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Michael’s walk report

Michael Birchenall, who works for Adullam as a Team Leader in Derbyshire, provides a walk report from a truly inspirational event.

9.2.23 was the date where we start this fantastic story. A simple email to staff to see how many staff and TRS would be interested in a sponsored walk to raise money for the Earthquake appeal for Turkey and Syria. As a charitable organisation ourselves supporting those most vulnerable and in need of housing and support, what a way to help those across the boarders in whatever way we can.  Nobody could have ever believed how much traction this would gain and to say this a was a great piece of coproduction from all involved would be an understatement. There were ups and downs along the way and that was just in the planning! Risk assessments complete, interest gained from all who hear about the cause and then with just one week to go…..34cms of snow was dumped over Buxton. Did we panic (massively!!!).

Luckily for us there was a rapid thaw and plans were on track. All the projects across the care leavers’ services worked closely to ensure all plans were in place. We had the committed support of Sharon from ASE as well as the unwavering support of each other at each project. There was also support from our partner agencies and local businesses. I will touch on these more as we go along.

I would also like at this point to pass on a huge thank you to Adam Anwari from ICT who called me to wish us good luck and to also reiterate that we as a team are absolutely demonstrating Adullam’ s value, ethos and doing a quite fantastic thing. This was passed on to the staff and gave us all a lovely boost pre-walk.

So, with all plans in place – no weather warnings in place, snow melted, sun trying to break through, in fact the weather set fair to good. We had agreed to meet at Salisbury house as 07.30 to set off. Luckily, I don’t fret over time so was able to turn up at 06.40 and panic as to whether others would show! The usual last-minute important bits were taken care of, like packing sweets and ensuring energy drinks were aplenty. The team gathered outside Salisbury House for a lovely picture where we looked fairly fresh and well. The first group consisted of three staff, one tenant, resident, service user (TRS) and two representatives of local businesses in Buxton – High Peak Bookstore and Smart Engineering Buxton.

The group set off towards Dukes Drive in Buxton and with only a couple of barriers along the way we soon arrived on the A6 and not far from the Monsal trail. Spirits were high and we were feeling confident, and why not.

We joined the Monsal trail here and rather than take the easy standard route we actually went for the more scenic route.

We passed rivers, we navigated fallen trees, and then we made the final climb up on to the Monsal trail and headed towards Monsal Head. It is fair to say it was much further than imagined and to be met with what can only be described as a brutal climb from the trail to the Monsal Head car park where we were greeted by Sharon who had brought refreshments and the most wonderful welcome with clapping and support for the first group completing their section.

We had a quick break here and re-stocked with protein bars, drinks and also passed the baton to team two. Leg two was taking the walk from Monsal Head car park to The Robin Hood pub car park in Baslow. This being exactly eight miles. The route started well as we were able to stroll back down the brutal incline we had just taken and back onto the Monsal trail. Dawn seen below keeping the trail clean and picking up evidence of me eating peanut M+Ms before my dinner!

Here we headed towards Hassop Station where two TRS found themselves tucking into a lovely ice cream and the only point during the walk where we used the first aid kit. CS had two cracking blisters from her trainers, so we patched CS up and were ready to move on. We walked past some wonderful areas including the grounds at Chatsworth House, and headed towards a steep and long incline to our next checkpoint.

It was around this point that the admiration for Ahmed was in overload. A lad we support in Buxton was putting us all to shame. We were puffing and panting, hoping others would want to stop for a break, however Ahmed hadn’t even broken sweat! He was marching on and setting the pace, all with the most wonderful smile across his face. I think this enthusiasm and positivity really helped Mark, Ian and myself make the ascent to the Robin Hood pub. It seems so gentle in a car but wow…when that lactic acid kicks in, it just hurts!

We arrived again to a wonderful reception with applause and cheers aplenty. The support was great, and Marlon was up to speed with his pop-up café from his car boot and hot drinks were handed out along with more snacks and drinks for the final leg. Lindsey, Suzanne, Kayleigh from aftercare and also four TRS were awaiting the final leg.

We had a route planned from here but went slightly off course, obviously we just wanted to take in more scenery and wash our shoes off in the bog that we went through. There were so many hurdles early on this leg and it was at the start where there was the most intense climb up a hill that we were literally burning out legs.

We made it up through the bog and onto dry land where we hit the road and in single file made our way towards our final destination (Chatsworth Road).

On this part of the route we had a couple of TRS who had pushed really hard and burnt themselves out early and as planned and assessed Marlon Rowe was on hand with four wheels to swoop and collect those individuals and return them safely to Chatsworth Road.

Lindsey who had been waiting with the group was re-united with the final walkers and slightly jealous that she had missed out on the singsongs and karaoke which we had been taking part in. It’s fair to say Kyle from Devonshire House has a budding career as a DJ, playing classics such as sweet Caroline and Bohemian Rhapsody which really kept the whole group going. We were trooping on and of course determined and somewhat hurting! We did have a look for my feet on the way home in the car but to no avail.

Ahmed from Peveril House again leading the way and a quote from Kyle on the walk “this man’s an absolute machine”.

We were all shattered but we would not give up and we would walk the full 24 miles!

At around 17.00 we all reached our final destination which was Chatsworth Road and my goodness what a buzz! All the planning, all the talking, all the hoping came home to roost. There were aches, there were pains, there were grimaces, but overall the emotion in the room was a sense of pride, joy and achievement.

Everyone to a tee had burst themselves in the hope that we can have a positive impact on others and what had been achieved was nothing short of incredible.

  From emergency vehicle responder to head chef!Team Leader Marlon Rowe.

Hot soup, hot dogs, pasta bake, and cakes were cooked and served. The food was epic and exactly what the doctor ordered!!

A few emotional tributes were given by and to all those involved. I really cannot express just how proud I am of everyone that took part in this event. It has given inspiration to everyone that when you have individuals from all walks of life, from all different backgrounds pull together and plan something with utter clarity in mind and a common goal anything is achievable. We know we can do more, and this will be the catalyst for us to do just that.

Whether you were a local business, external agency, Adullam staff, TRS or ASE, we all pulled together, showed support, pulled each other up when we were struggling and felt like we could go no further,  and celebrated  with utter joy at each other in success. Nobody on this venture was more important than the next person, there were no leaders, there was a great team spirit with all people equal and one that has inspired me to want to do more and go further (just not too soon ***ouch/aches***).

I want to take this opportunity to say some massive thankyous to various people who supported the day:

ASE – thank you Sharon for your support and enthusiasm, positivity and helping out with transport, costs, social media. Sharon also said some words that really spurred us on – direct quote “whether you raise £1 or even £100, the effects of this day will be lasting and achieving something as a team is just as important.”

High Peak Bookstore – thank you for your continued and highly valued support that you give to Adullam in the High Peak especially. Your support has been brilliant for some time now and we always look forward to linking up with you in various ways to promote working together and building that sense of community.

Smart Engineering Buxton – thank you for supporting the cause, attending a large section of the walk, offering some local knowledge of the area and showing the way with the most scenic section of the walk in the morning group. We look forward to seeing you at future events.

All staff across the care leavers’ contract – thank you so much for getting stuck in, being passionate, driven, dedicated and the most wonderful team to work with. You really are the best team to work alongside, and we have shown that when we support each other we are literally capable of just about anything.

TRS – thank you so much to those who took part, we cannot express our gratitude enough and we hope that you enjoyed the day, and we look forward to seeing you grow along your own journeys.

Sue/Zara – thank you for publicising the event and getting our message out there. Your support is much appreciated.

All sponsors – thank you so much for sponsoring this event and giving money to this most wonderful cause. This money really is invaluable – you can still donate.

We have managed to raise over £750 from this event and we will confirm the full figure in the first week of April. Thank you so, so much! Look below to see how your generosity and support will improve the lives of others!

  • £10 could provide blankets to keep two people warm
  • £25 could provide emergency food for a family for ten days
  • £50 could provide emergency shelter for two families

Michael Birchenall