It’s my favourite blog of the year: the one where I get to showcase the fabulous people who’ve done their bit to raise awareness of neuroblastoma on the back of the bike ride.
Just like last year, the categories are as random as the weather in the west of Scotland, but be assured that if you did something that made a difference, I’ll try and find some way of recognising it.
I started the year on 21,182 miles, and with a dream of cycling Belfast to Forres, branded as the Oscar to Eileidh ride, to complete the 25,000th mile on the second anniversary of Oscar’s passing and Eileidh’s diagnosis. They happened a day apart back in 2014.
In order for that to happen, I needed to keep intact a record of consecutive 200 mile weeks that had been running since May 2015. As each week of winter passed by, as the miles kept piling up, the end game looked assured. That was until Wednesday 10th February, when I crashed on black ice at 5:30am at -6C and fecked both hands. Ten months down the road, my right thumb is still not fully recovered but it’s passable in terms of controlling the wheels. That’s all I need.
But that kiss on the tarmac cost me the calendar year of 200 milers that I’d craved. The attempt came to an end at 36 consecutive weeks. I lost the next week because I couldn’t manage the brakes (kind of essential when you’re descending 2000ft a day) but three more 200’s at least left me with a chance of making the date, if not the route. But given the pain I was in, there was no way I could have ridden 250 on the final day. So O2E was parked on a sick note.
Then, on the day before my 63rd birthday in the middle of March, I lost my job. They wrapped it up as corporate restructuring but nonetheless 117 of us were shown the door. And that brings us to the first award…
The LCFN P45 Award for distinguished long service, both in business, in friendship, and in LCFN support, goes to my mate of 25 years, Les Cullen. When a place has to call you back in as a consultant cos you know stuff, then you’re a legend. Les is a legend.
The Spreading The Word Award in 2015 went to loads of people and 2016 has not been that different: it’s been another amazing team effort. Check these stats from the blog (the one that you’re reading):
2014 views: 3,003
2015 views: 3,439
2016 views: 4,092 (and we ain’t finished yet)
I want to thank Angela and Eleanor for commenting on my blogs and keeping on sharing them. I want to thank JJ and Theonie in Adelaide. JJ has been immense with his radio show, plugging LCFN most weeks and getting the message out there. Theonie doesn’t have her own challenges to seek because at the start of the year, her husband Gerry was diagnosed with aHUS shortly after his 40th birthday. It’s a killer disease if left untreated and Theonie is currently campaigning nationally in Australia to have the treatment funded on Straya’s equivalent of the NHS. Theonie’s been one of my strongest supporters these last eighteen months and I want her to know that I’m in her corner right now. Up in Brizza, the Gabby’s took a pile of LCFN wristbands over to Oz in the autumn and they were principally responsible for stocking Adelaide on their return from the UK. And they have the Flag: c’mon guys, let’s see the foatiz. Get the Flag down the Gabba….
And then there’s the biggest neuroblastoma awareness gig of 2016: featuring Amelie Bottrill aka Frank Loves Joan. I’m going to take a step back for a moment here because the LCFN Most Important Post of the Year Award goes to Missy Fay for sharing this on her Facebook page back in January/February time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ID3_Y6-5ZGw It was a game changer, it’s just that I didn’t realise it at the time. I’m sure that most of you reading this will know the story but that video led eventually to Amelie recording a special song for Princess Puddles just three months later: 24 thousand views of ‘Puddles’ says that Amelie did a fantastic job, not just for Eileidh but for kids fighting cancer worldwide. And is if that wasn’t enough, Amelie took fifty of the LCFN/EJ wristbands then set up an event to punt them. Missy set that whole train in motion…
And then there’s Gail. The primary reason why the LCFN blog stats are up on last year is because of Gail. 2016 was the year in which LCFN and Eileidh’s Journey joined forces, something I wanted to happen a year ago rather than just letting the bike ride off into the proverbial sunset. So it’s been a kind of two way thing: Amelie did a fantastic job for Princess Puddles and Gail has done an equally fantastic job promoting LCFN through Eileidh’s Journey. I could have finished at 25K but Eileidh won my heart. Now I’m pretty much Forrest Gump on two wheels because of her.
The 2016 LCFN Awareness Award goes jointly to Amelie and Gail. Share it and wear it with pride.
But I can’t leave awareness without mentioning Theresa, or TT for short. I work on the principle that people can only say no if you ask (politely). TT took the Flag, along with a load of wristbands, to Italy in November, so now there are folk over there rooting for Eileidh too, and be assured that there’s something special happening with the second Flag: cue 2017…
Also on awareness, but not directly in the Facebook group, we have the LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma club running on Strava: 45 cyclists in (currently) 15 countries, collectively trying to ride a million miles to raise awareness of the disease. We’ve only been going since June and this week, we passed through 50,000 miles. LCFN ain’t going away any day soon…
The Flower Award goes to Angela, for it was she who presented me with a golden bouquet of yellow flowers from Gail as I passed through the finish line at 25,000 miles at the start of July..
Angela also scoops the Whooping Award cos I could hear her hollerin’ when I was still fully 600m from the finish line. Big heart, big attitude: that’s Angela. And she’s been with me since day one.
The Rocket Fuel Award, which she retains from last year, goes to Jane. You have no idea how many miles have been fuelled by Jane’s fantastic creations. Many has been the time that I’ve hoovered up the cake tin on my way out the door. Love it.
Last year the Best Guy On The Planet Award went to Iain McGovern for all his charitable work. This year Iain organised a walk from Methyr Tydfil in South Wales, back up the road to Celtic Park, in memory of his mate Jonathan Thomas. He walked every step of the way with Jonathan’s widow, Sian. Jonathan and Sian were married the day before Jonathan passed away. For that selfless piece of fundraising, my mate Iain walks off with the gong again this year. Top, top bloke. We have to do something together in ’17.
The LCFN Music Award’s a gimme. Well, sort of…
Amelie is certainly the genius who wrote the song for Puddles but Amelie would be nothing without her soulmate; her best friend in all the world. So the 2016 music award is shared between Amelie and Ben, who produced, recorded and mixed not just the Puddles track, but the About A Girl CD from which it was lifted. Between you, you changed the face of LCFN in 2016. Thank you.
The Most Random New Supporter Award is going hand in hand with the Toyshop Hoolie Award and both have been scooped by Jennifer Juniper in Italy. JJV, to give her her full title, is an absolute hoot, and most definitely my most favourite Facebook poster of 2016. Putting LCFN wristbands on cuddly toys in shops, then switching them on then uploading the ensuing carnage definitely floats my boat. Chapeau missus, and don’t ever stop having fun!
The Bloke On The Wireless Award is still with JJ. The guy’s simply a legend and it was fantastic when we finally got to meet up at the football in November. The Pro Footballer Award goes to Genaro cos you were man of the match that day and I got to present both yourself and Tessa with wristbands after the game. Have a great ’17 guys and keep spreading the word: G, there’s a gong in it for you next year if I come back down to Nottingham to hand over the rest of the bands…
The Aussie, Aussie, Aussie Award stays in Straya strangely enough, but it moves across town. Y’see when LCFN got Amelie, it didn’t just get Amelie: she came with an entourage of family and friends. If you want to be in it to win it as an extended family, then you want to be a Bottrill, a Chiro or a Taggart. So the Oz3 award goes to Amelie’s cousin Lucilla’s fiance’s mum, Barbie (did you manage to work that out?). Barb’s support of everything LCFN this year has top, top drawer. I kind of suspect that she’s vying with Ammie for number one Puddles fan status. Barb, you’ve been fantastic. Thank you.
The Shifted A Load Of Wristbands Award is a three way job: Gail had such a demand when they first game out that she creamed off most of the stock. But alongside that, Marc punted forty to the Celtic support whilst Ammie shifted fifty in Australia. Guys, you did a gud jab.
The Keep The Wheels Turning Award goes to Fast Rider Cycles of Stewarton, hosted by Neil Kinnaird. For two years now, Neil has kept me on the road, and he even managed to wangle me a new frame this year when my Trek Domane gave up the ghost right on the edge of the twelve month warranty when it took except to my rigorous fifty mile a day schedule on shit roads.
And so to the penultimate award, the Lifetime Achievement Award. People who got one last year don’t really qualify, if you see what I mean, so that rules out Jane and Angela, who would have been stick-ons had they not already got the tee shirt. Ditto Wullie and Gordon. So this year, I want to say thank you to someone who’s followed this journey with interest from day one, and who was unceremonially restructured out of his job half an hour after me back in March: but despite all the upheaval, Les is still there onstage, tapping out an LCFN backbeat. Les, this one’s for you mate. Thank you, and now you have a band to play with…
Finally, to the big award: the LCFN Person Of 2016: the person or persons who have done the most to promote and fight neuroblastoma though the name of LCFN…
It’s a joint award, and I sincerely hope that each will be thrilled to be alongside the other, cos you both sure as hell deserve it. Princess Puddles and Amelie Bottrill, aka Frank Loves Joan, you are my people of 2016. You have made my journey so worthwhile. I cannot thank either of you enough for the spirit and the joy that you brought to the party this year (I know party isn’t quite the right word but you know what I mean).
To Eileidh and Amelie: the dynamic duo. Chapeau.