In October 2016 I will be trekking 90km across the Escambray mountain range in Cuba to raise money for the mental health charity MIND. Given that just six short months ago I struggled to trek from my armchair to my refrigerator, this is a personal challenge for me on a whole other level. In the last 13 months I have lost over 80lbs and although I'm only halfway through my weight loss journey I'm almost as fit as a butchers dog, after throwing every single thing I've got at this fitness malarkey. And I'm still dieting, so I'm building up my fitness and stamina for the trip without being able to seek comfort from so much as a single hob-nob.
I will be making this epic journey to honour the memory of my dad, Jim. That's his photo at the top of the page...handsome old bugger wasn't he! He was a top bloke with a cracking sense of humour and a proper zest for life.
When I was about six years old, my dad had a nervous breakdown. I don't think his childhood was the best, and ghosts from the past caught up with him in middle age as these things often do.
Sadly the 1970s was the age of experimental brain surgery. His doctors suggested that the best way to fix his broken spirit was to remove the part of his brain that dealt with anxiety and depression. It didn't end well, and my dad lived out the rest of his years battling severe mental illness.
I'm beyond sad that my dad's life was effectively cut short, but I am immensely proud that despite making the ultimate sacrifice, it's because of his bravery and that of other people like him that the advances in medical science (in particular understanding the brain and treating mental illness as a whole) are where they are today. My dad was a part of that. In my eyes that makes him a hero.
This trek is a huge challenge for a fat old lady with a dodgy knee and a fear of heights. I'm aware that every step after the first couple of hundred yards is going to hurt, and don't even get me started on the fact that Cuba has spiders the size of elephants. Being the fat old one at the back of the pack means I'm the one that will get eaten if anything gives chase, but I'm doing it anyway.
It would mean the world to me if you'd support my efforts by donating what you can afford, and thank you. I'd like to think my dad would be proud