Ok gang, this is a pic of me having a chin wag with Princess Anne, about all things cancer, mental health and of course 101 Things To Do When You Survive!
When the President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons sent me this photo I have to admit that it made me chuckle! My arms are everywhere and I remember Princess Anne looked like I was about to karate chop her!
My family and I have been having a bit of a joke with this pic by adding captions of what they think I was saying to her.
Lots of quotes from films were used and they’ve had us in stitches.
I thought I would open it up to you guys and see if anyone had anything funnier.
So, the two funniest captions to go with this picture will win…..drum roll…….
– A signed copy of my beautiful fiancés best selling book – Kindness – the little thing that matters most.
– A 101 Things To Do When Survive T-Shirt or Hoodie.
Wowzers! What amazing prizes I hear you cry! 😉
So please write your captions below and Jaime and I will choose the two that tickle us the most.
Quotes and of course self penned captions allowed!
NOAH’S WHEELS HAVE ARRIVED
These have to be the best photos ever! This was Noah’s first outing in his new wheelchair and as you can see he looks like he’s in absolute heaven.
I can’t even begin to imagine how it must feel for him to sit up and go outside after spending the majority of his life laying on his back. (See thank you from head nurse Katie in pics)
Thank you all so much for helping make this happen gang. You are amazing.
Thank you also to the wonderful supporters of 52 Lives and of course the incredible Katie Hill from the Butterfly Children’s Hospice who made all this possible.
I don’t thank them nearly enough as I should but I also want to say a special thank you to my beautiful parents, Alan and Phyllis. By the time I reached Asia on my world trip I had pretty much run out of money.
After Katie had got in touch with me after seeing my story, I made a promise that I would visit the Butterfly Hospices when I made it to Asia. Like other organisations I had physically visited or volunteered at I knew we (the 101 community) could help make some small difference to this wonderful charity and the children they care for.
My parents also wanted to help them and knew how much this visit would mean to myself and the charity so they gave me the money to fly over there and visit both hospices. I only spent a week in China but seeing the charity first hand helped introduce the wonderful work they do to all of you and of course Jaime at the life changing 52 Lives.
So thank you Mum and Dad for helping make this happen.
To date, the 52 lives and 101 communities have been able to help the butterflies buy specialist wheelchairs for three severely disabled children -Edmund, Matilda and now Noah. At over £3000 each they are not cheap. These beautiful children were abandoned by their parents and now thanks to the Butterfly Hospice and strangers all over the world, their lives have been filled with love and hope.
Thank you all so so much for helping make these wonderful things happen everyone. Whether you donated money or even just liked or shared the post, I guarantee you it all made the world of difference to these incredible children.
Much love and thanks to you all.
BEN NEVIS AND WILD CAMPING IN THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS
Ok gang, i’m very much hoping this will not only inspire overseas visitors to put Scotland on their list but also inspire a few fellow Brits to realise that a little bit of heaven is right on our door step.
Thing number 39 on my list was to climb the mighty Ben Nevis. Although not particularly recognised as one of the more epic mountains in the world this is still one hell of a hike and if you’re very lucky with the weather, the views of the highlands (i’ve been told) are absolutely breathtaking.
The best thing about this entire adventure was that I was sharing it with my big brother. We don’t often do things like this together so this was a rare treat and hopefully the start of many treats like this to come. The tragic events in both London and Manchester were again a reminder that life can be very short indeed.
We started our adventure at my brothers house in Maidenhead and with a quick lunch stop at my mum and Dad’s caravan which is just over the border near my home town of Annan, we arrived at Glen Nevis campsite in Fort William 12 hours later. This campsite was unbelievable. Extremely cheap, amazing facilities and for those who are not fans of tents, there were even little wooden ‘pods’ to sleep in.
Glen Nevis Campsite is right at the foot of Ben Nevis so the next morning we were up early and set off to conquer the highest mountain in Great Britain. The climb to the top is via a pretty well trodden and in some places a well constructed path, so there was very little danger in getting lost.
Within a couple of hours we were up in the clouds and sadly that was it for our view for the day.
We set off in our shorts which seemed like a great idea until we were almost at the top and encountered a whole load of snow and wind. After a little over 5 hours we reached the summit to be greeted by even more snow, rain, wind and a whole load of cloud.
If i’m honest I absolutely dread any uphill walking. My blood clots make it difficult for my blood to get from my legs to my heart and together with my lack of training it can often make things like this quite a slow and at times, painful process. But once you get to the top it is the most incredible feeling in the world.
When we reached the top I gave my brother the biggest hug and thanked him for being so patient. He is an incredible athlete and has climbed mountains such as Kilimanjaro, Mont Blanc and Cotapaxi so this was a piece of cake for him but he was so patient and kept me going throughout.
It took a little over three hours to get down so the whole thing took about eight and half hours. I was totally knackered by the time we got back to the campsite but as we looked back my brother said “it always amazes me just how far your legs will carry you”. It’s so true.
Now this turned out to be the absolute highlight of the trip.
We woke the morning after Ben Nevis to clear blue skies and a forecast of sunshine and 26 degree heat.
What a contrast to the day before!
The Knoydart Peninsula is regarded as one of the most remote and beautiful Glens in Scotland and this was where big bro and I had the pleasure of spending a few days.
Located around 45 minutes from Fort William we parked the car at the end of the road at Glen Arkaid and hiked up into the valley for the next 6 hours until we found the perfect spot to pitch up our tent. This place is super boggy so suitable places to pitch a tent were few and far between but this was better than we ever imagined. Complete with a beautiful view and located right next to a stream, it was absolutely idyllic.
There are a number of Munros (mountains over 3000ft) to climb in this areas, with the most famous probably being Sgurr na Ciche. Sadly the day I tried to climb this my legs gave way and I just couldn’t get them going again. So I headed back down the mountain whilst my brother climbed to the top.
As you can see from the photos my brother took, the view was absolutely sensational. I would have been even more disappointed with not getting to the top had I not spent the day sitting in the stream and reading my book in the blazing sunshine. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced 28 degree heat in Scotland before but there it was. Just incredible!
The days rest did me good because the following day was another full on day’s hiking. The main rules when wild camping are to respect the environment and leave without a trace so we packed up our stuff and said goodbye to some of the most stunning scenery I have ever seen.
We only met a handful of people during our time there so if you go on your own make sure you tell someone where you’re going as there is no phone signal up there.
I would definitely recommend attempting both the climb and trek when fit and well. After my legs gave way on the third day it was clear that I should have done a lot more hill training. My muscles really weren’t ready for continuous days uphill walking, especially with my pack on. I managed it but my legs have taken a long time to recover.
If you do visit then make sure you go fit and well, and be prepared to be blown away by the awe inspiring scenery.
Happy walking gang!
EXCELLENCE IN HEALTHCARE 2017
I recently had the immense honour of giving the closing lecture at the Excellence in Healthcare conference at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Glasgow.
I met some truly inspirational people, attended a fundraising ball at the magnificent Kelvingrove Museum and even got to tell Princess Anne all about 101 Things To Do When You Survive.
I always enjoy speaking at events and I particularly love it when I can speak to those directly involved in patient and health care. These guys after all, are one of the main reasons i’m here today.
My closing message to this group of leading healthcare scientists, doctors and surgeons was simple – Keep innovating but please don’t underestimate the impact you can also have on a human level.
My time with PTSD was a darker experience than both of my cancers. It got to a point where test results became almost secondary to having someone just tell me that how I was feeling was normal.
I firmly believe that support is an enormous part of the cure for cancer and mental health issues, and medical professionals are a huge part of that support network. I for one look up to them and listen to every word they say. A friendly face, a short engaged conversation or even a reassuring comment can go a long way in improving the wellbeing of a patient. If our mind is feeling good our immune system thrives … and then anything is possible.
Thank you to RCOPS for having me and for all the work you are doing to improve healthcare around the world.
KINDNESS – My girlfriend’s amazing new book
My amazing girlfriend has her first ever book coming out this September!!!
Her charity, 52 Lives has helped so many people over the past few years and this wonderful book is all about the very thing that makes that possible – Kindness.
I am so very proud of her.
Click here to preorder now – KINDNESS – The little thing that matters most
A SAD DAY TO START AN ADVENTURE
I went to be bed last night super excited about going on this weeks adventure but woke up to the news of the horrific and senseless attack in Manchester.
My big brother, Barry and I have just spent the past 12 hours driving up to the highlands of Scotland listening to the radio coverage and we’ve both felt a bit numb.
We sent our love to Manchester as we passed.
We arrived in Fort William, set up camp and tomorrow we’ll tick off thing number 39 – Climb Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Great Britain. We then set off for 4 days of wild camping in one of the remotest parts of the UK.
This is the first time we’ve done something like this together and after hearing of the families who lost their loved ones, I plan on appreciating every single second of this experience with my Brother more than ever.
Grab your loved ones, tell them that you love them and do the things you’ve always said you’d do together. Life really is so short.
Tomorrow’s climb is for the victims and their families.
Much love Manchester.
THE ‘W’ TREK – TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK
THE ‘W’ TREK – TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK
A 5-6 day hike which is considered one of the most scenic treks in the world.
Some people pay thousands to do this trek with a tour company but it can be done for a fraction of the price. I rented my own equipment, took my own food and paid the general admission to the park.
8/10 – A tough 4 seasons in one day trek with some steady and steep inclines. Go prepared, fit & well. I struggled with the weight of my pack on steep sections.
ANTI-BUCKET LIST WORTHINESS
10/10 – One of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet scattered with glaciers, forests, granite peaks and breathtaking valleys. Guaranteed to light you up inside.
Do it from end to start to avoid crowds and to be pushed along by the strong westerly winds. You’ll also get to end at the mighty Torres (towers) instead of starting there.
Happy hiking gang!
VISUALISATION AND THE 101 POSE
I spent last night trawling through just some of the many thousands of photos I’ve taken over the past few years when I stumbled upon this little beauty.
This was the very first 101 photo I ever took. My friend Gemma was taking a pic of me in front of the stunning Cathedral of Leon in Nicaragua when she suggested I turn around to get the 101 logo in the shot instead.
And with that, the 101 pose was born.
I’m going to be sharing some of the classic 101 shots over the next few months which I hope will give you inspiration for possible future destinations but also encourage you to get out there and take your own 101 pics!
101 t-shirts are now on sale so pick one up via the website and get out there and do something you love.
It doesn’t matter what it is, just as long as it helps you feel good! Send in a pic and we’ll plaster it all over 101 to inspire others.
Just visualising being in a place can evoke all the same sensations as actually being there.
Having things to look forward to helped me get over my own mental darkness during my worst time with PTSD.
Research has shown that when we visualise ourselves being somewhere or succeeding in something, it releases that feel-good chemical, dopamine, in the brain which can often be the first step in alleviating the symptoms of anxiety or depression.
So when you look at these photos or make a list, visualise yourself being there and I guarantee it will help light you up inside.
Happy visualising gang!
MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK
Mental health is a topic that is very close to my heart. This week myself and the inspiring Sarah Page from award winning insurance company Insurancewith.com had the chance to chat about our personal experiences via Facebook live interviews for the International Business Times and Hello!
You can find the links to both below:-
HOW I GOT TRAVEL INSURANCE
A video explaining how a guy with one kidney, half a bowel, deep vein thrombosis and in remission for cancer managed to get travel insurance.