Time and tide wait for no man.21/02/2012 12:18 GMT
2012....it's here. It's amazing how quickly time seems to pass when you are looking back. The past year has flown by and I now find myself beginning to feel the reality of my NY2SY challenge. It's also amazing how much is still left to do, more than ever it seems, but I know that feeling just comes from the pressure of counting down to the launch day in weeks instead of months. 2012 is really here.
The Open Day Rotation
The NY2SY fundraising gig that was held between Christmas and New Year at the Woodlands Centre in Stornoway was a great success and I am so grateful to all the organisers, performers and the audience who seemed to really enjoy themselves...and little wonder when you consider the talented musicians who took to the stage over the course of the evening. It's a privelege to be able to sit and listen to such gifted singers and songwriters and you really should make the effort to listen to these great artistes:
THE BOY WHO TRAPPED THE SUN http://www.myspace.com/theboywhotrappedthesun
THE OPEN DAY ROTATION http://www.myspace.com/williecampbelltheopendayrotation
MATA MACDONALD http://www.myspace.com/matamacdonald
THE SEA ATLAS http://soundcloud.com/theseaatlas
MISS IRENIE ROSE http://www.myspace.com/55654716
You can get a wee taste of the special atmosphere from that night by watching this sublime performance from The Guireans, who treated us to a seminal rendition of "Airidhbhruach":
I must also thank all those who donated items for the prize raffle and auction, it wasn't hard to sell the raffle tickets with such brilliant prizes on offer and so I must give a mention to the following:
ABHAINN DEARG DISTILLERY http://www.abhainndearg.com
DIGBY CHICK http://www.digbychick.co.uk
RAMADA ENCORE INVERNESS http://www.encoreinverness.co.uk
CLAIRE WHYMAN OPTOMETRIST http://www.clairewhymanoptometrisths1.co.uk/
THE FLYING MONK http://www.theflyingmonk.co.uk
HEBRIDEAN CELTIC FESTIVAL http://www.hebceltfest.com
TIGER TEXTILES http://tigertextiles.moonfruit.com/
BODY & SOLE http://www.bodyandsolestornoway.co.uk/
THE KRAKEN BLACK SPICED RUM http://www.krakenrum.com
BEYOND IT PROMOTIONS http://www.beyondhighlands.com/
THE CEILIDH PLACE http://www.theceilidhplace.com
MACLEOD & MACLEOD BUTCHERS
Also thanks to Maggie and the staff at the Woodlands Centre for looking after us all and to Keith Morrison from Wee Studio http://www.facethewest.co.uk/weestudio/ for looking after sound on the night, which means being first in and last out.
A grand total of £2600 was raised and the biggest thank you of all must go to Innes 'Fabster' Morrison for orgainising the whole thing, nobad.
December also saw the beginning of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, a race across the Atlantic Ocean from the Canary Islands to Barbados. 17 teams set off but the Atlantic Ocean has been a tough place to be this year and many of those taking part encountered various problems and there were a few capsizes that resulted in some boats retiring. I was giving my support to the Row2Recovery boys and they were making great progress, in either 3rd or 4th place for most of the race, before they themselves hit trouble when their watermaker failed. Unable to repair it, they had to resort to rationing the emergency provisions of fresh water that they carried as ballast until the support yacht was able to resupply them and allow them to complete the race. They must have been gutted to have been held up in this way but their predicament received a lot of media coverage and this really raised the profile of the fundraising efforts for http://www.helpforheroes.org.uk Well done to Alex and the crew, what an adventure. The race was won by the 2-man crew of "Box Number 8" who crossed the finish line just a few minutes ahead of "JJ", a solo boat. "Tiger Team" were the last crew to arrive in Barbados at the weekend, meaning that 11 teams successfully made it across. Congratulations to them all for their efforts.
Row2Recovery arriving in Barbados.
I have been in touch with many people as part of my own preparations for NY2SY and two of those whom have offered me advice have had mixed fortunes out in the Atlantic this year. I have exchanged a few e-mails with Mark Beaumont and was really gutted for him, and the whole crew of "Sara G", who were trying to break the 30 day barrier for rowing across the Atlantic. The 6 man crew had set off from Morocco at the beginning of January and were at least on course to break the record for the fastest crossing, even if the 30 day record was out of their reach, when they suffered a capsize about 500 miles from Barbados. They were very unlucky in that they were capsized during a crew change which meant that the cabin hatch would have been open and so the boat was flooded. Thankfully, after spending several hours in a liferaft, the crew were picked up by a cargo ship and they emerged from the incident unharmed. The 30 day barrier is one of the most sought after records in ocean rowing and more crews will be making an attempt on it over the coming months, I wish them well.
In contrast, the German rower Janice Jakait is nearing the end of her fantastic solo row from southern Portugal to Barbados http://www.rowforsilence.com/en/. Her most recent update simply read "LAND!" and she is very close to completing her 3 month voyage. She seems to have had an incredible experience and seen more wildlife than most ocean rowers see...she was even bumped by a whale whilst cleaning the hull of her boat!! She has run a very professional and effective campaign and I can't imagine how she must be feeling as she nears the end of her row. Well done Janice!
The NY2SY refit team.
So, what about NY2SY? Well, the boat refit is currently underway and I am pleased with how things are going, though there have been some delays. There are no big jobs to do but the new seating system is the main focus and it has required us to strengthen the deck. New hatches are also being installed and some of the electrics will need to be altered as well. I have been very fortunate to have Leven Brown http://www.oceanrowevents.com overseeing this work and it has been great to have his insight into the best set up for a boat that is going to tackle the North Atlantic route. Leven has been joined by a small team of experienced and knowledgable locals who have very kindly agreed to assist with the refit. It was important to me that the refit work was carried out on the island and I am very grateful to Tony Morrison, Angus Smith http://www.beyondthebluehorizon.co.uk/ and Gordon Maclennan http://www.stornowayplastics.com for all their help. Also a big thank you to CalMac http://www.calmac.co.uk and Loganair http://www.loganair.co.uk for their continued support.
The task of securing the finances to pay for NY2SY continues and I am delighted to have secured the services of Weber Shandwick http://www.webershandwick.co.uk, one of the world's leading global public relations firms, to help spread the word about NY2SY and hopefully attract some more businesses to become involved in the project through corporate sponsorship. I am very much looking forward to working with them over the coming months and feel that this development can really make a big difference to the project. I have also produced a video which I have been distributing to potential sponsors and it's already had a great response and I must thank Ged Yeates http://www.gedyeates.co.uk for his patience and skill in producing the video for me (did I say that produced it? Ahem!).
Ged Yeates working his magic on the NY2SY video.
You can view the video here: http://vimeo.com/35948614 and please feel free to forward the link to anyone who you think might be able to help.
As ever, thanks to everyone for their messages of support.
I'd like to dedicate this diary entry to the memory of John Fairfax, one of the first and one of the best. RIP.
Light and dark.16/12/2011 14:03 GMT
After a few weeks of self-imposed incarceration, I stepped out into the beautiful low winter sun yesterday and soaked up the sunlight, weak sunlight admittedly, but they were Vitamin D inducing rays none the less. The island has been battered by gales recently and even the numerous Christmas lights that have appeared all around Stornoway have struggled to raise spirits.
I have been "locked away" for a while now as I continue to try and secure the sponsorship that I badly need to finance my NY2SY challenge. There has been progress though and I must thank those who have recently shown such belief in NY2SY and it's aims for their generosity...... and their patience, all will be revealed soon! It's always a great feeling to receive an e-mail or phone call with the offer of sponsorship and these approaches always seem to come just when I am beginning to lose faith a bit. Peaks and troughs. I sometimes feel that I have exhausted all possible avenues for sponsorship but then I'll see an article or advert in the paper, see a logo on a passing lorry or pick up an idea from a conversation and then it's straight onto the laptop and sending out more e-mails or putting in more phone calls to whatever company or business has come into my thoughts. I have calculated that I have raised about 50% of budgeted costs for NY2SY. I feel that this has been a huge achievement given the current financial climate but then the more I think about it, it's only half an achievement. So there is still 50% of the funding for NY2SY to be secured and it is out there somewhere....and I will find it.
There have been some changes behind the scenes and, after agreement on both sides, NY2SY and Lucid PR http://www.lucidmessages.com will no longer be working together. It's all very amicable, both parties just felt that it was for the best if we went our separate ways, and I would like to thank Peter, Suzanne and the team at Lucid PR for all their help with NY2SY. The eventual success of NY2SY will owe a lot to their efforts over the past year and I am very grateful to them for being involved in the project.
The boat is now safely stored away at the WITPG Museum http://www.witpg.org.uk and work will begin in the New Year on refitting her and getting her ready for the test that lies ahead. The boat is in good condition and the hull only needs some superficial work. One of the biggest jobs will be replacing the seat to ensure that I have a much smoother, and quieter, ride when I am at sea. New navigation, communication and survival equipment will be installed and I'll make some basic modifications from the various notes I have made from my training rows over the summer. I still have a couple of courses to do before I myself am ready so it's going to be an exciting and busy start to the year.
There are plenty of ocean rowers who have been through what I am currently experiencing and have perserved to see their own projects take to the waves successfully. As I write, the various teams taking part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge http://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com are approaching the end of their second week at sea. This is an annual race from La Gomera, Canary Islands, to Port St.Charles, Barbados and it's become more and more popular over the years. The majority of people who can claim to have rowed across an ocean will probably have done so as part of this race. 17 teams set off a fortinight ago and I have been following 2 of them keenly as I was fortunate enough to meet some members of each respective team over the past year. Barnaby Mabbs signed up very late to partner John Higson in the boat 'Go Commando', as he told me when I met him in Edinburgh during the NY2SY Boat Tour. He had heard that someone was looking for a replacement crew member and decided to go for it....just 2 months before the start of the race! Barnaby and John are making steady progress, though they seem to have taken a more southerly route than the other teams. You can find out more about them and their project here: http://www.h2row.com
The team that I have chosen to give my full support to are called Row2Recovery and they are currently in 3rd place. I was lucky enough to meet some of them earlier this year when I travelled to Devon to collect my boat. They are a 6 man team, 4 of whom sustained serious injuries whilst serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. This resulted in 3 of them losing lower limbs and enduring many months of rehabilitation.
Meeting some of the crew of Row2Recovery in May this year.
They have run an amazing campaign for their chosen charity Help For Heroes and it's worth taking some time to read about their story on their website: http://www.row2recovery.com
All the teams have suffered various problems but one team has suffered more than most. The 2 man crew of PS Vita suffered a capsize and had to be rescued by a cuise ship that came to their aid. This is their own account of the events, taken from their website: http://www.teamtomatlanticrow.com
"At apr 8.00 pm last night (dec 13) Tom and myself were just changing places. The ocean was quite calm. We were in great spirits after the first 8 days in the race. Suddenly our boat was rocked by an enormous wave- the size of which we’ve never seen before. Our boat was thrown over and capsized. The cabin flooded. We desperately tried to turn the boat back up again- but to no avail. In fact our PSVita/teamtom boat started to sink. We managed to get the life raft and life jackets out during some very nervous and difficult moments. We entered the life raft and saw our dream literally sink in the Ocean. We floated for about ten hours in the night on the life raft until we were rescued by the Crystal Cruise Ocean Liner. We are obviously very disappointed but at the first place very happy to be alive and very grateful to our rescuers. We are now heading for St Maarten and will come back with a full report shortly. We wish all the other Woodvale participants best of luck!’
It's very rare for an ocean rowing boat to sink, and they seem to have been very unlucky, but it's reminder of the dangers that are involved.
Not far behind the boats taking part in the Talsiker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is a German lady called Janice Jakait, who is doing a solo row from Portimao, Southern Portugal, to Antigua. Janice set off on the 23rd November has has been making impressive progress since and she is now just passing to the north west of the Canary Islands. Her boat 'Bifröst' is quite similar to mine and I have been in touch with her several times over the past few months via Facebook. Janice is following a route similar to that taken by Leven Brown in 2005/06, when he rowed from Cadiz, Spain, to Trinidad & Tobago, becoming the first person ever to complete this row, known as the 'Columbus Run'. Janice has put a lot of effort into her project and it's great to see her getting on so well. You can track her progress and keep up to date with her blogs and photos here: http://www.rowforsilence.com/en
I'll get a couple of days away from all things NY2SY at Christmas but then it's straight back to it...with a fundraising gig in Stornoway :) I had been thinking about doing something like this for a while but never seemed to find the time to organise it. Luckily, my good friend Innes 'Fabster' Morrison from Honcho Promotions stepped forward and had the whole thing set up in just a couple of days! Thanks also to Keith Morrison from Wee Studio www.weestudio.co.uk and Maggie at the Woodlands Centre.
Of course, it would be a pretty rubbish gig without any music and I am very grateful to all the musicians who have agreed to perform on the night:
THE BOY WHO TRAPPED THE SUN http://www.myspace.com/theboywhotrappedthesun
THE OPEN DAY ROTATION http://www.myspace.com/williecampbelltheopendayrotation
MATA MACDONALD http://www.myspace.com/matamacdonald
THE SEA ATLAS http://soundcloud.com/theseaatlas
MISS IRENIE ROSE http://www.myspace.com/556547168
Tickets are on sale now from An Lanntair Box Office £10
If you can't make it along on the night then I would urge you to listen to the music via the links above. Great music from some very talented people.
I'll write a bit more before the end of the year but in the meantime, I hope that you all have a fantastic Christmas and thanks to everyone for all your support.
I'd like to dedicate this dairy entry to everyone who has their oars in the ocean just now.
Mobilis in mobili04/11/2011 19:56 GMT
"Understandably, I was a high-risk option for their marketing dollars and the world was in a financial crisis, but each rejection somehow made me even more determind to get across the ditch in spite of them. Initially, the rejection letters or e-mails would throw me back a bit and made me reflect on what I was doing, thinking that perhaps people just aren't all that interested. While I did my best to stay motivated and enthusiastic, each 'No' does chip a little bit away from you."
- extract from "Tasman Trespasser II" by Shaun Quincey
I could have written those words myself, perhaps the same is true for anyone who is trying to raise a substantial amount of money for something they truly believe in. There is a constant frustration of not understanding why others don't share the same passion or "get it", and moments where you question the viability of the whole thing. Shaun Quincey successfully rowed solo across the Tasman Sea, from Australia to New Zealand, in 2010. His book about the row was given to me recently and I have really enjoyed reading it and have taken a strange comfort in the fact that he had many of the same struggles that I am now experiencing, so I am not taking the setbacks as personally as I used to. But progress is being made and the past few weeks have been busy, but hugely beneficial for NY2SY.
I have been a regular at the Loopallu Festival over the past few years and always look forward to making the trip across the Minch to Ullapool for the "best little fest in the west". Usually I just take a tent, some clothes, some friends and a carry out....this time took a 23 ft long ocean rowing boat. The organisers of the festival had very kindly given me permission to have the boat on display at the festival site and I jumped at the chance of spending 2 days telling the punters all about NY2SY.
The boat at the festival site. Loopallu '11
It was a fantastic weekend and I still smile when I think back at some of the things that happened (by that, I mean some of the characters we met!). We were kept busy answering numerous questions, signing people up for Faceboat and occasionally dissuading a few folks from taking the boat for a test-row. The heaven's did open a few times and we gained instant popularity with our gazebo, though it did seem to let in more rain than it kept out. Although there were plenty bands playing at the festival, we were so busy that we only managed to catch Admiral Fallow, and we could only see them through the window of the pub as it was so full!
Admiral Fallow play to a packed Ferry Boat Inn. Loopallu '11
I should be back in time for Loopallu next year and hope that my blisters will have healed sufficiently for me to be able to hold a pint. We raised over £1000 for NY2SY and I'd like to thank everyone for their generosity...it's never easy getting people to part with their beer money :) Special thanks to Rob Hicks and his team at Loopallu http://www.loopallu.co.uk, Caledonian MacBrayne http://www.calmac.co.uk and AJ Ross for all their help.
My training has taken a bit of a back seat lately as I continue to seek out corporate sponsorship and organise all the other things that are required to make sure the project is on track. There is also the constant job of trying to get press and media coverage for what I am doing, it's very important in terms of letting as many people as possible know about NY2SY and being able to prove to potential sponsors that they will get exposure through being involved. I have been quite happy with how things have been going so far, it's always going to be hard to attract coverage when things are just at the organising stage. There is always the initial buzz and interest at the start whe you announce your intention and then things tend to quieten down until nearer the time of departure. With that in mind, I was delighted to be asked to be a guest on a show on Monster FM http://www.monsterfm.co.uk, a radio station run by Moray Firth Radio Trust, that aims to develop radio skills in the future generation of DJs and production people. It's only on-air for a month each year so I was glad that Janice Boag found time to include me in her bi-lingual programme where she, and her very lively 2 co-presenters Anne and Fiona, quizzed me about NY2SY....they had some unexpected questions! It was great fun and you just never know who might be listening?! Thanks to the ladies for letting me be on the show and for being (relatively) gentle with me!
I haven't managed to spend as much time in the boat this summer as I would have liked...mostly because I have been tied to the laptop sending e-mails and researching. The boat also spends a lot of time out of the water as I try and use her as much as possible for marketing NY2SY. She was the star of the show when I undertook a tour of various Scottish towns over the course of a week last month , when she was on display to allow people to see an ocean rowing boat close up and also get some much needed pennies in the NY2SY bucket. Planning the tour was good practise for me as there was a lot involved logistically in dealing with several different local councils, making sure I had the right paperwork to satisfy each ones demands!
First day of the Boat Tour in Stornoway. Inclement.
The tour started in STORNOWAY on a wet, miserable, breezy, grey day that has been all to common this summer in Lewis. We were situated in Perceval Square and were hidden behind the local Farmer's Market for the most of the morning. This wasn't a problem though as hardly anyone was around not to see us and the stallholder's were very generous with their donations to us which included local grapes (from Ness!) and a few much needed sandbags (the gazebo kept trying to leave early). I was ablely assisted by my friend Alison and her brother Paul, and later Ruth made an appearance, and we were very grateful to the kind souls who stopped by with cups of coffee and even a couple of cakes to make sure that we managed to stay upright. We may not have been inundated with passers-by but those who did appear were very generous and I was very suprised to see how much money was swimming in the bottom of the bucket! We also met a dentist from Greenland who was really interesting to talk to and invited me to visit him....not sure I can include that in my itinerary for next year but you never know?
The Boat Tour then moved on to INVERNESS, where I was brought up, and the sun was shining for us in Falcon Square. A truce was called to over 30 years of conflict as my sister Seonaid volunteered to help me out on the day, and I have to admit that I would have struggled without her (you have no idea how hard that is to write!). It was a busy day as shoppers took some time from their spending sprees to come and see the boat and throw some loose change our way. I also met a lot of people that I had not seen for quite a while....a mix of old schoolfriends, relatives and even a couple of ex-girlfriends! It was also good to put faces to the names of people who have been following NY2SY via Facebook and whom I had never actually met....must also mention Linda and Isobel for the chocolate and Catherine for her goodie-bag.
The boat in Falcon Square, Inverness
There was also quite a lot of press interest throughout the day and I did feel a little bit self-conscious as I stood there grinning in a variety of poses as the people who were stood waiting at the bus stop looked on. My Dad even made an appearance, which shows the magnitude of the event, and he gave me much the same look as the folks waiting for the bus! Thanks to all who came along and special mentionn to Yvonne and Bruce at Bogbain Farm http://www.bogbainfarm.com for babysitting my boat again.
The boat in the wrong place on St.Nicholas Street, Aberdeen
ABERDEEN was the next stop and I was up very early to set up in St.Nicholas St, right in the city centre. I was to find out later that I had set up in the wrong place but the Council official took pity on me and let me be (I have perfected the glaikit look!). It's always good to have help as I get pulled all over the place between talking to people, doing interviews for various press and catching up with long lost relatives! I was very fortunate that a young guy who has been following NY2SY for a while, offered to help out and I'd like ti say a big thank you to Josh Banks for sacrificing a day of his school holidays to help me, top guy!
Myself and Josh Banks in Aberdeen. Thanks for all your help mate!
We were just as busy as we had been the previous day and the time passed in a whirlwind of questions, interviews, photographs and more questions. As well as managing to convince Aberdonians to donate to the cause (not as much of a challenge as some might think) I was also delighted to accept a cheque from CNR International (UK) http://www.cnrl.com for £1000!
Barry Duncan presents me with a cheque on behalf of CNR International (UK) whilst Craig Brown looks elsewhere!
A fantastic gesture from them and I am very grateful to Barry Duncan, Laura Ewen and especially Murdo MacRitchie from the company for all their support. CNR International will now have their logo on the boat, I hope others will join them! But it wasn't just the locals who were showing an interest....I spoke to a man from Chile (one of my favourite places in the world), Slovenia, Canada and also a great group of Venezualan tourists, whom I had actually first met the day before in Inverness....."hola Neeeeeeeeeell!". I was also lucky enough to meet Craig Brown, the manager of Aberdeen FC, who I support. CNR International used their contacts to get him to come along for some photos and he seemed very interested in my project and even suggested putting the boat between the posts at Pittodrie to help stop the goals ;) A lovely guy and I wish him and The Mighty Dons all the best for the rest of the season.There was also the constant stream of relatives (it's an island thing) and I have promised them that I will not try anything else after NY2SY...though I didn't actually sign anything ;)
The next stop was PERTH. I rolled up outside the Perth Concert Hall and got ready for the day ahead...erect gazebo, set up table, position boat, fiddle with gazebo, display signs, wonder why I brought the gazebo. As most of Perth city centre is being dug up I didn't have many options for where I could have the boat on display and it was a very quiet day as I was a bit off the beaten track. But I still enjoyed my time there as I did make some contacts, met some lovely people and it didn't rain.
Quiet day outside the Perth Concert Hall.
I was really pleased to get the chance to meet John Mollison who tried to row solo across the North Atlantic in 2009. Unfortunately, due to a communications failure and other technical problems, he had to abandon his attempt after 3 weeks at sea. As well as getting advice from those who have successfully completed ocean rows, it's also helpful to hear from those who had problems and never made it the whole way across. This might sound a bit harsh, but by hearing about their experiences you hope not to make the same mistakes or lessen the chances of having similar problems. Ocean rowers understand this and it really shows just how much luck is involved with such challenges. Some get it, some don't. We compared notes and I listened to what John had to say, about both the route and my boat, and I made plenty of mental notes. Once again, John's attitude to my own project shows the support and goodwill that exists within the ocean rowing community, it's a priceless thing to have such advice and information available from people who have been there and can understand what it's all about. I'd like to thank John for taking the time to come along and meet me and I am sure that I'll be asking him plenty more questions between now and May! Thanks also to Stuart, Yana, Jay and wee Skye for the soup!
Taking up most of Castle Street, Edinburgh
Next day found the boat sitting in the shadow of EDINBURGH Castle as NY2SY rolled into the capital city. We had been allocated a cracking spot just off Princes Street and had the added bonus of having the La Senza models gazing at us from from the nearby shop!
37 goin on 13!
I knew that this was going to be a busy day and was therefore delighted when my friend Roger stepped up to help me out. He did a great job throughout the day and I am considering him for a full-time role within NY2SY ;) I had some interest from press and media as well as fielding many different questions from inquisitive passers-by. I met Barnaby Mabbs who was going to be rowing in the Woodvale Race (Canaries - Antugua) in December, as part of a pairs team, and he had only signed up to do it a couple of weeks previously! I'd like to wish all the very best to Barnaby and his fellow rower John Higson for there upcoming adventure, find out more about it here: http://www.h2row.com There was the now mandatory mix of relatives and friends, as well as the continuing international interest, this time I spoke to people from Colombia, Spain, Holland, Australia and an didgeridoo player from California! I also ended the day with a pocket full of business cards and I hope that at least a few of these interested parties become a part of the NY2SY project in some way.
Buchanan Street, Glasgow (photo courtesy of Lesley Shaw)
Last day. Last city. Hello GLASGOW! I had Donald Dewar keeping an eye on proceedings as the boat was on display at the foot of his statue on Buchanan Street. This was always going to be the busiest day and it didn't disappoint so I would glad to be reunited with my right-hand (wo)man Alison, who is now a font of knowledge about all things NY2SY and she also has the gift of the gab. Reinforcements arrived in the form of my cousin Mairi and between us we did a great job, even if I do say so myself (and I just did). People were naturally very inquisitive about the boat and she had many admirers throughout the day. The amount of relatives that I met in Glasgow was just ridiculous and even I didn't know that I had that many...was there anyone left on Barra that day?!? Seriously though, it was great to see them all and I wish that I could see them more often. I know that they are worried about me but I hope that they understand my reasons for putting them all through this. Again, many interesting contacts were made, some that are already looking promising! I also received more gifts and would like to thank Margaret for her hand-crafted present and Clanadonia for the CD http://www.clanadonia.co.uk and being the soundtrack to the day ;)
Myself with Clanadonia
It was a great week and I am very grateful to everyone who donated to the cause, we raised almost £2000 for NY2SY! The tour was only made possible by the kind support of:
Caledonian MacBrayne http://www.calmac.co.uk
Mackinnon Self Drive http://www.mackinnonselfdrive.co.uk
Stornoway Lifeboat Station http://www.rnli.org.uk
I'd also like to thank the representatives of the various local councils who helped me pull the whole tour together at relatively short notice, much appreciated. Thanks also to Suzanne Kane at Lucid PR http://www.lucidmessages.com for all her hard work throughout the week. And of course, a huge thank you to Alison, Paul, Ruth, Seonaid, Josh, Roger and Mairi for helping me out during the week (and Kenny for holding up the gazebo).
Kenny holding up the gazebo
The boat tour had been planned to coincide with Mental Health Week and it meant a lot to me to have people tell me that they thought that NY2SY was a good thing and and I know that SAMH has a lot of support for the work they do. Thanks to everyone for their kind words.
So it was back to Stornoway with the boat but it wasn't long before I was back in Glasgow as I had been very kindly invited to attend the St. James's Place Foundation Charity Dinner in Oran Mor in the city. I was a guest of Angus Macleod, a partner in the company, and a great supporter of NY2SY. He not only provided me with a fine dinner and a few glasses of champagne, but he also arranged for me to address the guests and show a short video about NY2SY.
Short video about NY2SY being show at the charity dinner in Oran Mor (photo courtesy of SJPP)
After that, I sat nervously and watched as various items that I had managed to source for the charity auction were the subject of ever increasing bids. It was incredibly tempting to raise my hand now and again just to push the price up a bit but I am sure that is unethical and I probably would have ended up buying my own items with money I don't have...which is why I was at the dinner in the first place!! I can't say that I was disappointed with the final amounts that were bid and I'd like to thank all those people who dug so deep and to the vineyards that supplied the wine that encouraged them to be so generous and help raise £3000 for NY2SY! It was a fantastic night and it was also nice just to have a "night off" as it were and relax a little. St.James's Place Foundation donate a lot of money each year to various charities and I found it quite inpsirational to watch a short film about the difference their money makes.
St. James's Place Foundation Charity Dinner, Oran Mor
They spelled my name correctly!
I am very lucky to have someone like Angus involved in NY2SY and the success of the project will owe a lot to his positivity and drive. Ceud taing a'charaid!
I'd also like to thank the St.James's Place Foundation http://www.sjp.co.uk/portal/internet/stjamessplacefoundation for allowing a scruff like me to gate-crash their event and to the ubiquitous Alison for agreeing to help me drink the champers ;)
I must give a special mention to those who so kindly donated items for the auction, amazing generosity! Thanks to:
Shirley Spear http://www.threechimneys.co.uk
Ken Macleod http://www.stena.com
Alex Morrison Boxing Promoter
also thanks to:
Alex O'Henley South Uist legend
The coming months are going to be very importnant as the launch date for NY2SY is only 6 months away and there is still a lot to do.....and much more money to raise to actually fund the row. The boat will now be taken out of the water and I will be spending most of my time in front of the laptop trying to bring the whole thing together. Everytime the phone rings, I take a deep breath before I answer....could this be the call I have been waiting for.
There may be many deep breaths between now and May but I will keep going.
As ever, thanks for your continuing support and keeop spreading the word about NY2SY to everyone and anyone!
I'd like to dedicate this diary entry to Andrew Macleod RIP. He was a long-time supporter of NY2SY and a big Runrig fan. I never actually met him but from all that I have heard about him, I think I would have liked to.