Thursday, 12 February 2015

Red Cross London Bridge Walk

My younger son and I have signed up to do the British Red Cross Red Shoe Walk in London on Saturday 9th May 2015. The 8- or 4-mile walk takes you crisscrossing from bank to bank over London's bridges. We last did the walk in May 2013 and had a great time together. This year we have a special reason to help the Red Cross raise funds. Why not join us?

Until the latter half of 2014, I had always associated the Red Cross with disaster relief overseas. I returned from the International Federation of Translators' Conference in Berlin last August to a crisis in my own family. My mother (Carole Andrews) had been diagnosed with breast cancer. As a result, I am now aware of how the Red Cross helps with crises in the UK too.

Today, families are often separated geographically across long distances - sometimes even with family members abroad. My sisters and I we are scattered between Somerset, South Wales and London. My mother maintains a fierce independence in her own home in North Somerset. Ordinarily, she is the one running around after everyone else and their health. She suffers with rheumatoid arthritis. Still, she keeps going when lesser mortals would have long given up.

No fuss
When she first retired, my mother used to deliver meals on wheels to local residents who were sick and housebound. She regularly drives friends to the doctors' or hospital appointments. There was no shortage of volunteers to help her out. Typically, she would not tolerate the "fuss" for herself.

British Red Cross volunteers
When it came to the daily radiotherapy treatment, the British Red Cross came to the rescue. They operate a scheme for patients in Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton. Given my mother's experience, I would recommend that it is extended elsewhere. Every day, a different Red Cross volunteer drove her to the hospital and returned her home afterwards. Rather than having family fussing and making her nervous, she enjoyed speaking with someone new every day. As a thank you, my son and I are going to do the London Bridge sponsored walk in May 2015. 

Thank you to Musgrove Park Hospital
We would also like to say a big thank you to all the staff at Musgrove Park Hospital for their care and courtesy at all times. They really do follow Kate Granger's compassionate #Hellomynameis campaign. Once an elderly person approaches 75 or over, they worry that hospitals no longer treat them as considerately as younger patients. We could not fault Taunton's Musgrove Park Hospital. They were brilliant. Their patient information was a godsend at a worrying time. There was no need to scare ourselves with information on the internet. The clear, well-structured little booklets spared my mother from having to explain her treatment over and over again to all her concerned family and friends.

London's Red Shoe Walk
The London walk starts at Tower Bridge. You can choose to stop after 4 miles around Embankment or continue for the full 8 miles to Albert Bridge in Battersea. You dress in red and wear red shoe covers. My own "red shoes" were pretty battered by the end of the walk last time (see below).

It was a great mother-son bonding experience. James certainly jumped at the chance to do the walk again. At the finishing line, we both received certificates. See the picture of us above at the 2013 finishing line.

If you would like to sponsor our 2015 walk, please follow the following link to our Virgin Money Giving fundraising page for the British Red Cross

Alternatively, why not join us on the walk with your friends and children too? Our current team of two is called the "Red Bridges". If there is enough interest, I may also sign up for the Severn Bridge walk the following week too. There are also Red Cross walks taking place in Oxford and Windsor. Take a look online for further information on dates, etc. 

Any support will be very much appreciated. Thank you!

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