Brian isn’t always honest, he has been known to give false information about hills to tired cyclists, but that is another blog altogether. As far as I am aware, this is his only vice and he is otherwise completely trustworthy.
Brian is a committed fundraiser and recruiter of stem cell donors for the charity Delete Blood Cancer. Their aim is to connect possible donors with people who are suffering with blood cancer by maintaining a register. Registers need people and this is where Brian comes in, he gets people talking about the need for donors and most importantly, he gets people signed up to the register. A recent push on the Isle of Wight resulted in 2k+ sign-ups to try and find a match for a little boy desperately in need of a transplant. This comes naturally to Brian; he has survived Acute Myeloid Leukaemia and values everyday as a cancer-free person, he is keen to ‘give back’ what he can to the charity that helped him beat his illness.
Through a twist of fate, I was fortunate enough to meet Brian as a result of a challenge ride invite supporting Delete Blood Cancer. A small team was assembled for the ride and the planning began, our aim was to raise cash and awareness for the charity. We decided that a couple of organised events before the ride would help to get people talking about the charity, one of which being a leg wax. Brian made the trip from the Isle of Wight to Wantage to support the event.
Our team leader, Phil, is a reasonable hirsute man and the remaining hair that carpeted his thighs led me to comment that he looked ‘like a German by a swimming pool’. Brian instantly pointed out (with a grin) that there was nothing wrong with Germans, his stem cell donor hailed from Germany! This is typical of his sense of humour; quick witted and economical in delivery.
There was an important point in this exchange, that of re-birth. The stem cell transplant effectively provides the transplantee with a brand new immune system so they refer to this date as the ‘re-birth date’. Given the much anticipated donor match and transplant, the birthday and gift analogy continues!
The leg wax was a great success raising over £800, more importantly the good people of Wantage were now more aware of Delete Blood Cancer; perhaps we even persuaded some to sign up to the register. Above all, the cyclists now had proper buff legs and were the toast and envy of all their male cycling friends.
Brian’s commitment to supporting our Isle of Wight ride was total and down-right anoraky…he essentially plotted our route on the island and then drove around it 5 times to make sure everything was right. Upon meeting him at the ferry terminal, regaled in a Delete Blood Cancer t-shirt, we were introduced to the large, black arrow which would guide us around the route. The plan called for Brian to drive ahead and park up at junctions, deploy the large arrow indicating the correct way and take any requests for the next stop. Requests were usually about drinks and food, both of which were taken very seriously by energy deprived riders.
So, a good bloke all round but, when it comes to boosting the moral of ruined riders his sense of distance (and gradient) becomes a little distorted. The hill from Shanklin to Ventnor was only a ‘small hike’ and the top was ‘just around the corner’…apparently. When we did arrive at the top, Brian sought to boost morale further by reminding us how sore his foot had become from pressing down on the accelerator for so long…a panacea for our ills, maybe not but it made us laugh and that’s proper medicine when your body hurts and you want to stop.
And finally, I learnt at the end of last year that Brian is hoping to work for Wessex Cancer Trust as a Befriender doing what he does best, talking to people and helping them to get through their challenges using his own experiences. How many of us can truly say that our job really matters and makes a difference?
If you liked this blog please take a moment to check out my book describing the solo Land’s End to John O’Groats ride in 2012, all profit from sales to www.criduchat.org.uk
Please click the cover image for the Kindle version or click here to order a paperback copy. Thank you!