Those of you who are regular readers (I am not sure I actually have anyone who would consider themselves a ‘regular reader’ but basically if you have read this before) will know I usually stay on the lighter side with this blog, with shockingly bad puns and ill-timed one liners.
But today I thought I would write something more serious for two reasons. Firstly it is just a week now until the biggest race of my life, my half-iron distance triathlon – so if anyone had been considering of sponsoring me now would be a great time. And secondly it is Father’s day, so I thought I would write a bit more about why I am doing this in the first place. I am not great at this sort of thing, but here goes…
Most people have known someone with cancer at some point in their lives, many of whom have not been fortunate enough to make it through. I still remember the time a few years ago when I heard my Dad had bowel cancer, and I am not sure I have known anything like it. When I came down to visit I had never seen him that unwell, and it really hit me how close things were. Speaking on the phone the night before his main operation was probably the only time I remember both of us being that emotional together.
But whilst my Dad was one of the lucky ones to have been identified early enough and make a full recovery, this does not happen to everyone. In literally the same week he was diagnosed, a colleague and friend of mine, Gywn was found to be at the later stages of bowel cancer, and at that point there was unfortunately little which could be done, and just a few months later he was gone. Similarly, the man in whose name the charity I am competing for was also diagnosed with bowel cancer in 1993. Described by none other than Pele as “the greatest defender I ever played against” and being the only Englishman to ever captain a world cup winning side, Bobby Moore is pretty much the definition of national hero. So when I was looking for a charity to fund-raise for a few years ago this was really a no brainer.
But for me, my hero is my Dad. When I was growing up my sister & I used to play a lot of sport pretty much every weekend – cricket, rugby, football, etc – and at the time I never really appreciated or said at the time how grateful I was to my Dad and Mum for all the time they would put in to come and watch us.
Like most lads I wanted to be like my Dad in any way I could, and there are loads of things I followed him in, from drinking black coffee and Harveys Ale, playing off a slightly suspicious golf handicap, listening to audiobooks in the car, subscribing to the same newspaper and even playing in the front row in rugby (although I am not sure how much choice we had on that one, maybe it was more genetic!). Some say we even look just like each other, but I will leave you to be the judge of that…
I still remember probably my proudest sporting memory of my youth was leading out the school rugby team as captain, in a home game on our main pitch in front of a fairly sizable crowd for those days, which most importantly contained my Dad right at the front supporting me. We went on to win that day and it was probably the peak of my team sport achievements. Since then, he has continued to support me, traveling fair distances to watch my triathlons and cheer me on.
He is also a hugely generous man. We tend to play a game in our family called ‘who can pay for a round of drinks’ as it is virtually impossible to be able to stop him getting in first (this is in a family which typically has up to a dozen of us when we are all together). Equally he is incredibly clever, getting a First at Uni and hugely important career, and a fantastically articulate public speaker – as my brothers-in-law and I know only too well from having the tough job of following him at our weddings! Although now retired he still continues to work harder than most people I know (well me at least) and is involved in just about everything there is to do in his village, from am-dram to traditional English dancing.
Growing up in a house with four sisters, Dad & I were the only men, so when we are together we tend to be more father & son, bloke to bloke (e.g. backslapping man-hugs, sharing a pint, etc) and we rarely go in for the emotional stuff, but I want to round off here by saying a huge Thank You Dad, I really appreciate everything you have always done for me, and I am proud to be able to do this for you!