Before 2014, I had heard of the charity Sue Ryder, but I didn't realise how much of an impact they would have during some of the toughest times of my life. Originally from Shropshire, I relocated down south in May 2013 after I had finished university to pursue a career in civil aviation at Gatwick Airport. Starting off in Surrey, it was perfect being close to a lot of my Dad's side of the family who are all based in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.
In September 2013, my Granny was diagnosed with bowel cancer for the second time and had extensive surgery to clear it. The operation had been successful, but the week before Christmas 2013 my family were given the devastating news that the bowel cancer had become terminal secondary cancer on her brain in the form of two tumours.
She started off in her own home for the first few weeks with nurses and family visiting her daily, but it became clear quite quickly that she was unable to stay there and needed round the clock, end of life care. This is where our family was introduced to Sue Ryder for the first time, as my Granny was moved into their hospice in Nettlebed, Oxon. They made sure the last two weeks of my Granny's life were as comfortable and as dignified as possible and she passed away peacefully on 28th February 2014. Not only did she receive faultless care, we as a family felt completely overwhelmed by the support we received both during her short time there and after she passed away. Even though I am now living in West Sussex due to my job, I have been desperate ever since to give something back to this very special place.
Football is my passion; I follow the Royals about home and away, moving shifts and taking time off to go to as many games as I can. I first went to watch one of their games in 2006 and it's a love affair that I've never been able to get rid of. With all the change in my life that comes with growing up and moving away from home, it's the one thing that stays constant in my life. There's nothing I'd rather be doing on a Saturday afternoon (or Tuesday night; or whenever Sky decide to move the game to!) than spending 90 minutes going through the roller-coaster of emotions that comes with being a football supporter with my Mum by my side.
When my Granny passed away, I wanted to get back to normality as quickly as possible and going to watch the Royals the very next day provided that temporary relief. I still remember it now, Reading managed to draw 1-1 with a Yeovil side pretty much guaranteed to be relegated, and who'd had three players sent off. I wouldn't expect anything less from Reading, and it certainly took my mind off the heart-breaking weeks prior to that game.
With this in mind I have decided to take on the 92 in 92 challenge in November 2015; visiting all 92 football league grounds in England (and the three Welsh representatives) in less than 92 hours. I was originally going to start at Crawley Town and finish at Brighton and Hove Albion due to my location, but something just didn't feel right about finishing and not being able to watch the Royals. So, I've made life difficult for myself and added another 120 miles onto a journey already covering nearly 2200 miles just so I can finish at a Reading game. My challenge now starts at 18:00 on Tuesday 3rd November at Brighton and Hove Albion, and will finish no later than 14:00 on Saturday 7th November at the Cardiff City Stadium in time to watch the Royals visit the Bluebirds.
It'll be one of the most difficult challenges I've faced, but doing it in my Granny's memory and knowing all the money I raise will go to such a fantastic cause will make it all worthwhile.
You can get in contact for any details if you would like to get involved and stay up to date with my challenge through the following social media platforms:
If you would like to make a donation and help Sue Ryder continue to provide care and support to families like ours then please visit my justgiving page.
SRNB92 followed by £1, £5, £10 or £20 to 70070 eg. SRNB92 £5