The 2020 Report

‘The freedom experienced when walking is about not being anyone because the body that walks has no history; it just has an eternal current of life…’.

The year of ‘Covid-19 and lockdown’: Will the Dorset Walk go ahead? How long before things get back to normal? 

We held out as long as possible, we waited for the Government updates to give us a positive way forward. Unfortunately for the Dorset Walk this didn’t arrive – social distancing of 400 people was ‘mission impossible’ – Game Over… or maybe not!

Click here for the walk in pictures

Time for  Plan B! The #nondorsetwalk was launched. During lockdown people were allowed one form of exercise per day. The result was people started to walk each day!

The plan was simple, walk from your house and ‘if’ you were willing, camp in your garden. We launched the proposal via social media on 11th May; the support and engagement was amazing, we were definitely onto something. (Facebook post/video or visit our Facebook page here)

As ever, initially you are heavily reliant on people being proactive and getting signed up. This was a huge learning process for us. The 300 students that had signed up for the Dorset walk in Dorset, didn’t see the #nondorsetwalk through the lense we had hoped. It highlighted the importance the ‘adventure’ The Dorset Walk provides. Camping in their garden and walking their local area didn’t appeal to the masses (in many ways, fair enough). A number did and we are hugely appreciative of their efforts, it says so much about who they are and why they are such superstars!  We were starting to worry that we wouldn’t get the numbers we had hoped for. 

Initially we were perhaps forgetting the significance The Malcolm Whales Foundation now holds for so many people. We have created some partnerships with other charities – Edgars Gift, The Mintridge Foundation, The Fruitfly Collective, After Umbrage and  The Harry Johnson Trust all signed up and got involved. The supporters started coming forward en masse. The participant map started to show pins all over the country and across the planet. 

Alongside this was perhaps the most pleasing aspect of this walk; families and friends really took up the challenge. The photos and stories that almost blew our social media up, made the virtual event so inspiring. Throughout there was a constant theme; spending time together and walking with friends and family was having a massive positive impact. There was a realisation that a ‘team challenge’ brings people together, this was so rewarding to see and hear! For many the physical challenges and fundraising that they achieved was quite incredible, and personally appreciated beyond words.

Observations:

We had hoped the TMWF concept would work. It was interesting to see how people value certain aspects, for example:

T-shirts – the surge in sign ups coincided with the opportunity to order t-shirts. The Covid logo and this year’s colour looked fantastic. People love the t-shirts and the pictures of different groups bumping into each other because they recognised the t-shirts was brilliant. Maybe our future lies in t-shirt sales alongside a charity walk:) 

The Walking – once the challenge mindset is sparked, people spring to life. There were people of all ages walking/cycling/running different miles in different locations – perhaps most importantly, at the same time as others. The virtual challenge was a superb core component of this year’s non walk. Some of the challenges were astonishing; 40 miles in a day, back to back half marathons as just two examples (there were many more).

Camping – perhaps the least enjoyable aspect for most. Some of the groups entered into this and many others didn’t! Personally I took on 4 nights in the tent; to spice is up a bit I took my children with me, for some of the time! For those of you that slept inside, with a clear conscience – I think you made a better choice than me. For those of you that took on the tent, good for you. It is certainly part of the ‘challenge’!

There were a number of highlights to take from this year:

  • Support from local sports clubs – Hemingford Football Club, Little Thetford Netball Club, Huntingdon Rugby Club and Upwood Cricket Club
  • Oli and Sam’s 400 miles in 4 days Fundraiser (£1280)
  • The 40 miles in a day via the London Stadiums team (£2000+)
  • Massive individual family fundraising – £5000+ was raised by 7 families alone – Gibbs’, Coe’s, Bonnett’s, Murphy’s, Belcher’s, Purdy’s and Barter’s. Many other families also raised staggering amount (too many to name). 
  • Back to back half marathons run over the 3 days Welsh/Barter.
  • Alex Collard walking the Dorset Walk in a day.
  • International participants – The Dubai heat and Charlie’s video blogs, alongside the China miles all added to the event.
  • Celebrating the arrival of the t-shirts tiktok
  • The justgiving page that nearly exploded my email with notifications
  • The interactive map which showed all the different locations of participants. 

The Fundraising:

As we said from the outset all the funds we raised, we would give away to support charities that had been badly affected by Covid. The target we set ourselves was £10,000; as of the 3rd August 450 people had participated in the event managing to raise just over £30,000. 

Charities we have supported/donated are listed below:

Mintridge £450, After Umbrage £450, Myeloma £450, SWCP £100JDRF £200Branching Out £250, Addenbrookes £2000HCCN £1000, Mind £100, Breast Cancer Now £200, Each £250, Nelsons Journey £250, The Lawrence Home £500, Edgars Gift £3000, Sarcoma £1000, Royal Marsden £750Isla Smiler £500The Drew Barker £1000Julia’s House £750Charlie Chimp Club £750Ben’s Den £1000Hope Against Cancer £2500Move charity £3000Starlight £1000, GOSH £250, Hinchingbrooke Hospital £1000, Leicester Hospital £1000Peterborough Hospital £5000

Reflections

What have we missed? 

Have we ‘missed’? For me, I think we have gained. We often talk about the importance of resilience and having positive mindsets. Fundamentally I believe these types of attributes can only be developed through challenge and adversity; as they provide opportunity!

In terms of TMWF, we have definitely grown and developed. The charity is bigger and better now than it was at the start of lockdown (maybe not quite financially, but in all other aspects). Dorset will still be there, and I believe we will appreciate it so much more next year, in a way we have invested in ourselves ready for next year. 

For most of us, hopefully we will soon have overcome what will be remembered as a very short period of difficulty in our lives (that’s not to take away from those that have suffered significantly during the crisis). In fact what we have done is stand up and be counted, we have raised over £30,000 to help those that have and are suffering. We should feel proud that we wanted to go beyond Thursday night at 8pm. We challenged ourselves, supported and donated to a cause that will now go on to help many hundreds of even thousands of people.

The Malcolm Whales Foundation it’s not about problems and difficulties – the things and people we support enable us to keep perspective. It has to be about finding opportunities and positives in everything. The #nondorsetwalk will remain a cherished memory and a privilege for us all. It is now our hope that next year we will be able to host both the Dorset Walk and the Non Dorset Walk. 

As ever thank you and well done!

Damien

 

If you think I have missed anything please let me know – themacolmwhalesfoundation@gmail.com

 

Press write up (links)

Dorset Echo 

Ely Standard – pre walk

Peterborough Telegraph – pre walk

Ely Standard – post walk

Sarcoma UK – support article

After Umbrage – support blog

Mintridge – support blog

 

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