Charity Walk April 2010

Congratulations and thank you to all those who took part in the walk, raising over £6,000.

Ashley Woodford raised over £2,000 alone and Steve Dring raised over £1,000 – a tremendous effort.

See below for more details of their adventures.

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Thursday 22 April

All up and looking forward to the day ahead – there is a spring in the step this morning! Bring on Cheltenham racecourse! Well what a day! A leisurely start to the day catching up with events of yesterday – everyone keen to get on to the race course.

We were suprised that it took an hour and ten minutes (only another 3 miles!) and it was great to see everyone, including Mike, at the entrance to the race course.

After a few photos outside we were taken to the start of the Champion Hurdle starting line for the final two miles! A big thank you to Tony Howland who greeted us and showed us to the start line – we were made very welcome (just like at the Imper………….come on Martin, leave it!!!). It was just like the real thing – up went the tape and we were off. Damian was off like a shot to savour his last two miles of his leadership of Get Dring Mobile (or maybe he knew Kelly was just on his tail reminding him that his reign was over!). Ash was like a kid – this really was the Wembley of horse racing! It was the slowest he had walked all week – allegedly soaking up the atmosphere (or had he trained for a mile and six furlongs instead of two?).

We stopped at the final fence and got together with Mike and everyone else for the climb up the famous Cheltenham hill! We crossed the line together to finish what has been a brilliant four days. We were met by Eddie Gillespie – MD of the course – a true gent who again made us very welcome and has taken one of the GDM t-shirts to get signed by a few jockeys! After a few more photos at the finishing line (where Mr Gillepsie spotted a couple of dandelions!), we were off and so a truly great 4 days were over.

Thank you to everyone who has walked ( it’s been a privilege), supported us, read our Tweets, donated money & sent texts on a daily basis.

On a final note, Damian set out a year ago to raise the funds for GDM, and today sees his final day of organising events. Over the last 4 days, it has been evident that Damian has given absolutely everything to this great cause and his passion for a great cause remains as strongly as it was at the start. Mike really has a true friend in Damian and it has been a fantasic effort by him. Well done Damian!!!

There are more events planned – see the homepage, take your pick and support GDM!!!

We will try and get some photos on in the next few days!

Weds 21 April

Apologies for the lack of blog yesterday – we feel like we have let you down, but to make up for it you’ll get a double blog today for Weds and Thursday! Anyway, lets tell you about Wednesday!

Considering the 1 star quality of the hotel in Stroud, it was no suprise to receive a 5.30am 10-green bottle alarm call. Not only were we on the mainline to Paddington, but we were sandwiched between the local glass recycling centre!

The whole event has been so positive, but there was the odd negative vibe around the hotel.  We were happy to crack on up the A46!

The first 4 (of 15) miles were all up hill to Painswick which we all enjoyed very much. Fred refused at the third mile and Time Trial specialist – Ash – just took off again! There is no catching this man when he gets his pace up! Viv took over the slog – it wasn’t fun, spirits dropped and it was a real effort to head on towards Cheltenham.

Eight miles in and Ash and Eddie spotted a pub in the distance! It was like an oasis in the desert!!! Martin and Steve’s pace quickened as they saw the pub garden. All of a sudden Ash has called a halt to proceedings! Having asked what time the pub was opening, the bloke outside painting the fence replied “FRIDAY!!!!” To say we were gutted was an understatement! It was only two miles to the next pub and it seemed like 20!

A good lunch at the Cheese Rollers pub although the wait when we first arrived made the drinks taste even better! Ash enjoyed the WI discussions and can now make jam and crochet a cardigan! He loves that sort of thing while waiting for a pint!

Heading off all together for the first time (still on the A46!), it really was a struggle – after another 5 miles and two hours we finally landed in Cheltenham – Ash & Martin were particulary pleased that The Big Sleep was a quality hotel – well done Damian on a 67% hotel success rate (and The Swan in Wootten under Edge was great as well!).

As soon as we arrived, everyone scurried off to their rooms for a well deserved bath and rest!

At 5 O’clock, we received a phone call from Graham Chamberlin who had earlier set off from Bristol Parkway to run the 50 miles to Cheltenham! What a legend – he had taken 8 hours. He had two pints of Becks and disappeared as quick as he had arrived! The GDM committee would like to thank Graham for a superb effort!

After a few beers, we all went to Gianni’s- recommend to anyone – food and service excellent. Great value as well! We had recovered! The jubilation in the group was obvious to see and hear!

A few more more beers to finish a great evening, we are close to the finish line!!!

Tuesday 20 April – by Ash

After a quite a steady evening, Damian was going to take the walk by storm today! Unfortunately for Damian it didn’t turn out that way – he was like Usain Bolt for the first 100 yards, then we hit the first summit, which I must admit frightened the life out of me! Damian (with his David Bellamy hat on) quickened up the hill for the first 50 yards then hit the wall!!! and I took over! For the next 2 miles I was like Shergar, then all of a sudden the wheels came off!!!

We then proceeded to hit the Cotswold Way. Put it this way – if Hannibal would have tried taking his elephants up these hills, they would have told him to stick the hills where the sun don’t shine!

The second day was definately won by Martin Henry, followed by Stevie Dring but the medals must go to Michael’s mum who excelled in a way Red Rum would be proud of (I don’t mean that she looks like a horse!).  When we first come up with this idea of walking from Bristol to Cheltenham, we thought it would be a doddle but I would defy anyone to walk the Cotswold Way and not be in awe of the actual effort that it took. It really was a massive effort by the team!

We eventually arrived at our hotel and everyone after one drink was very proud of the effort put in. Then we started on Damian for putting us through it!!! Being it was his decision to walk that poxy Cotswold Way (and not the road that the team wanted to!) – being that we walked twice as far as we could have done!

After taking in the hotel that he has booked and the surroundings we quickly found that the location would decide that the lovely sleep that we are all looking forward is not going to happen! We are 20 yards from the mainline from Stroud to Paddington!!!

As a religious man, I like to relax in my room and read a few chapters from the Gideons and as I opened my bedside draw, I knew the standard of the hotel when the Big Issue fell out!!!

I am pretty sure the editor of Johanson’s Hotel Guide has got no worries about losing his job as long as Damian is in charge of booking accomodation for GDM!!!

Photos to follow!

Yours in hotel management

Ashley Park -Lane-Woodford

PS I’ve only made these comments because our Damian enjoys a bit of banter and I am really very proud of the way he has organised the whole GDM experience.

Joke of the Day: We thought we saw a volcano erupt near Stroud, but we thought we’d wait for the dust to settle before going further!

Monday 19th April

Quote of the day from Steve (Mike’s brother)

“My left arm swelled up, i thought I was aving a heart attack, he’s not f******* worth it” (a tad harsh)

Runner up “I thought women packed a lot of clothes” (Viv Dring)

Now to the events of the day….

Live from The Swan in W-u-E

Bit of map-reading on Siston before the off – Damian, Ash & Eddie late starters! No maps for the support car. Once round a field in Pucklechurch (no need for a compass!) which included a climb around a field (in the field, up a hill, along it, down it, back out the field  and back up the hill!) First stop – Fleur De Lys, Pucklecurch – no time to wait as Ash was keen to crack on through the countryside to Yate Shopping Centre (Damian applied his insect repellent to ward off any stragglers from Spirals nightclub!). Eddie and Fred took up their 5 minutes of the alloted lunch break which had started an hour before (Good work Ash!).

Lunch in the White Lion before taking on the walk to Wickwar, Kingswood (no not the ‘Wood!) and on to Wootten Under edge. Ash set the pace again with Steve. Damian, Eddie and Martin jogged a stretch to keep up, but the hill at W-u-E took its toll and Ash & Steve had ordered the beer for our arrival!

Beer being served as we type – can’t find the Lucozade Guiness or Isotonic Cider but we will survive another day! Ash is already at the stable door waiting for tomorrow’s walk! He’s already promising to walk to Stroud and back before breakfast!!!

Off for dinner and a few pints!

Get Dring Mobile, yours in walks

Sir Ian Botham.

Sunday 18th April


We were lucky with the weather as it turned out to be the best day of the year so far.  About 40 of us made the walk from Oldland to Siston.  The route we followed was mainly down a beautiful and busy Bath to Bristol cycle track.  There was a variety of different methods used to complete the course; the adults enjoyed a nice stroll whilst the youngest amongst us had the benefit of being pushed on such a hot day.  Unfortunately some parents drew the short straw and had to provide shoulder rides for their exhausted toddlers.  The favoured form of transport for the children, however, was the scooter but even this bunch could not keep up with the phenomenal pace set by Donny (10) and his younger sister Bella (6).  London 2012 may come a little soon for them but maybe in a few more years we may see them on the Olympic stage.

Many thanks to everyone who took part in what was such an enjoyable occasion and thanks to all of you who sponsored our efforts.  We anticipate for the family fun run alone we will make about £800.

The main walk starts tomorrow when we shall be departing from Siston at 10.00am.  The weather seems set fair so expected to see plenty of images including sun hats, shorts, bottled water and possibly one or two drinks of the less hydrating liquid.

Friday 16th April

All the arrangements are now in place and we are just hoping the fine weather continues and that we get a good turnout on Sunday (18th April).  I spoke with the Horse Shoe pub today who said they would be happy to welcome all walkers into the bar for drinks.

With regards to the main walk, from Siston Common to Cheltenham Race course (19th – 22nd April), we have bought the maps, compass, walking boots, insect repellent and are now ready to face the wild terrain, as well as the numerous public houses, that stand between us and Cheltenham.  We will be keeping the blog, and twitter account http://twitter.com/damianwhittard , updated regularly with text, images and hopefully video, so please keep coming back for regular updates.

In order to make the walk a little more interesting, we are going to complete a different challenge each day on the main walk.  Monday’s challenge will be decided at the family fun walk on Sunday.  If you have any suggestions for subsequent challenges we could complete on our way to Cheltenham, we would love to hear from you.  Please email damianwhittard@tiscali.co.uk with your suggestions and visit this site to see how we get on.

The planned route and itinerary –

Day 1 – Siston Common to Wotton under Edge

Route 15 miles

Meet at Siston Common at 9.30 for 10.00 Depart

Arrive at Wotton under Edge at around 17.00

Accommodation: The Swan Hotel http://swanhotelwotton.co.uk/default.aspx

Itinerary day 2 – Wotton under Edge to Stroud

Route 13 miles

Depart 10.30

Arrive 16.00

Accommodation: The Imperial Hotelhttp://www.theimperialstroud.co.uk/

Itinerary day 3 – Stroud to Cheltenham

Route 15 miles

Depart 10.00

Arrive 16.00

Accommodation: The Big Sleep Hotel http://www.thebigsleephotel.com/

Itinerary morning day 4 – Cheltenham to racecourse

Route 2 miles

Depart 11.00

Arrive 12.00

Itinerary afternoon day 4 – Walk Cheltenham Racecourse

Route 2 miles

We have permission from Edward Gillespie (MD Cheltenham Racecourse) to walk the Champion Hurdle course (2 miles)

12.00 – 13.30

Depart for Bristol 14.00

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2 Responses to “Charity Walk April 2010”

  1. Fi Says:

    Sunday’s walk was brilliant, thoroughly enjoyed it, thanks to Damian for organising it. Very proud of ‘the walkers’ in the middle of the Bristol to Cheltenham walk and loving the blog updates. Keep it up peeps nearly there.

  2. steve risdale Says:

    Ash was unlucky with the volcano in Iceland otherwise he would have surely flown (first class of course)

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