Norman Macintosh is the organiser of MaRAFon 2014, an event that was held last month to raise money for the RAF Benevolent Fund. In this guest blog, Norman tells us how he came up with the idea for the event.
I served in the RAF for 24 years, and would have served more but for a "dickey ticker" as the chap in "Allo Allo" used to say!
I was on Twitter one day in 2012 when a tweet popped up from the lovely Cerys Sadler, looking for volunteers to help with fundraising at Cardiff Airport.
This was the first insight I got into the incredible amount of work that the RAF Benevolent Fund Regional Fundraisers do, and how much they rely on volunteers to help. It was great volunteering and even getting up at 3am a few times couldn't dampen my enthusiasm!
I didn't want my help to stay at that, and having been invited to the Champions Workshop at the RAF Benevolent Fund's HQ, I decided I'd support the charity further by organising MaRAFon.
The MaRAFon was a twist on the TOGs Marathon; TOGs are Terry's Old Geezers/Gals – followers of Sir Terry Wogan's radio programmes, but in both of these events the idea is that anyone can take part regardless of age or physical ability.
This year there were two MaRAFon events. On 19 April, my co-organiser Hellen and I joined the residents and staff at the RAF Benevolent Fund's Princess Marina House for what was a great day that was also warm and sunny too.
In the MaRAFon There was a short course through the lounges, an outside course in the grounds and some hardy souls did a three-mile round trip to Littlehampton, including the oldest participant who is 92! In total the 29 participants walked over 40 miles!
Our MaRAFon on Sunday 20 April in Green Park turned out a little different, we got wet on our first circuit round, although it tailed off to a light drizzle after that. There were eight TOGs who took part.
TOGs also go by TOG names, as Sir Terry says, no one ever writes to me in their own name, so Hellen Bach, Tudor Raincoat, Dizzy Twilight (the granny who DJs and loves to party), Pal Mal, Gissa Bunkup, Edina Cloud, Lucy Quipment and MOG (short for miserable old git) were in the park to do the maRAFon. We covered over 30.7 miles in the park, so between the two events we covered nearly three marathons!
Fundraising is something I've done for some time now and it has become a very important part of my life. We find that these "bite-size" marathons give the older and less able people the chance to take part and to feel part of something they thought they could never do. They're also raising money for the RAF Benevolent Fund a very worthwhile cause and one that's so close to my heart.
So roll on next year's maRAFon 2015! You can still add to the total raised this year by donating at our JustGiving page: http://www.justgiving.com/maRAFon-2104
By Norman Macintosh