Hi my name is Debbie and I would like to share my experience of the first ever London Sun Walk.
I have walked many Walk the Walk challenges and when I saw there was to a Sun Walk in London I had to enter. I also wanted to include my parents in the experience as they have been huge supporters of my challenges and my Autistic son ,Ben, too.
The build up to the walk was brilliant lots of messages on the Forum and updates on the Walk the Walk facebook page. At this time I had been asked to decorate a few people’s bras so I set up ‘Budgie’s Bras’ a page where people could share links and bra decorating ideas and it helped with my fundraising too. I set about about making my parent’s and Roy Gale’s bras. Then 3 days before the walk I received Nina’s bra to decorate too.
Two days prior to the walk was my dad’s 70th birthday and to celebrate this Nina invited my parents, myself and Ben to be her special guests. We were all so proud when we received our invites. I was a little worried about Ben, my son, as he was to go on stage with Nina, being autistic I wasnt sure how he would cope with the noise and crowds but gave him plenty of talks and he ended up by being really excited as were my parents too.
24th July..the day….
We left early in the morning and drove to London and I had a virgin walker with me, Kelly, a newbie to walking and the week before we had walked across 18 bridges in London for a work’s challenge she had going and she only applied on the monday to do the Sun Walk!!. We had our picnic and our bras and found the site. I had seen pictures thats Guy had posted on Walk the Walk facebook but the scene that greeted us was amazing..Tippees, wagons, line dancing arena oh and lots more. First call was to introduce my parents to Jo, the forum administrator, and some of my dear friends from the forum too. Everybody made them and Ben feel so welcome.
We then made our way to the VIP area where I saw Zoe and Chris whose wedding I had attended on the 22nd July, introduced my family to theirs. I gave Nina her bra which she was pleased with..phew! and then mum and dad went to get changed into their bras and indian wigs!! They looked great ( I dont really remember seeing my dad with hair before!!!!
Roy Gayle arrived, Ben was so excited to meet him as he calles him ‘Roy the boy 123′. Roy was fantastic with him talking to him and Ben was so happy it brought a tear to my eye.
I took Ben back to the forum stand where he met more of the ‘forum girls’ as he calls them and I bought a Cactus ticket and won a pamper day!!
The entertainment was brilliant. Took Ben to see the animals and the owls which he loved and had pictures taken with Roy and my parents.
Then it was time…we were at the back of the stage listening to Nina talking to the crowd, must admit my tummy went over!!! It was lovely Nina called me on to the stage and mentioned her bra…I was beaming, so proud!!! She then called her special guest up, my Ben, he came on the stage, he looked a bit bewildered and kept holding my hand for reassurance but was so happy. Then it was my dad’s turn. Nina called him up and told everyone it had been his 70th birthday and then the whole site sang happy birthday to him, thought I saw a little blush on his face!!! And I thank you if you are reading this and were there for joining in the ‘happy birthday to you’!!
Mum came up too bless her…my mum is partially sighted so walking with my dad and Ben for 3 miles was going to be a challenge for her but she was eager to do it.
Nina invited other guests on to the stage including Mary, now Mary is I think the oldest walker with Walk the Walk and walks full marathons and sun walks, one amazing woman.
After the introductions it was time for the minutes silence, remembering survivors and people we had lost to this horrible disease, at this point I made eye contact with Sharon, a dear friend who I have met through the forum, on occasions we have hugged and shed a tear togther after the minutes silence.
After the hugs and emotions was the warm up…with Roy the Boy. He too liked his bra, he wears them so well!!!
Now this is when Ben came alive, not a very active boy is my Ben but he was jumping around and waving his arms with Roy it was lovely to see. Dad was a bit nervous about doing the warm up as he..im sure he wouldnt mind sharing this with you, but has no rhythm at all but he was brilliant and enjoyed it too.
I left the stage to take some pictures and then it was time for the off for the half marathon.
It was such a warm day and took me a while to get going but soon got into the stride. It was lovely walking along some of the sights that I have only seen during the night. The crowds were very supportive and the volunteers were as usual fantastic. It was so warm and for some reason I experienced a really painful foot…’ignore it Debbie I kept telling myself’ , kept the fluids up and carried on. After about 5 or 6 miles a lady caught up with me and said ‘Hi Debbie..you’re the bra lady’ i didnt recognise her, and to this day wish I had got her name. We walked together until the end. I am usually a solo walker but I was finding it hard going as was this lady. She was clearly suffering from the heat and I was really worried about her at mile 11 when I thought she was going to faint so I held her hand until the end.
We finished together but I knew she need a medic. Another friend Colette who was at the finish line managed to call for one. We took her to the stage and the medics arrived, I quickly went and got her a medal and gave it to her and then she was gone. I do hope she was ok.
Mum and dad were waiting for me with Ben and Ben so chuffed with his medal. We had more pictures taken and then dad went to get the picnic. We sat on the grass with our picnic watching everything going on around us.
We watched the line dancing and the man with the whip, which Ben was transfixed with and popped back to the forum stand to see the girlies again. But Ben was tired and at that time I thought it was best to come home.
The whole day was amazing, the organisation that goes into the walks is huge and from my parents, Ben and I would like to thank Walk the Walk for a very very special day.
To my Mum and Dad if you are reading this, a huge well done to you both for walking your first Walk the Walk challenge and a huge thank you for looking after my Ben too.
Oh and for anyone who is thinking of walking a Walk the Walk challenge…DO IT!!!
Walk the Walk is not only a fantastic Charity to help but has helped me in my life…thank you Walk the Walk and well done on another fantastic day…heres to next year!
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