Beat The Beast Challenge

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Tommy Presenting Me With A Gold Double Dolphin Submariners Badge As A Mark Of Courage
Tommy Presenting Me With A Gold Double Dolphin Submariners Badge As A Mark Of Courage

The author and rock band manager James Neil Hollingworth once wrote that

“courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.”

I have heard many times a reference to people who, on receipt of terrible news or when caught in a life or death situation are frozen by fear. I have been frozen by fear just once in my life. I was required, on an adventure training expedition, to make a jump from one rock stack to another without safety ropes or nets. To fall would have meant possible death and certain life changing injury. I had always had a fear of jumping having witnessed a terrible accident which resulted in life changing injuries to this young chap as he tried to jump over the pommel horse in the gymnasium when I was a young boy. I loved heights and could swing around the rigging on ropes without harness all day and had proven that while crewing professionally on the Bounty and then the Solway Lass while sailing from Sydney harbour. But this was a jump, a simple jump and I was frozen on the top of the stack unable to move. My fellow Officer Cadets were encouraging me to jump and soon the Scouts at the bottom of the stacks were encouraging me to jump. The training team were now goading me and yet I was frozen. I found the courage to jump as my pride would not let me descend. I knew that failing to find the courage to face my greatest childhood fear would inevitably lead to me being failed from Rowallan Company that I had to pass as the pre-course to Officer training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

Right now, as I continue to battle with my failing neurological and cognitive function, I start to fear even further the onset of Alzheimer’s I talked about in my last post. Over the last 18 days since my last post I have increasingly found myself struggling:

I have been dropping things constantly like my mobile phone, or hats or gloves or dog leads, or cutlery, pens and pencils, thankfully nothing breakable (even my mobile has survived thanks to the tough case it is in) but I seem to spend my life stooping down to pick things up. I have been increasingly struggling to coordinate my hands and body to fetch things from my pockets. I keep forgetting to plug in my phone or laptop so start something only for the phone or laptop to shut itself down. I keep trying to turn on my phone or laptop only to find that I have turned it off and vice versa. I closed the door to the loo only for it to swing open to reveal me sitting, unable to move, in full view of poor Allie. Allie has had to help me open a childproof bottle that defeated me as I tried to give our young dog Cocoa her medicine. When marching on Remembrance Sunday, I thought all was going well. My daughter’s boyfriend, a submariner called Tommy came for the day and volunteered to march with me to ensure I was okay. I was able to keep instep so was feeling proud as punch as we marched through the town but on the eyes left, I ended up saluting right even though the saluting dias was to the left. Once again I got my lefts and rights horribly confused. While trying to watch an episode of strictly come dancing with Allie, my usual wrestles leg that would see my right leg jerking forward uncontrollably started to work it’s evil way up my body. Halfway through the programme I would find, every so often, my entire body being vibrated bolt upright and physically shaken when the wrestles leg kicked in.

Tommy And I Marching On Parade And Fabulously In Step
Tommy And I Marching On Parade And Fabulously In Step

Cocoa was having to wear a dog’s version of a baby grow to stop her from licking her wound after being spayed. This I knew to unpop before taking her out for a pee and poo but without fail I managed to take her out for a pee not realising I had forgotten to unpop her baby grow until I went to do it up again once back inside. More unnecessary washing for Allie. I have managed to leave the gas on after making lunch. Thankfully Allie spotted it and turned it off. When I was trying to wrap a puzzle and picture frame with a birthday letter for posting to a nephew it took forever. I kept putting the wrong bits of puzzle in the wrong places despite following a step by step guide on how to do it. I completed the wrapping only to discover that I had failed to put some of the puzzle pieces in despite trying to count them in to the envelope to be sure. I had to undo everything and start again. Then I couldn’t find the scissors and found that I had put everything else away in the wrong places. Allie once again came to save the day as I vented my frustration at my failing brain. In the repacking of the present I managed to draw blood, quite a bit of blood on the Sellotape dispenser. I managed to get some blood on the letter and envelope so had to redo that again too. I keep misjudging distances and clashing plates together as I try to be helpful and empty the dishwasher. Allie now has two plates she wants to replace and we are down a glass stock pot that Allie had had for years. While trying to play tunes I know well on the keyboard at home I discovered that I could no longer tell one note from another on the staves. I knew where Middle C was but was having to count up or down the staves to find the note on the keyboard like a primary school pupil just starting out. I used to know the notes. I have been forgetting to switch on the dishwasher in the evening to then unload the dirty contents into the cupboards in the morning. Often I would get halfway through before realising or Allie will come down and help me to realise my error. So I have to unpack everything and reload the dishwasher to wash the dirty contents.

I could go on but instead want to give thanks for Allie who cares for me so patiently, and for Cocoa who has never once complained when I have forgotten to feed her or got slightly disorientated on a walk or forgotten what it was that I was going to try to teach her. I want to say that while I am frightened of what appears to be my brain failing further, slipping further down the slippery path to Alzheimers, I am not frozen by fear.

To Bring Some Light Relief To What Is Always An Emotional Morning Of Remembrance Heather And I Traditionally Swap Coats
To Bring Some Light Relief To What Is Always An Emotional Morning Of Remembrance Heather And I Traditionally Swap Coats

I am going to continue to use diet, exercise and brain training and stimulating activity such as learning to play golf, learning to recognise the notes that I once knew to learn to play the pipe organ, learning to identify the birds, animals and trees that I once knew again, learning to dance, learning to act, learning to sing, learning to juggle, litter picking and food shopping, navigating on unknown routes through the country, and striving to be able to complete simple sentences and simple tasks with less difficulty, as vehicles on which to try to retrain and strengthen my damaged brain. Why? Because I love life and love my wife and raising money to help save and rebuild the lives of the world’s poorest through the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) is far more important than my own fear of failure in a public space.

Just yesterday I received my one hundredth sponsor and today my hundred and first sponsor. This wonderful news takes me 0.015% towards achieving my target of 640,000 people sponsoring me £1 a month to keep fighting. These sponsors took me over the £16,000 raised with each and every penny raised going to save and rebuild lives through the DEC. That gives me huge encouragement to keep fighting.

Over the last week I have seen repeatedly over social media this quote from Still moments:

“A huge shoutout to the people who haven’t felt okay lately but still get up every day and refuse to quit”

I refuse to quit.

I continue to look for sponsorship. Many have suggested that I would find life more comfortable if I was to take a chill pill and just focus on enjoying life. Yet I keep fighting and keep writing despite my neurological challenges, purely and simply to save lives; mine, and those who are starving to death as I write: men, women and children trapped in their millions in the triple whammy of COVID, warfare and climate change related natural disaster around the world in places like the Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, India, Somalia, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and the DR Congo.

Having Stolen My Glengarry Heather Swaps Hats With Tommy - That Makes Us All Smile
Having Stolen My Glengarry Heather Swaps Hats With Tommy - That Makes Us All Smile

There are 64,000,000 active current accounts in the UK. My challenge is to convince just 1% of those account holders to challenge me to keep fighting to achieve success with just £1 per month. If I succeed, I could raise over £640,000 a month with which to help save and rebuild the lives of those most in need through the Disasters Emergency Committee. With 101 sponsors so far obtained I am 0.015% of the way towards my target. It is easy to doubt that I will ever get there, but I refuse to, so please sponsor me, I guarantee, that with the generosity of:

  • The Royal Bank of Scotland.
  • Webb and Wallace Accountants in Doune.
  • MHCreations in Glasgow.
  • Key Facilities Management in Doune.

That every single penny raised goes to save and rebuild lives through the Disasters Emergency Committee. Not a single penny is lost to costs.

Every penny raised encourages me to keep fighting to prevent my brain tumour from returning as predicted, and to retrain and strengthen my brain, using my balanced daily lifestyle, the mediums of Golf, Music, Navigating over the Hills, Drama, Dance, Juggling, Litter Picking and Writing, with becoming neurologically and cognitively strong enough to one day be able to sustain myself in some form of future employment being my goal while saving lives through the DEC on the way.

Please sponsor me to make me happy. After all, happiness is the key to success.

Thank you, Keep safe, keep being brilliant.
Keeeeeeeeeeeep smiling

Yours aye with love and gratitude,


Back Home Relieved After An Emotional Morning Of Remembrance Before The Fun Starts
Back Home Relieved After An Emotional Morning Of Remembrance Before The Fun Starts