My Final Post for Eric’s Coastal Kayak!

Well here it is, my final post on this blog, must admit I feel quite sad at the thought, but rest assured, as soon as I think of another challenge, I’ll be up and running again so watch this space!

As promised, this blog is to let you know the total raised for Help for Heroes. I can hardly believe it, thanks to you all, I raised the staggering amount of £24,359.74p which I know Help for Heroes will make good use of, which really is what it was all about, making sure our heroes are taken care of when they come home. The total raised consisted of, £17,310.00 raised online; £3323.37 raised offline and Gift Aid £3726.26.

Thank you all once again, I couldn’t have done it without your support, both financially and emotionally, it gave me a real boost to know you were all behind me. I’m sorry I am unable to email everyone who donated online, I didn’t realise it, but once my page stopped taking donations, the page was removed, along with all email addresses, so I do hope everyone manages to see the total on my blog and on my Facebook page.

Cheers for now, hope to be back soon with a brand new challenge!

This England (Magazine Article)

Guess what? ‘This England’ magazine has published an article about my Coastal Kayak, and not only that, I have been awarded ‘The Silver Cross of St George’. What an honour, they said “that it is only awarded to people, who in the opinion of their readers, have made an outstanding contribution to furthering the English way of life“. I am absolutely delighted, and not only that, they told me that this magazine goes to a lot of ex-pats, some of who are ex servicemen across the globe and they are confident that it will result in more donations for Help for Heroes. so watch this space!

I have uploaded a copy of the article and also you will see an advert for Gill Shaw’s book, The Hero Inside which is the official fundraising book for Help for Heroes, and I am honoured to say, she has included an article about me in this book.

My fundraising page, is open until the 31st December 2009, and I will update everyone on the final total at the end, so will sign off for now but will be in touch if I have any more news!

Shenval Farmhouse, Ballindalloch

I have just returned from the most fantastic holiday in the Cairngorms. A lady called Edwina Rickards Collinson, had seen an article about my Coastal Kayak, and can you believe it, offered me and my friends and family a week in her holiday home in the Cairngorms, so that I could have something for me, how amazing is that.

Well I can’t tell you how beautiful the farmhouse is, I will upload a video and some photos for you to see, but even so, I don’t think you will be able to appreciate just what a wonderful place it is. There were millions of pheasants, and in the morning they were right outsitde the kitchen window, not sure if they were hoping we had some food for them!

We visited Elgin then on to Lossiemouth where I was able to show everyone where I had slept all day on the pontoon, and give them their due, they seemed suitably impressed!!!!

We went to Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness, how impressive was that! In the most amazing setting. Walking round, you could imagine living there all those years ago, didn’t seem to be a lot of comfort though, have a look at the sleeping recess!!! I know a hard mattress is meant to be good for you but !!!!!!!

On the way home from Urquhart we stopped in Inverness, I had to drag all the womenfolk past the shops, nightmare! What is it with women and shops!

I think the best place we visited was Aviemore, the views were amazing and we did the easy walk up the slope then came down to the cafe and had the most amazing hot chocolate and cakes sitting in front of a log fire absolute bliss.

The best bit of the holiday though, was when we got home in the late afternoon, maybe have a bit of a walk, then a big family dinner in the fantastic farmhouse kitchen (no way were we letting kids loose with food in the dining room on the pale cream carpet!) Then a relaxing evening in front of the fire with a glass of red wine absolutely fantastic before retiring to the comfy beds that were so difficult to leave in the morning.

I can’t thank Edwina enough, we all had the best time, and none of us wanted to leave, so thank you Edwina it was the most amazing gift and one I will never forget.

An Update since I’ve been home

Not sure where to begin really. I have had a great week, but really busy.

Went to get my hair cut, I was beginning to look like a new age hippy, so went to my regular barber. Now bear in mind, I haven’t had my hair cut for three months! You would think wouldn’t you, the Barber would be well within his rights to charge me double. No way, I got my haircut for free and not only that was given a Help for Heroes collecting tin containing £69.67p, how good is that. Thank you all at Man and Boy Barber Shop Wesham.

The following day, I went to get a butty from ‘Fresh Food Corner’ in Wesham one of my regular haunts when I’m working, and they too handed me a collection tin containing £49. 81p, I am just amazed how kind people are. Thank you, I know I keep repeating myself, but really I have run out of words for all the kindness I have encountered.

I have had donations from The Swan, in Kirkham and Ribby Hall. Also I was given £10.00 by Miss R Roberts from Bury and £10.00 from Mary Todd from Blackpool. I’m still in process of adding up, but rest assured I will give you the total as soon as I have it.

At the weekend, Saturday 5th September 2009, we had the end of event celebration. What a night, so many of my friends and family were there, thank you all for coming you made my night a night to remember.

We held a charity raffle, with gifts donated from companies, throughout the NorthWest. There were some mega prizes and the DJ made sure we sold lots of tickets, thanks Haydn from Dave Ward Roadshows. After the raffle, we auctioned off my trusty Buddy ‘Duke’ a H4H teddy decked out in Duke of Wellington beret. Can you believe it, he was sold for £37.50 and I know he will have a good home because he is destined for Debbie and Paul’s grandchildren, so he will get all the cuddles he deserves. Also, I must mention, we had paid for the room at the Cricket Club when we booked, but on the night, the lads behind the bar, returned the money for the cause just amazing thanks lads, you did a great job keeping us all supplied with alcohol, some might say, too good a job! No really, thank you very much.

After such a fantastic night, Sunday really was a day of rest and reflection, it was great, thank you everyone, at the risk of repeating myself, I will never forget it.

Monday brought me down to earth with a bang!!! Have been out working! What a shock to the system!! Still it has to be done. One thing before I sign off just now, some of you at the party will remember there were balloons on the tables (red white and blue), well on Monday afternoon, we tied H4H cards to them and ‘set them free’. It would be great if anyone who found one, could drop me a line and let me know where it had travelled too!

I know the blog is becoming less frequent, but there will be another post once I have collected all the money in and I can let you know the final total, thanks to you I have already ‘smashed’ my target so here’s hoping I can double it.

The rest of the week I have been working, although the weather was so good yesterday I went flying, it was great, I kept a look out for the ‘liberated’ balloons, but no luck! Be back soon to update you on my total.

Sunday & Monday

Had a good sleep and then a photo shoot with the Gazette.

Sorted my kit out and put the kayak in its ‘bed’ for a well earned rest.

Spent the rest of the day dozing on and off before going to BBC Radio 5 Live to do an interview that went out live at about 11:30pm trouble is, I was so tired I fell asleep and didn’t hear it!! But I’ll get to hear it sooner or later, I know someone has taped it for me.

Monday

Another day where I spent most of the day sleeping!!! I think it must be the drain of adrenaline I just can’t seem to keep awake. Had a telphone call from Neil. Don’t know if you remember, but way back at the start of my challenge, Neil and Patricia at Solway View gave me accommodation in one of their lovely wooden Wigwams, and also called their baby calf, born the night I was there Eric. Well Neil telphoned to tell me, he was putting a donation of £323.00 on to the website. He and Patricia had been collecting from all the people who had stayed in their Wigwams, thanks, that’s just fantastic.

WELL IT DID IT! (won’t be doing it again!!!)

I arrived at Blackpool bang on 3:30 after setting off from Formby Point at 12:08. The sea was rough and blowing a gale, but hey I was on the last leg and nothing was going to stop me now. As I approached the beach I could see my supporters lined up along the shore, family, some had come all the way from Huddersfield, friends, and even some people I didn’t know where all there to welcome me back. They were holding signs saying WELCOME HOME ERIC, which they then turned over and it read PADDLE FORREST PADDLE. What a great reception, I was flying high anyway, but the cheers and warm wishes and congratulations, sent my spirits soaring into space. Thanks everyone, it means more than I can say.

Had a couple of interviews, one with The Gazette, and one with BBC Look North, fancy that, and me not looking my best! Still who cares, if you didn’t already know it, I’m home! Yes!

Quick change on the Promenade, got some dry gear on, everyone helped bring the kayak up, we packed the car and shot off home, where honestly, talk about breaking records, I was showered and changed and out in the Lane Ends pub, in Wesham in less time than it’s just taken me to write this sentence. Everyone was there from the Beach, what a great atmosphere.

I was then presented with a cheque (wait ’til I tell you this) for £1000.00. This had been collected by the following Landlords, Landladies, and customers from the following Public Houses in Wisby, Bradford: The Market Tavern, Upper George, the White Swan, KUE Group Limited, Doosan Babcock staff and workforce at Drax Power Station, Selby, Deborah Services staff and workforce based at Drax Power Station and Deana & Annie of Lodge also based at Drax Power Station. I was just speechless, thank you everyone.

As they had a long journey back they had to leave before we set off to the next pub, but before they left, we took some photos (which I’ve put on the blog) and then, they whipped my collection bucket to take back with a promise to fill it and return it next Saturday at the party. I know I keep saying the same thing, but people are just great and without everyone’s support, I couldn’t have done this, and I certainly would not have raised the phenomenal amount that I have for Help for Heroes.

After a couple of hours, and several gallons of Guinness, we set off for the next pub, now, normally I would walk, but the mind was willing but the body was weak, so I was persuaded !?! to get a taxi down to the Swan Hotel in Kirkham. Again, everyone was great, very interested in what I’d done and why I did it, and forcing drinks on me, well I couldn’t refuse, could I!

After that it was off the Stable Bar, where we stayed until closing, well near enough, my legs were getting a bit wobbly so decided to call it a night. What a great time I had, and tomorrow I don’t have to worry about tide times, weather or anything, just relax. Thanks again everyone, I had the best time, I couldn’t have asked for a better welcome home.

Thursday 27 August (1 more day countdown)

What a day I’ve had today, absolutely brilliant. Started off with breakfast in the Hostel, cereal, toast, orange juice, and numerous cups of tea, what a great place.

As I was getting ready to start my paddle, I had TWO, yes TWO, radio interviews, on was with BFBS (British Forces Broadcasting Service) and TUDNO FM who are a local North Wales Radio Station. There was a really quick response from the TUDNO radio station, as two photographers were down on the beach in double quick time and they took plenty of photographs and promised to send copies to me. Tell you what, who needs to go on Big Brother, I’m a Celebrity get me out of here, eat your heart out!

Yesterday, I had a message from a chap called John Willacy who said to give him a call when I got to Llandudno and he would come for a paddle with me. Which I did. We got out on the sea, chatting away as you do, and you just won’t believe this … It turns out, we knew each other 20 years ago and we paddled on the same expedition in Norway. Imagine that, I neither of us knew we’d met before, well you can imagine, there was more chatting than paddling!!! John left me half way across the Bay, he returned home and I carried on to Prestatyn.

Let me tell you a little bit about John. He was a kayaker with the RAF, and since I met him all those years ago, he is now the UK White Water Champion and he also holds the record for the fastest circumnavigation of Anglesey, he took 20 minutes off the record. John now lives in Anglesey and works for Rockpool Kayaks in their design and development team. It was absolutely brilliant meeting up with him. We will be keeping in touch in the future that’s for sure.

As I said I carried on to Prestatyn and in the meantime, John had phoned his friends Dave and Margaret. As I paddled in, they were standing on the beach waiting for me, unbeknowingly standing next to Yvonne. Once I pulled in, they came over and introduced themselves and invited us back to their house. Well what a time we’ve had.

As soon as we got to theirs, I had a fabulous hot bath, oh the bliss! Then we went in their jacuzzi and had a couple of beers. Stayed in there for an hour, who cares if we looked like prunes, it felt great. Can’t get better than this I thought, but guess what, it did. We have just had the most fantastic barbecue, I’m fit to bust, and now we’re all just chillin’ and having a few more drinks. When life is this good, a life paddling cetainly has its attractions!

Well my beer is getting warm so I’ll sign off now. Oh, before I go, log onto the BBC Website tomorrow, and have a look in the Features pages, they are running an article about me prior to me landing in Blackpool, I tell you what, with all this media coverage I think I’d better employ a professional stylist! Be back soon!


To view more of Eric’s videos, when you’re on YouTube click on ‘more from janefoulis1’

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