I am using my quest to windsurf solo round Britain as a fund raising vehicle for two very worthwhile charities:
1. Ralph Bates Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund
Pancreatic cancer is a cruel disease. It has a very low survival rate and time between diagnosis and death is usually measured in weeks. It takes healthy people, often in the prime of their lives, and extinguishes their light. It is responsible for about 7000 deaths per year in the UK.
The Ralph Bates Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund was set up in January 1992 following the death - to pancreatic cancer - of the actor Ralph Bates.
In 1998 a family who treated me as their own had their lives turned upside-down. Paco - a full-of-life and strong-as-an-ox builder - and father of two delightful little girls - was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The tragic reality of events unfolded. The cancer ate away at his body and this big man became small. Initially, Paco fought, and received treatment, but really there was nothing to be done. The haunted loneliness in Paco's eyes is my last memory of this kind man.
By choosing this charity I feel like I am doing something, whilst at the time of this I could do nothing. By 'doing it for Paco' I'll also find more strength when times get tough. And to those girls, now grown up, it's a way of saying 'your father is not forgotten'.
2. Supporting Tanzanian Orphans and Widows
Supporting Tanzanian Orphans and Widows (STOW) is a registered charity founded by a group of people in Suffolk in 2005. Its aim is to relieve the poverty and advance the education of orphaned or vulnerable children.
I am of the opinion that education is fundamental to creating a better world.
Obviously, windsurfing around Britain isn't going to change things that much, but if I can do my bit and help bring positive change to a few people (who can then maybe bring positive change to a few more people...etcetera) then it will be worthwhile.
There are thousands of charities involved in education. I am supporting STOW in particular because my mum and step-dad support their work, and can vouch for the fact that they are a well managed power for good.