Berkshire Life - - CHARITY LIFE -

help peo­ple to step out of their com­fort zone and to ful­fil their dreams. She would ask her friends: ‘What’s the one thing you’ve al­ways wanted to do?’

One friend said they had al­ways hoped to visit Thai­land, so Anna bought her a Thai­land sav­ing pot so that she would re­alise this dream. Now I speak to peo­ple and they say: ‘Guess what? I did this to­day and thought of Anna. She en­cour­aged me to do it and now I have.’ Anna in­spired peo­ple to stop talk­ing about do­ing some­thing and ac­tu­ally go out there and do it. She believed that if you put your mind to it, any­thing is pos­si­ble. That’s her legacy. With­out me know­ing, she had ap­plied for tick­ets for me to go to the Rugby World Cup in Ja­pan last year,” adds Ed. “It was such a sur­prise and I went with my mum and Alba and made sure I had a good time.”

While Anna had been ill, Ed needed some­thing to keep his mind busy, so he be­gan fundrais­ing. He de­cided to leave his job as a firearms of­fi­cer and ded­i­cate his time to fundrais­ing for Vic­to­ria’s Prom­ise.

While Ed was tak­ing part in the Pen­nines Chal­lenge last year, his friend, Rob Mur­ray – a Thames Val­ley Po­lice Of­fi­cer of 16 years, who has also cap­tained Berkshire in the Rugby County Cham­pi­onship – asked Ed to race across the At­lantic in the Talisker Whisky At­lantic Chal­lenge. “Of course, I said yes. But we’d need

Team Anna Vic­to­ri­ous are be­ing aided by mar­ket­ing ex­pert Mag­gie Robin­son through her busi­ness, Smart Think­ing Con­sul­tancy. Mag­gie is a mar­ket­ing fel­low at the Char­tered In­sti­tute of Mar­ket­ing in Cookham, Berkshire “I met Ed and the rest of the crew at a busi­ness event last year. They gave a pre­sen­ta­tion, and were truly in­spir­ing. My heart went out to Ed on hear­ing about how his wife’s life was trag­i­cally taken by cancer. I was in­spired by ev­ery­thing they and Anna stood for.

“Ed and his team have al­ready put so much effort into train­ing and rais­ing money, but there is still a long way to go, so I felt I could of­fer sup­port by us­ing my mar­ket­ing ex­per­tise to help spread the word and raise funds to get them to the start line and for Vic­to­ria’s Prom­ise.” two other peo­ple,” says Ed. “I made a few calls to my friends, Adam Green and Jack Bliss.”

Adam, an en­gi­neer with pre­vi­ous row­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and Jack, also from Thatcham, who works in con­struc­tion man­age­ment and had pre­vi­ously taken on cycling chal­lenges, both agreed. Team Anna Vic­to­ri­ous was born, and they will join around 30 other teams tak­ing part in the chal­lenge in De­cem­ber 2021, rac­ing 3,000 miles across the At­lantic. It is re­garded as the world’s tough­est row and the lads are show­ing great prom­ise, even though they only first took to the wa­ter around six months ago.

“For­tu­nately, Dan Har­ris, a row­ing coach at Bath Uni­ver­sity with Team GB, heard about us and got in touch, say­ing he wanted to help,” says Ed. “He de­signed a train­ing pro­gramme for us and we now train six days a week. Ev­ery day I’ll go for a bike ride, run, do weights and get out on the wa­ter, as well as work­ing and look­ing af­ter Alba. The jour­ney starts a long time be­fore set­ting off on the row from La Gomera to An­tigua.

“Some say the hard­est part is get­ting to the start­ing line, so hav­ing sup­port at this stage is cru­cial. We need to raise a lot of money – £200,000 in to­tal.” But that’s not the only chal­lenge.

“Once we set off we’ll be en­coun­ter­ing waves mea­sur­ing up to 40ft high,” says Ed. “I was sea­sick once as a young boy, so I’m hop­ing I can man­age that side of things. I’m es­pe­cially wor­ried about the sleep de­pri­va­tion. We have to row two hours on, two hours off for about 40 days. We’ll burn 12,000 calo­ries a day and lose up to 20 per cent of our body weight.

“But I can do it, be­cause I’m do­ing this for Anna,” he says. “I want to carry on her legacy of get­ting peo­ple to fol­low their dreams. When she was dy­ing, she told me: ‘Tell Alba she can do what­ever she wants; be what­ever she wants.’ And when Alba asks me what Mummy was like, or what she sounded like, this is one of the things I tell her about. This is Anna’s legacy.”

To do­nate, visit an­nav­ic­to­ri­; vic­to­ri­

“Mummy, when I’m 16, can I go to the Read­ing Fes­ti­val?” This is my daugh­ter, two years off her 16th birthday and the ab­so­lute an­tithe­sis of what I was like as a teenager. She is sporty, bal­anced and sen­si­ble, whereas I was... Ac­tu­ally, let’s save that for an­other col­umn.

I first at­tended Read­ing Fes­ti­val in the 1990s when indie and Brit­pop ruled. I’ve gone along on and off ever since; watch­ing it morph from an event where you ab­so­lutely would not take your chil­dren to one where nurs­ing moth­ers equip their ba­bies with ear de­fend­ers.

Rather than shout an im­me­di­ate “No!”, I thought I’d turn the ta­bles and ex­plain to my daugh­ter what she should ex­pect if, by the time she turns 16 in 2022, the fal­low pe­riod of fes­ti­vals is over. Would she still want to go then? Here’s how I tried to con­vince her not to.


Some peo­ple love a mosh pit – bod­ies pressed tightly up against each other and mov­ing as one, paus­ing only briefly to al­low a space to open up within which a sub­sec­tion of the crowd can cre­ate a vor­tex of swirling limbs or a crowd surfer can be un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously dropped. If stand­ing un­der some­one’s armpit on the Tube is ‘too much’ for you, I sug­gest avoid­ing this el­e­ment of a fes­ti­val at all costs.


The thing that makes Bri­tish fes­ti­vals so very ‘Bri­tish’ is the mega-queues for the loos. We love a good queue and we love to tut and mut­ter about the amount of time we’ve spent wait­ing. This is a par­tic­u­lar is­sue for ladies which, de­spite ster­ling en­gi­neer­ing ef­forts from the mak­ers of por­ta­ble de­vices, seems like it will never be re­solved. I know peo­ple who plan their po­si­tion as much for the clean­est toi­lets as they do for the bands they want to see.

What­ever the weather, you will mis­judge your clothes. You will get sun­burn around your glit­ter tat­too, you will get dust in your drink as the wind whips across a parched, ru­ined field. You will lose a welly (but only one). On a year that it rained af­ter hours of scorch­ing sun­shine, my brother, rather than putting on a paca-mac, did a ju­bi­la­tory dance be­fore real­is­ing that wet denim is not only not a good look, it will also turn you into a shiv­er­ing wreck for the rest of the evening.


Stand­ing up all day makes your back hurt. Jump­ing up and down on unyield­ing ground makes your boobs hurt. Stand­ing too close to a speaker makes your ears ring. Bel­low­ing lyrics that make you feel 18 again strips your throat. Be­liev­ing you can ‘do a week­ender’ like you did 20 years ago gives you the kind of headache that you should know bet­ter than to earn. Fac­tor in sleep­ing in a tent on ground that has not been so much prepped as driven over sev­eral times with a

ABOVE: Tak­ing the boat out on calmer waters than the ad­ven­tur­ers will ex­pe­ri­ence on the At­lantic

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