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When is a blog not a blog…

When it’s never updated, that’s when. The aim of our blog was to keep supporters up to date in a pretty informal manner with our key activities and achievements. It doesn’t need to be anything to jazzy or official, but keeps everyone in the loop, and if nothing else, we can remind ourselves why we’re doing what we do!

 

However, if it’s not used, it becomes nothing more than a page on a website that fills up server space for not much use. But we’ve been so busy lately it’s hard to keep track of what we’re up to, never mind write it down for your entertainment!

 

Personally, professionally and for the charity, I can’t remember being busier!

At the beginning of the month we took the long awaited step of moving out of our first home, and into a much more suitable, bigger home. There wasn’t much wrong with our old house, except we’d overfilled every nook and cranny and generally out grew it. Oh, and it flooded. Sitting at work wondering when, or if, the rain would stop kept stress levels above a comfortable level, so when we got offered a very surprising offer to part-exchange the house, we jumped at the chance.

 

I’ve since been told that the only thing more stressful than moving house is divorce, and if that’s the case, I’ll not be trying that anytime soon (Love you, Sam!) I assumed that only moving a couple of miles meant we wouldn’t really need to get professional help, and that the raft of offers of help would be sufficient. How wrong could I be!

 

There’s still a couple of boxes knocking about 5 weeks later, but we’re getting there!

 

Work, well, it’s work! But I’ve spent less time at my desk and more time running around this month than I’ve ever had to before!

 

And then there’s the charity. It’s been almost 12 months since the launch event kicked it all off, and we’re getting really close to achieving our goal for 2018; the purchase of a holiday home for our families to enjoy. So much so, we’ve started shopping around, and now know where the holiday home will be, and have narrowed the selection down to a couple of caravans. Exciting times indeed. The hope is we’ll have everything up and running by the time the school summer holidays come round, but it will be a challenge.

 

On top of that, we’ve had our second annual Easter Egg Hunt, which despite the awful cold and wind, was enjoyed by all (“most!” – Sam).

 

And we’ve had lots of good news about past events including those ran by clubs, work places & supermarkets. The comedy-large cheque has barely been clean!

 

Of course, we can’t do it without you guys, and more and more of you are coming to us to arrange events to support our cause. Golf days, Half Marathons and Motorcycle rides are all sure to appear in the blog in the coming year, as I promise I’ll make more use of it!

 

Check back soon and hold me to my word! This first year has been an incredible one, and we hope for many, many more to come!

 

Andrew

Saving space and time…

Jack’s Journey is definitely growing. Physically. I can tell. I have absolutely no space left in my garage!

 

If someone had told me how much physical space running a new charity would take, I’d have laughed. Surely a few collection tubs and some ‘merch’ can’t take that much space. “Anyway, I’ve got a garage, I’ll find a corner for it”. That would have been my response.

And that’s what we’ve done for the past 11 months. Threw it in the garage and hoped we could find it when it was next needed. Whether it be the aforementioned collection tubs, the few thousand wristbands or branded pens, or the larger items; the gazebo, the folding table or the signage. All just scopped in, and hoped for the best.

It had to change. I wanted to use the space a couple of weeks ago to make a lightbox in preparation for the Winter Ball (more on that in the very near future). But there wasn’t a spare work-surface in the place. One thing would be precariously balanced upon something else, every draw cupboard or shelf was obscured and getting at that drill or that tin of paint was a 10 minute task. To find somewhere else to balance it, or some other item to block in.

Just part of the mess the garage had become

We thought about renting a storage space. Even went and looked at one. But I can think of 100 other ways to better use your donations than shelling out £50 a month for a cupboard!

We have the space at home, it just needed to be used better. And that’s where Tufferman came in. I sent a rather bland email asking if their tall units could be split in half vertically, and when that was successfully answered I asked the awkward question if they could split the 3-bay offer into 2 different depth units. I was being the person I hate, the person in the restaurant that has to adjust the menu to suit their needs, but Liam at Tufferman was extremely helpful.

After I explained what the units were to be used for, to store all the gear for the charity, and why I was being a pain with the questions (to fit the units behind the garage door, but have some deeper ones that fit around a column, and to fit the units beneath the window) he generously offered the units for free! I couldn’t believe the generosity. Of course I was cheeky enough to ask if some storage boxes could be threw in on top, and Tufferman obliged. “If you don’t ask…”

Could these 3 boxes sort out it all out?

This was Tuesday. On Wednesday I came home to a garage full of boxes. The very next day! I’m not sure how the courier managed to fit them all in given the state of the place!

 

I’ll be honest; I was like a kid at Christmas. The thought of being able to see the garage floor again was too much to contain, and once the kids were in bed, I braved the cold and set about putting these things together. It doesn’t take much; the system required no tools (despite a free mallet being included!) and just clipped into place. I did stub my thumb on one or 2, but generally it went together like lego. The hardest bit was getting the rubber feet on the legs, and once I’d mastered the technique (it didn’t take much mastering) I was away. Probably the best thing was it took very little space to assemble it all, so I didn’t have to empty the garage out into the rain before I got started.

It has been a revelation. In less than 90 mins I got the space relatively organised and was able to get in and out of the garage, put my hands on things easily, and have plenty of space left for further expansion.

Once I’ve got everything out of the cardboard delivery boxes and into the clear plastic storage boxes Tufferman sent over, it’ll only get better.

Can’t thank Tufferman enough, I would have gladly paid for the units, and now I can spend more of my time doing something useful, rather than scrambling around knocking boxes over looking for a pack of leaflets! The products, the service and the delivery cannot be faulted, and will definitely use them again if we outgrow the garage!

I’ll never make a pro-blogger…!

I swore that when we first asked Rebecca to build us a website that I would keep on top of things, keep it updated and maintained. All too often do we see websites that aren’t used to their potential and are left to fall out of date, almost by accident.

We had some very useful comments for Lynsey @ LOTS Marketting, so recently I took action to address the comments and have updated a number of pages. This was really useful for me, and hopefully users of the website will get more out of it. If you have any comments, large or small, about the website, or what we’re doing, get in touch!

As far as the blog goes, it’s a difficult balancing act. If we have time to update the blog, typically it’s because we don’t have much on, and nothing to write about. Other times, when we have lots to write about we have no time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys more specifically).

Over the last couple of months, we’ve had lots on, and therefore barely a quiet minute spare! In the beginning of September, we took our first family holiday since Jack was diagnosed. Thanks to TOMA fund we spent a week at Berwick-upon-tweed Holiday Park. It was a much needed trip away which the kids very much appreciated, and I have to say a couple of nights in the club with a few beers and live music certainly relaxed Me and Sam. TOMA was one of the inspirations behind Jack’s Journey, and we are very grateful for the use of their holiday home.

Work on the charity front continues to keep us busy. Just last weekend we joined Workington Zebra’s as their special guests for the opening home game of their season. Zebras have took us on as their charity for the year and have lots of events planned during the year to raise funds and awareness for JJ. And thankfully they managed to convincingly beat Windermere on the day, with Jack’s Uncle Grant going over for one of the eight tries on the day. Did someone say “Good Luck Charm”?

And the following day we joined the team behind Allonby Ploughing Match for Sunday Lunch and to be presented with a lovely big cheque. The team have ran the event for the past 11 years and it grows each year. It was a pleasure to be invited along, to be chosen as one of the pair of causes to benefit from the match, and to have lunch with everyone involved.

It’s these kind of events that have got us to where we are 10 months in. We are about 50% of the way to our second goal, the purchase of a lake district holiday home, and are constantly looking for ways that we can help and support Cumbrian families. Just today we have taken delivery of another item for a little something to give to parents as they spend their first stay in hospital. It won’t be much but it should make those first couple of days a tiny bit easier!

Going forward I (as in: the ‘royal’ I, the rest of the board) will try a little harder to keep on top of this blog, but for now we best get back to planning The Winter Ball… did I mention that?

 

Guest Post: Lynsey@LOTS: “Stop Making Excuses.”

Picture the conversation:

“Would you be interested in writing a guest blog post for us?”

Outer voice: “Yes of course! I’d be delighted to help! I’m flattered that you thought of me! When is your deadline? 3 weeks away? Great – leave it with me.”

Inner voice: “Oh bugger. What the hell will I write about? So many work deadlines to meet already. House is a tip and I can’t find the time to keep on top of the cleaning. Allotment is going into free fall. Parents are twining they aren’t seeing enough of me. Can’t remember the last time we had a proper night out. Friends are complaining they’ve forgotten what we look like. Oh and I’m behind with my training for the Cumbrian Run I’m doing to raise funds for you…oh jeez, I SAID YES????”

I bet you’ve had loads of occasions where you can relate! I can think of countless times I’ve over-committed my time. Usually to do things that in the long term will be forgotten or are insignificant in the course of life.

So how come I’m here and this article has been published?

Perspective.

Jack has leukaemia. Sam and Andrew have had no choice but to fit cancer into their family life, which won’t be any less hectic than that of my family (minus the cancer).

They have no choice over when Jack has his treatment. No choice about whether or not to pay for parking at the hospital or accommodation away from home so that they can be by his bedside while he receives the best care and support to give him the best chance of beating this disease.

They have no choice about cutting days out of their working week and careers to fit in the time to care for Jack.

They have absolutely no choice about having to juggle their time to ensure that Jack’s sister gets plenty of cuddle time and isn’t affected too deeply by the pressures cancer brings to a family.

Hmmm, my issues suddenly don’t seem so big!

The most inspiring bit?

Sam and Andrew don’t need to spend the limited amount of time they do manage to achieve away from treatment thinking about the other 30-odd Cumbrian families who face the same diagnosis every year and who are going through the exact same process as them.

They didn’t have to set up a charity that helps those families by giving grants to support the additional financial burden and hidden costs that families face when a child is given their diagnosis.

But they did. And many Cumbrian families thank their lucky stars that they did!


So that’s why you’re able to read this today.

I can cut my working hours. I can work with my clients to manage expectations on deadlines. I can ask for help from the family on the allotment.

As for the Cumbrian Run training, I could do with losing a bit of weight so the training will do me good.  On top of that, I’ve never felt more motivated than I do right now!  I’m raising a little bit of money that I know will directly improve the life of a family that is suffering today or a new family that will start their suffering tomorrow or the day after…

I know that when I hit the metaphorical wall during the run (which I know I will!), that any one of the children receiving treatment or their families would swap places with me.  And I know that is what will carry me through.


I have choices and I’m the one in control.  And I thank my lucky stars that I am.

So next time you feel the stress of everyday life, like I have, just think about Jack and his family and the other families dealing with the same challenges.  Take a deep breath and count your own lucky stars that you are fit and able to help.

Time, money, skills…it all counts. Talk to the team – they’re great people, passionate about their cause and what strikes me the most is how humbled they are by the interest that people show in their work.


Oh and remember that if you’re feeling brave, there are still places available for the Great Cumbrian Run.  If not, feel free to sponsor me here:  bit.ly/2vlPyvn

Lynsey is part of the team at Logic Ltd, who chose Jack’s Journey as thier charity of the year 2017/18.

What’s your motivation?

I find that when it comes to fund-raising, especially of the physical challenge type. It’s always best to have a specific source of motivation or encouragement to get you through. To get you through the preparation or training, to get you to the start line, and to get you through the tough bits which will inevitably come sooner or later.

In the past year I’ve been a part of 2 gruelling challenges, and will soon be partaking in a third (more on that later), and on both of these challenges the motivation has been called “Jack!”

Last September, we cycled the original Jack’s Journey, over 130 miles in 2 days which covered Jack’s route during his diagnosis. Many, many hours of training went in before this task which, as I’m told is the way to do it, made the 2 days slightly more enjoyable than they would have been otherwise. But the principle motivation behind that was the charity’s namesake, and my son, Jack.

Jack had been receiving Vincristine, one of the many drugs which form part of Jack’s chemotherapy plan. Depending on the specific of each child’s treatment plan, vincristine can be administered for short spells, or routinely over long periods, but either way, it comes with significant side effects. In Jack’s case this was extreme lower body pain which in the end resulting in Jack not being able to walk at all. Having only recently learned to walk at the time, this was a major step back, and only once the vincristine was finished could Jack learn to walk again.

Knowing that Jack was going through such pain meant that I couldn’t wimp out of a ‘laal’ bike ride across the width of the country. In fact, when climbing the horrors that are whinlatter, hartside, garrigil and Stanhope the burn in my legs was a stark reminder of why I was doing what I was doing.

The bike ride raised over £6000 for CLIC Sargent, and was one of the reasons Jack’s Journey became what it is today.
This weekend was slightly different, but it all came down to another Jack.

Jack Marshall. What a Man!

This weekend, 23 of us joined together to help Jack on his toughest challenge yet, reaching the highest point in Great Britain, the summit of Ben Nevis. Jack is no stranger to a bit of a hike, having already conquered Snowdon and Helvellyn (via striding edge, no point making it easy!) in aid of his charity of choice: Bloodwise, so taking on “Big Ben” was a natural progression.

Waking at 5.00am on Saturday to a rather promising day, Matt and I joined the rest of the team, including Mark from the aforementioned Jack’s Journey cycle team, and set off just before 7. Jack struggles on uneven ground, and it’s fair to say not much of the route to the summit is even, so at least a pair of the 23 aided Jack up to the top. At some points, there were as many as 5 tied to Jack in order to keep his balance and aid him in his effort.

And what did Jack do? Just kept walking. And signing, and ripping into Mark or anyone else that was unlucky enough to be slayed by Jacks sense of humour. More stepping, more jokes and more laughs, up to 1344m, with very little in the way of moaning. Just “How many more football pitches” which became the standard measure of the day. Football pitches and zigzags. Counting them down, through rain, hail and wind until we literally reached for the clouds.


Jack’s effort amazed everyone out on the hill over the weekend, but he truly kept the team going with his efforts. On the way down, I managed to have twisted my knee and was struggling myself to the point that I couldn’t offer Jack as much support as I would have liked, but knowing the effort he was putting in kept me going, and I’m sure it was the same for many of the rest of the team. He truly is an inspiration, and every penny he has raised for Bloodwise has definitely been earned.

As I type, Jack’s just giving page is at £2967.00. If you can, it is a wonderfully worthy cause, and deserves to reach £3000, give £1 and help it get that little bit closer!

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/linda-marshall10

Both Jack’s will be inspiring me on 24th September when I take on the next challenge in aid of Jack’s Journey and “Cure Leukaemia” in the monstrous ’Velo Birmingham’. Over 100 miles around Birmingham and the surrounding counties will be a hell of a challenge, and more than I’ve rode in a hell of a long time, but with these 2 champions spurring me on (in mind), Matt yet again riding by my side (he’s promised not to take off as he so often does) and 10,000 other cyclists creating a aero-advantage, it promises to be a great day, and hopefully we’ll raise plenty for 2 great causes.

In due time, there’ll be a link to a new justgiving page if you’d wish to support this, but I don’t want to take away from Jack Marshall’s amazing effort at this time!

First JJ official Blog post!

It’s been a long time since I wrote a blog post, but we’ve been a tiny bit busy of late!

What with the official registration of JJ with the charity commission, branding of the charity with the amazing Rebecca Watson (www.rebeccawatsondesign.co.uk), acquiring lots of lovely merchadise, an easter egg walk, working with Linda Radcliffe, major of Maryport on several fund raising ideas, we’ve barely had chance to breathe since Christmas.

And that’s without normal family life, including all the challenges childhood cancer throws in our path.

But this weekend was especially significant. It marked the start of others taking on the challenge of Fundraising for our cause. On Saturday, a team represented Jacks Journey in the Keswick 2 Barrow walk, an amazing feat of 42 miles over fells, round lakes, and across moors, a feat of true endurance.

And in a similar vane, Jill and Luigi Woolaghan completed the Fred Whitton Challenge in Sunday, a cycle route of 112 miles over all of the most challenging fells in the lakes. Raising well in excess of £2000 for Jack’s Journey, the pair were inspired by Jack’s challenging treatment, and grinned all the way round.

These 2 events put our effort of Bag Packing in Morrisons, Workington to shame, but we also managed to raise £700 whilst engaging members of the public and raising awareness for the charity!

As more and more events happen, well keep the blog updated, but check out the “Events” and “Past events” pages for news and photos of everything thats going on!