Colin and Angela Smith are celebrating 10 years of volunteering and fundraising for Martlets. Here, Colin shares some of the fundraising highlights from his ‘daredevil’ decade.
Ten years ago, I took part in my first sponsored events for Martlets. I did a ‘Noon Walk’ followed by a ‘Midnight Walk’ and Angela helped out with the teas. We really enjoyed it and I said I’d sign up for more events and it progressed from there.
I’m now in my 70s and I had no idea back then that I’d take up the challenge of a sponsored skydive – not bad for someone who has to take vertigo tablets! It was terrifying up in the plane just before it happened and my hands were gripping so tightly to the seat they had to peel them off for me, but it was worth it. I wasn’t so keen on the feeling when the parachute opened and flung me upwards, but the freefall was like being Superman – so exhilarating. I hadn’t done anything like that until I turned 70, but the skydive made me think ‘that’s a satisfying feeling, what’s next?!’
Then came the abseiling – down the cliffs at Peacehaven, Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth and the i360 in Brighton. The last two challenges I shared between two charities, but was still able to raise several thousand pounds for Martlets. Both abseils were much longer than the skydive so there’s was more time to think about what was happening, which made it a bit harder, but it was still fun.
Although I take on the challenges, helping out is gratifying for Angela. She’s had a difficult time with her health and knows just how important medical support services are. My grandchildren come along and watch me too – they call me ‘daredevil grandad’.
We’ve enjoyed helping out at dozens of different events, done numerous supermarket collections and delivered thousands of leaflets for companies, with the money going to Martlets. I was also proud to take part in a sponsored walk to all 10 Martlets shops, starting in Lewes – further than a marathon distance! I’d hoped to get to all the shops in one day, but it took eight hours and as some of them closed late afternoon I finished the route the next day. I wanted to sign in at every shop to prove I’d done it and I finished up at Martlets, at the hospice.
A five-figure total
Our 10 years of fundraising have raised a five–figure total for Martlets and we’re still doing our bit. Along with a neighbour, we save our five-pence pieces in a jar – a small but simple way to help. It takes us about a month to fill a big jar and there’s usually about £50 or £60 pounds in it if we manage to get other people involved too.
Next up we’re helping out at the Jingle Jumble which we’re looking forward to and Angela’s also busy knitting beany hats for Martlets shops to sell. In terms of daredevil activities, there’s a wing walk coming up next year for Martlets. There was a film made in the 1930s – Flying Down to Rio – with lots of girls standing along the wings doing synchronised movements. It was wonderful and I always thought that was the ultimate in daredevil thing to try, but as I suffer from vertigo I might give that one a miss and Angela’s not too keen on me doing it.
What I’d really love to do instead is the zip wire up in Wales, it’s called Zip World and you’re strapped in lying flat and go speeding headfirst along the wire. Perhaps that’s something to aim for in the new year!