Four years ago David Bracey, co-founder of The Fountain Workshop, one of Kent’s most successful companies, started treatment for testicular cancer, a deadly form of the disease if not treated quickly.
Fast approaching his 50th birthday, David decided it was time to fulfil a pledge he made to himself during his recovery to give something back, to raise awareness of the disease and to do his bit to help find a cure.
Next month, David and friend, Desmond High – also a successful Kent businessman – will do just that by walking 150 miles along the Grand Union Canal, from Birmingham to London – in five days.
But rather than raise money for just one fantastic cause, the pair intend to raise money for five; all of which are causes close to their hearts. They will be dedicating a day to each, in the following order:
• Orchid – The UK’s leading charity working on behalf of anyone affected or interested in male cancer.
• The Primary Club – the cricketer’s charity that raises money to provide sports and recreational facilities for the visually impaired.
• The Quest School, based at Paddock Wood in West Kent –a specialist school for children with autism.
• Lupus (UK) – which supports research into this currently incurable illness of the immune system, which can mimic other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and ME.
• Fields of Life – a small international development charity based in Kent, whose main focus is clean water, education and healthcare in post-conflict East Africa.
At 8am on Saturday, 10 October, the pair will set out from Brindleyplace a large city centre business and leisure development in Birmingham, 20 years to the day since a fountain installation was unveiled.
Their epic trek will end circa on Wednesday, 14 October – 150 miles of towpath, locks and bridges later – at The Fountain Workshop’s flagship project – Granary Square, King’s Cross, London. Their fundraising target is £50,000. Both fountain projects were the vision of developer, Argent LLP, who have generously agreed to support their adventure.
David said, “With my 50th birthday coming up, it seemed an ideal time to live up to the pledge I set myself during my recovery from testicular cancer. Desmond had done a similar charity push 10 years ago when he reached that milestone, and so I am walking in his footsteps. I couldn’t ask for a better companion. The original idea was for Desmond and I to complete a 50km charity walk along the Thames path to support Fields of Life, but when diaries clashed, we had a chat about possible alternatives and quickly decided, aided by a couple of glasses of red wine, that a one day sponsored walk was not enough of a challenge. We also decided we wanted to support more small charities, causes that were close to our hearts but not necessarily ones that received a lot of attention so the ideas of five days, five charities was born.”
Desmond, a Chartered Accountant and director of EMC Management Consultants Limited, says he doesn’t have a real job, he just works on interesting and varied commercial projects that take his fancy. He raised thousands of pounds for charity 10 years ago in his Big50 Challenge. He can’t wait to embark on the new fundraising endeavour.
He said: “I was asked 10 years ago if I’d do something similar when I reached 60 and my reply was “certainly not”, or words to that effect. However as this landmark approached, I decided that it would be good to do something orthwhile. The walk for Fields of Life seemed such an opportunity, but, as David said, we couldn’t do it this year. This will definitely be a challenge and so it should be. We’ve both done some training – certainly some walks to get used to striding with purpose – and there is no question that we won’t complete 30 miles a day.”
He added “David and I are both cricket coaches, which is how we met, and apart from that shared interest, found we had the same sense of the absurd. That will be invaluable during our walk. We hope people will get behind us and support us as we make our way along the course of the Grand Union Canal, helping us to raise what would be an incredible amount for five fantastic causes.”
To find out more about David and Desmond’s Grand Union Canal challenge, visit www.bigstrideout.co.uk, visit the Big Stride Out Facebook page or follow @BigStrideOut on Twitter. Join the conversation using the hashtag #BigStrideOut.