Orbit (the large red structure on the Olympic park) together with the chance to raise some cash for an amazing cause (Richard House Children’s hospice) was too compelling to turn down.

Approaching the event I was feeling clam. So when people asked “Was I nervous?” as the day approached I answered with the truth. I wasn’t.

Even as we arrived at the Olympic park the butterflies hadn’t kicked in. However as we put on our harnesses, entered the lift and moved towards the open window towards where we going to launch ourselves off the reality of the experience started to hit me.

I mean I knew it had to be safe. I knew the organisers wouldn’t let us do something inherently dangerous.

However looking down from the top of this gargantuan structure to see this bunch of tiny people waving back the reality of how far up you truly are hits home!

To settle the nerves I was talking to some of my fellow victims, erm I mean participants. Some were clearly nervous, some were joking and others were scarily calm.

We then, as we were heading down the Orbit two by two, selected who we were going to head down with.

I got partnered up with a lovely fella called Saam. Whilst chatting I discovered that Saam’s 9 year old boy uses Richard House and I quickly remembered why I’d decided to get involved with this particular pursuit…

It was for families like Saam’s. Families who really value the outstanding help and support Richard house gives them.

In no time Saam and I were beckoned and were told it was our turn to descend. All of the particular ropes were attached…there were three in total, one I controlled, and two ‘safety ropes’ in case, I was told, I decided to go ‘all SAS’.

Then we were told to start to lean off the side.

As experiences go, and even attached to a bunch of ropes, being nearly 400 foot off the ground and leaning into space isn’t the most natural experience in the world!

However I trusted the instructor at the top and leaned out.

“Now” said my instructor “Take one leg off and put it on the platform just below where your foot is now”

I did as he said and found myself wiggling my right leg around in vain. I couldn’t feel the platform!

“I can’t feel it” I said

“It’s just below where your leg is” he replied but regardless of where I moved my leg I couldn’t feel or touch the platform.

Suddenly with my right leg waving aimlessly trying to find a platform (which must have existed but had seemingly disappeared when I tried to find it) I felt my left leg slipping and suddenly I found myself hanging off the orbit a little quicker that I was expecting.

Now I know I was attached to a bunch of ropes, and I had volunteered to abseil but I’m wondering whether my slight slip meant that I can legitimately order my “I fell off the orbit – and survived!” T shirt!

My instructor looked a little frustrated at his simple instruction not being followed but being a true professional guided me to the right place and told me to start to descend.

I regained my composure and slowly started to descend. Below me, I could see Saam zipping down his line whilst shouting “This is brilliant!”.

Saam was right. This was brilliant.

I slowly descended, even feeling calm enough to give the photographer on the observation deck a thumbs up as I came down, and as I came down I could hear Cassie, Charlotte and Sophie shouting from the bottom.

As I felt more comfortable and in control I started to move a bit faster and suddenly in no time at all I was back on “Terra Firma”.

Saam had already arrived and as I looked at his huge smile I realised that I was smiling from ear to ear too.

I removed my ropes and my harness, went over to congratulate Saam and then went to greet the family who looked relieved I’d made it down safely!

“You did it!” Sophie, my 3 year old shouted.

“Yep!” I thought to myself “Despite being calm, then petrified, then falling off the top of the orbit….

…I did it!”

If you do fancy sponsoring me now I’ve completed the challenge and help me continue to raise money for an incredible cause you can find my Virgin Giving page here.

Sculptures, Families and why I’m throwing myself down the orbit for a great cause!

Let’s be clear…

Throwing myself down the UK’s tallest sculpture isn’t my idea of fun!

However there’s times in your life when you get the opportunity to do something scary, push your boundaries and raise some money for a brilliant charity.

Therefore I’ve committed in 3 weeks time to Abseil down the Orbit (it’s the big red sculpture on the Olympic park!)

It’s on behalf of Richard House, an East London hospice which provides incredible care for kids with life limiting or life threatening conditions.

Cassie and I have been massively lucky (and are massively grateful) to have two healthy (and mostly happy) girls.

Therefore when I look at the challenges of the families who have to cope with children who have the challenges of extremely poor health, and it’s within my power to support these families in my own little way, I should, shouldn’t I?

That doesn’t mean I’m not a tad nervous…I’m not ruling out a large gulp when I arrive and look up, or intense sweating (and possibly tears!) as I’m descending. However I know I’ll finish it and look back and be glad I’ve done it!

But, if you can I’d like you to help me out.

As I mentioned the main reason I’m doing this is to raise some money for a fantastic cause (you can read more about the work that Richard House do here).

If you fancy helping me out by contributing to this cause….feel free to follow the link below and donate how little or much you can afford…

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=ChrisvstheOrbit

Also if you happen to be in Stratford on the 2nd of May and fancy coming along to cheer me on, shout at me from below or give me a little shove it’ll be great to see you (as long as you’re there to cheer me on and not shout at me or give me a shove!).

Thanks for your support in advance!

Cotton, The Sunday Roast and why Chess might be an allegory for life.

2014-12-28 14.47.44Now I’ve got children one of the things I think about every now and then is the differences between my childhood and that of my girls.

Whilst there are and will be hundreds of differences one that springs to mind is the way we create memories and remember the past.

You see if I want to create a memento of a particularly lovely time all Cassie and I need to do is get our mobile phones out and snap away! This means that we’ve got loads of photos of the kids (and us) doing all sorts of fun stuff.

In years to come this allows us to look back nostalgically and have instant access to remind us of the times we had (and hopefully to nudge us to continue to create more memories in the present and future!)

It wasn’t as easy when I was a kid. Your camera was a separate contraption for your phone and seeing the photos wasn’t instant but involved a bus ride to snappy snaps and a 3 day wait (and then another bus ride to snappy sna….you get the message!)

This has meant that whilst I’ve got a few photographic memories of my youth compared to photo’s of Charlotte and Sophie they are few and far between.

I reckon that because there’s no photographic reminder many memories from my youth are lost in the mists of time. However there are also plenty I remember…

The dodgy polyester jumper (complete with tiger picture) my mum used to make me wear when all I wanted was a jumper which didn’t itch! I’m never sure why my mum didn’t get me a cotton one!

Sunday roasts at the dinner table.

and

My dad and I sitting at the same table, intense, focused…

…playing chess.

Whilst many things in our lives change, some things remain constant. Whilst the dodgy jumpers are now gone (although I suppose my choice of jumpers might be considered dodgy in a few years time) as a family we still love a Sunday a roast…

…and like my dad taught me to play chess nearly 30 years ago, I now play chess with Charlotte.

You see I love Chess.

A game which requires long term strategic thinking but where every move needs to be carefully considered.

A game which is thoughtful, logical but also instinctive.

A game which is relatively easy to learn but pretty difficult to master.

A game where sometimes you win. Sometimes you’ll lose. But in every loss is an opportunity to learn.

My Dad taught me to play chess but our lessons eventually came to an end when I started to win consistently.

I’m pretty sure the same will happen with me and Charlotte. Her chess game improves every time we play and I’m sure it won’t be long until she’s beating me consistently and looking for a better player to challenge.

However for now we’ll continue to play.

To help both of us become more considered. To help both of us win and lose but continue to improve. To help both of us think “five moves ahead”.

You see I reckon chess is a pretty good allegory for life….

What do you think?

————————————–

Thanks so much to Jo Hague for the inspiration for this particular blog post by giving me three words to write about – Roast, Cotton, Chess – Hope you enjoy it Jo!

Growth, Gratefulness and a massive thank you.

As Christmas approaches and I find my inbox full of festive greetings (most of then happily received) I find myself looking back on life in 2014.It’s something I don’t do often enough (I’m get much more excited about what’s going to happen next than what’s happened in the past) however I reckon there’s a huge advantage in looking back every now and again even if it’s just to understand what you’ve learned from the challenges you’ve faced, what went well and just to reminisce about the moments which make you smile the most…

For me 2014 can be encapsulated in one word….Growth

I’ve seen Charlotte and Sophie grow in their own unique ways…

Sophie from a toddler into a assertive,sweet and funny little girl.

Whilst having a two year old is often a pretty challenging place to be (although to be fair more for Cassie than it is for me) the bits I most vividly remember is when she’s surprised me with a new skill, or we’ve been silly together, or she’s made me laugh until I’m in tears.

Particular highlights include our games of Ready, Steady, Banana, My recent realisation that she’s pretty good at rock, paper, scissors (although she did try to insert “Cheese” as a selection at one point) and the way she reacts when being caught doing something we’re not too keen on…

“Sophie, stop squeezing the dog!”
“But Daddy….I wouldn’t!”
“Wouldn’t! But Sophie you did!”
“Sorry Daddy!”
 

and I’m seeing…

Charlotte developing her own interests, her own style and a unique personality with a fantastic sense of humour

Charlotte is changing to. It’s interesting, the change isn’t as pronounced and obvious as Sophie’s (10 to 11 doesn’t seem as obvious a change as 2 to 3) but one way she’s grown is how she’s start to develop her own interests.

From Pokemon (and Digimon and, well actually any Manga cartoon involving battling monsters) to Minecraft to our new canine addition this year she continues to develop her own interests, fascinations and obsessions.

She’s also funnier, smarter and as confident as ever and this seems to grow day by day.

However we’ve also had challenges (like the ‘jujitsu competition’) and at times have been frightened beyond belief (like Charlotte had to visit to the hospital) but all in all it’s been an incredible year.

However what’s strange is that whilst it’s natural to look back and see how your children have developed and grown it seems that many of us don’t look at our own lives and see how we’ve ‘grown’.

Not in a schmaltzy X factor ‘journey’ way, or physically (although the Christmas chocolates and mince pies are helping my waistline grow!) but as people.

This year I’ve read roughly a book a week. Surrounded myself with great people who each have their own lessons to teach and taken action to continue to build my business.

Also, I’ve won a bunch of awards, had the opportunity to flex my public speaking muscle a bunch (sometimes remotely!) and collaborated to develop a product which, so far and it only launched a few weeks ago, is being used by hundreds of people across the UK.

Also I’ve been proud to work with a fantastic member of our business team. Kelly came on board over a year ago as an apprentice and has been on her own journey of growth (in skills, knowledge and confidence) within our firm which culminated in her being a finalist in the apprentice of the year awards.

As always Cassie, my wife has been a lynchpin in everything I do, has been fantastic.

It’s not always easy running a family and business together and there’s times we don’t exactly see eye to eye. However our ambitions for our lives and our family remains the same and we’re always working together to improve both.

I don’t say this enough but I’m massively lucky to have Cassie.

So when I look back at the year and the growth we’ve all achieved I feel massively lucky.

Lucky to have a loving family, friends and colleagues.

Lucky to have great opportunities both commercially and personally.

and

Lucky to get to speak to some fantastic people who enrich my life every day.

So if we’ve met and just spoken for a while….thank you.

If we’ve just spoken online and haven’t yet met….thank you.

or

If you read my blogs…..thank you.
I’ve got some big plans for 2015 (including publishing my first book) but for now I’m feeling massively lucky and massively grateful.

I hope you’re feeling the same way and make sure you have a fantastic Christmas and new year!

See you in 2015!