GETTING TO THE STARTING LINE
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 annavictorious.co.uk; victoriaspromise.org
“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.
ZERO PERSONAL SPACE
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.
INTERESTING TOILET FACILITIES
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.
PAIN IN EVERY PART OF YOUR BODY
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