I ran the Inverness Half Marathon!

img_0984.jpgWe are finally underway.  On Saturday I travelled to Inverness with two of my colleagues ahead of the half marathon on Sunday.  I am very happy to say that I made it to the end and managed to receive a medal to prove it! The journey up was nice and easy with no problems.  There is still definitely a number of people who take crazy risks on the A9 though despite the average speed cameras being in operation.  There was some unbelievable overtaking manoeuvres which I really couldn’t believe I was seeing.  But apart from some numpties on the road it was an uneventful journey up.  Massive thanks must go to Davie and Richard – two of my colleagues who ran the event with me and were a great support! Cheers guys!

Before the event began we had to register at the Inverness sports centre.  Registration couldn’t have been any easier and all credit must go to the organisers because everything really did run extremely smoothly. We had a while to wait between registering and the event beginning at 12.30 but that was certainly no ones fault.  I know for a fact that I set off far too quick and I really paid for that towards the end.  But it’s easy done at the start I think.  Everyone is desperate to get going and in all honesty, the vast amount of people taking part were club runners who were out to set the absolute best times possible.  For me, my time wasn’t the biggest deal in the world.  I don’t think it will be for many, if not all of the events that I take part in.  I am doing them to try and raise money for a fantastic charity and I want to enjoy myself as I do them.  Given how many events I have on the calendar currently and the likelihood that I will add more to them I think it is important that I do my best to enjoy them.  One thing I know for sure however, the Stirling Marathon is going to be a big test – as much mentally as it will be physically.

There was a great atmosphere around Inverness during the event and I think in some ways it helped me round the course.  There is always times where you have to dig deep and the fact there were so many out cheering the runners on was great to see.  My training runs are going to have to now get into some serious distances in the build up to the Stirling marathon.  Hopefully there is an event before then which I would be able to take part in.  If there is, I really want to get involved with it.

Following on from Inverness I was back in to work on Tuesday.  My body was without a doubt sore and a little stiff but it recovered fairly quickly.  Work was fairly standard this week with no real dramas.  We are now into the last month at work of our current shift system and it means that in around 4 weeks time a good portion of my shift will be moving on to a variety of different watches.  It will be a strange time for so many people to be moving about but I guess we have to embrace the change.  If you don’t you just get left behind.

On Saturday I am back through in Edinburgh for the final Scotland match of the RBS 6 nations and hopefully Scotland can make it 3 home wins from 3!  If I am being honest I would be pretty disappointed if they lost to Italy.  Italy are in the grand scheme of things a good international team, but Scotland really are the better side just now and should win the game in my opinion.

Everything seems to be happening at a million miles per hour just now and the days and weeks seem to be absolutely flying by.  Things are catching up with me super quick and I am having to really manage the time that I have to get everything done.  Its not impossible however and if I am smart about the way I manage things I am able to get everything done.

I had a meeting with Sarah, the local fundraising manager for Cancer Research UK and we spoke about the things I have been up to, the events I have committed to and how we are going to keep moving forward.  The meeting was really positive and Sarah is mega helpful with ideas and advice.    It helps having someone who is permanently involved in raising money who has he experience and understanding to make the most of events and opportunities to raise some cash.  Every charity needs a Sarah!  One thing that Sarah told me which I was unaware of previously is that Cancer Research UK only fund the very best research to ensure that every penny is being spent on research that will make a difference to the lives of people who suffer from cancer.

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties” – Erich Seligmann Fromm

On reflection one of the most positive events that I have taken part in in the past few weeks was speaking to the senior pupils at Brechin High School.  The reaction from the talk has been very positive and reaching out to other schools is something I would like to focus on in the coming weeks.  I feel that Angus is a good place to begin and should the reaction be positive there then I will look further afield to Dundee and Perth and Kinross.  The more we speak and engage with people then the better chance we have of raising more money for this fantastic charity.  Plus I generally really like speaking to groups of people and I always maintain that you should do the things that you enjoy.

I will be sure to keep you up to date as we head towards the Stirling Marathon.  I think I am getting better with social media but I know that there is still room for improvement so I am going to keep trying to get better at it.

Thank you as always for all of the support especially in response to the Inverness Half Marathon.  We are finally truly underway and I am immensely happy about that.

J.

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Not what I need…

IMG_1272.pngThis week I was back to work after 12 days of annual leave.  The leave was welcome and my trip to Madrid really was great.  At the minute my next trip abroad will be to Kilimanjaro in September and that really does feel like a long way away.  But I am sure that it will come about a lot quicker in reality.  I swear that the days, weeks, months and years just seem to pass you by quicker and quicker as you get older and I don’t feel particularly old.  I am still on call with the ISAR team for a further 3 months and a trip away could come up anytime.  Albeit that sort of trip will not be for relaxation or leisure and would have very real and most likely quite drastic implications for the people of an effected country.

It is a strange position to be.  We train regularly for the worst case scenarios.  But to put our training into practice, someone, somewhere will be suffering.  As much as I like helping people you would not wish those kind of events on anyone.  There may be a lot of us humans here on this earth, but ultimately mother nature has the ability to be destructive beyond comprehension.  But I guess that is why there are international teams such as UKISAR to help pick up the pieces when it all goes south.

I am lucky that I have been in the profession that I aimed for since the age of 18.  I am thankful that things worked out the way they did and that I have the job and life that I do.  There are definitely a  lot of people out there who haven’t been anywhere near as lucky as I have been and we must all remember that when we are moaning about the most trivial things.  Life could be very different for every single one of us.

“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries” – James Michener

At this minute in time I do not feel particularly great.  What started out as a tickly cough seems to have gotten a bit worse over the past few days.  My back is now extremely sore and moving about is hurting a bit.  It feels a bit like a chest infection but I haven’t been to a doctor so I don’t know that for sure.  Not what I need with just over one week to the Inverness Half Marathon.  I am really hoping that I shift this before then.  I will be completing the half marathon one way or another.  I just really hope I don’t have what ever this is then.  That would be less than ideal.

It is really frustrating me.  I have been building up to this first event and the beginning of my challenges for what feels like ages now and this really wasn’t in the plan.  I am going to take a couple days of good rest and hopefully that sorts me out.  But what I am trying to remember, is that those who are fighting cancer have unexpected hurdles to cross all along the way.  Their journey towards being cancer free is never easy and I guess this is helping put that back in perspective for me.  In a month or two (I can’t remember the exact day) it will be a year since mum was diagnosed for the second time.  I can’t really believe that a year has passed already and so much has happened since then.

As always I still really need your help.  If I am to hit this target we really need to spread this message of positivity, of overcoming adversity and the ability to tackle massive challenges together.  I know for a fact that if we are able to get enough people on board then raising £1 million is quite simple really.  But getting the people on board is difficult and I would ask that you keep sharing the things I get up to.  I know that it may seem a bit repetitive and you may tire of hearing from me a bit.  But I can assure you that every time you help out on social media or mention what I am trying to do to people you are helping beat cancer.  The more awareness and discussion there is about this disease will only help towards putting an end to it once and for all.  £1 is all it takes to make a difference and I am extremely thankful to every single one of you who have made a donation towards the things that I am doing.

It is my intention over the coming weeks to look at other possible running events for this year.  When I first made the decision to try and raise this money, a lot of the running events for this year had not opened for registration and I signed up for those that I could.  It is my intention to try and get ones that work around my shifts and hopefully that shouldn’t be too hard to achieve.  Google is mighty handy when it comes to trying to find different things to take part in.  The ‘Scottish running guide’ is a particularly handy website.  It lists all of the various events and the associated details which makes finding suitable events much easier.   I definitely want to get some other events in my diary though so this is going to become a priority.

This coming week I am going to be at Brechin High School giving a talk to the senior pupils about my fundraising and my motivation for doing it.  Hopefully it will give some of them the encouragement to help charities like Cancer Research UK out by fundraising for them.  I am sure I said right back at the start that this journey was as much about raising lots of money as well as spreading a positive message and this is hopefully the start of being able to take that to a wider audience.  If it goes well hopefully it’ll be the start of a series of sorts where I will be able to talk to larger groups about the things that I am getting up to.

“Everyone goes through adversity in life, but what matters is how you learn from it” – Lou Holtz

Thank you as always.

J.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/JED-SMITH1

Back to work

This week I went back to work after 12 days off.  I must admit that the first day back after being on annual leave is always difficult to get up for.  It generally means getting up at 0630 ish and I am not by any means a morning person.  I don’t think I really ever have been and I reckon it usually takes me a good hour to wake up properly.  It’s especially hard when the sun doesn’t rise until later which only compounds my problem of getting out of bed!

Winter is a season that I do generally enjoy however and in the past year I tried to make an effort to try and learn how to ski.  Whilst I am still very much a beginner I can actually turn and stop which for me is quite an achievement.  Skiing is something that I would like to get better at and I would like to get back out on the slopes sometime soon this winter.  I took lessons at the Snowfactor at the Braehead Arena in Glasgow which seemed reasonably priced and it gives you the chance to learn indoors on real snow.  I took the 4 hour fast track lesson which covers most of the basics and by the end of the 4 hours we were introduced to the main slope.  I definitely need a lot more practice if I am going to improve at all so a trip to one of the Scottish ski resorts or back to Snowfactor has to be worked into the coming weeks and months!  I am keen to go ice climbing again too.  I went ice climbing in Kinlochleven (a town near Glen Coe) a couple of years ago and I really enjoyed it.  I suppose its a somewhat strange sport to get into but the centre in Kinlochleven  is fantastic and there is also an ice wall at Snowfactor.  They are fairly accessible and I didn’t think that it was overly expensive!  Anyway, I have gotten sidetracked!

Having spent some more time looking at the North Coast 500 route I think I may make a trip up north at some point before the actual trip to get some scouting in on the roads.  I am really keen to get up there and cycle the pass over to Applecross which will be without a doubt one of the hardest climbs I have ever tackled on my bike.  Given that during the North Coast 500 I will be taking on that climb after around 100KM on the bike I reckon it is probably sensible to head up do some training on the roads on that area and take on the climb itself.  I think that will allow me to judge where my fitness is at and allow me to make any adjustments in my training plan that I need to.  My preparation for all of my different challenges is going to be really important especially the ability to recover quickly and tackle multiple long days of exertion.  The date for the North Coast 500 isn’t definite but I am aiming to ride it around the 8th of July.  My holidays for April and beyond should be released by the end of this month or early February at the latest and as soon as I have them I will be confirming everything in my diary.  I am really looking forward to being able to firm everything up and share it all with you.  It feels like a while since I decided to start this challenge and I told you all that I was just waiting on my holidays!  Unfortunately I am still waiting but it shouldn’t be too much longer now!  As the saying goes – ‘Good things come to those who wait’.  I really hope that this is true!

I am sure that you can all sympathise with the back to work blues and I do definitely experience them if I am honest.  But on the flip side, I am lucky to have a job that on the whole I enjoy and which has given me a number of fantastic opportunities.  They have been incredibly supportive from the minute that I told them about my plans and I am always extremely thankful for that!  This coming Saturday I am going to be doing a bit of work with Cancer Research UK as part of a press release for World Cancer Day on the 4th of February.  The day is billed as a ‘photoshoot’ but I just keep telling myself it’s for a few photos!  If you have ever met me you will know that I am by no means a model!  But I am keen to be involved and if it helps promote World Cancer Day and gets some more people on board and willing to support my challenge then I am all for it.

With World Cancer Day now fast approaching I would ask that you help support Cancer Research UK in one incredible ‘Act of Unity’ by purchasing and wearing a ‘Unity Band’ in support of those who have suffered and those are currently suffering from cancer.  The recommended donation is £2 albeit you can donate more if you would like (The pictures below shows what they look like!).    The more people get on board and help discuss cancer and it the need for continuing research and funding will hopefully bring forward that the day that we make all cancers curable.

Taking on the 3 peaks challenge is also going to form part of my summer.  Planning is in its very earliest stages but it is something that I definitely want to complete.  I think I might be able to convince some others to come along with me so we will maybe have a small team to attempt this challenge.  I reckon summer is the best time to go for it though using the longer days and nicer weather to our advantage.  Saying that, there is every chance that it could rain through an entire attempt during the summer, we’ll just have to take it as it comes.

Have a look out for the press release in the coming week with Cancer Research UK, hopefully it will help boost the reach of my challenge and help raise more vital money for this charity.

“Where there is unity there is always victory” – Publius Syrus

J.

Creating memories

phone-photos-762There are so many opportunities to create memories as we go about our everyday lives.  I have a huge number of fantastic memories from when I was growing up and I had the chance to travel to some amazing places and meet some incredible people.  What I have discovered recently is that I am terrible at documenting these adventures that I have embarked on.  As much as I can remember the experiences I have had, I don’t have photos or videos of these times.  I think I mentioned it in a previous blog post but as I start to get my challenges underway it is something that I really want to make an effort to do.  This is an amazing journey towards raising £1 million for Cancer Research UK and I really want to be able to look back at it and remember it all.

With the Inverness Half Marathon not too far off now I am looking to start making a vlog.  If you have never heard of a vlog it is short for ‘videoblog’.  I know that I write this blog once a week and there are a number of people who read it, but I know that not everyone enjoys reading and also that a picture can paint a thousand words.  So in making a vlog I will be able to physically take you along on this journey towards raising £1 million for Cancer Research UK.  It’s something that I have been putting some thought into for a while now and something that I am really keen to try and suss out.  I have absolutely no background in film or media and to produce a vlog will be a completely new challenge for me.  However, I think I have taken a lot on now so I probably need to stop giving myself new challenges for a little while and work towards the ones that I currently have set!  A vlog will give you far more insight into who I am, the things I get up to and allow you to follow my challenge in much more depth.

I am quite happy with how my blog is progressing though.  For someone who failed his higher english at the first attempt and scraped a C the second time round I am pretty pleased with the amount of content that I have been able to make.  I hope that you are enjoying reading it and understand how I am thinking about this whole thing.  English was never a great subject for me; I was always far better at physics and music – a strange combination I know!

I have received an invitation to attend an interactive day at Cancer Research UKs Beatson institute in Bearsden, Glasgow in April and I am already looking forward to it.  The day will give me the opportunity to see the impact of fundraising on research and meet others who are supporting Cancer Research UK with fundraising.

I am generally a quiet person and I just keep myself to myself.  This challenge is forcing me to get out and about, to speak to lots of different people and engage with people in a way that I don’t think I have ever done before.  I enjoy giving talks to large groups of people and trying to pass on advice and share my experiences with others.  I am lucky that I get to do this through my work.  This is something I would like to start doing more with my challenges in mind as a way of speaking about the things that me and my family have been through, how we dealt with them and why I am trying to raise £1 million for Cancer Research UK.  If there is a group that you think would like to hear about my challenges and how I approach my day to day life then please don’t hesitate to get in touch, while I am generally a quiet person I really enjoy speaking to people about my challenge and the things that I am getting up to.

With the weather here in Scotland now heading into deep winter I have set up one of my road bikes on my turbo trainer (a device that allows you to cycle on your bike while staying stationary) so that I can maintain my training on the bike whilst the weather is at its worst.  I always prefer to take the bike out on the open road, but from experience, cycling when the weather is really bad just isn’t worth it.  You end up spending the entire ride worrying about the bike going from underneath you on ice and when you are clipped into the pedals that never ends well!  With so much planned for this year the last thing I want is to get injured while training.

You may have noticed that I slightly rebranded my blog and have began using a logo that I designed in order to give my challenge a bit of identity.  It’s fairly simple but took me forever to make!  I am not particularly savvy at design – I’d love to be able to draw but I guess you can either be good at music or art, and I was good at music… At least that is what I am going to put it down to!  I hope you like it and as always if you have any suggestions of things to do or ways to improve it don’t hesitate to get in touch – positive criticism is always welcome.

This blog is helping me create memories though.  I have never kept any sort of diary before and while this doesn’t document every day of my life I think it captures the things that I am thinking from week to week and will be good to look back upon further down the line.  Whilst I think there are lots of opportunities for me to get better at documenting my memories, I think this is a pretty good start and I really hope that you all enjoy it and take a little something from the words that I write each and every week.  The support I have had has been nothing short of amazing and everyone who I meet has so many kind words to say.  I truly can’t thank you all enough for all that you have done to help me so far!

I think this entire experience is going to be one amazing memory!

“Ambition is the path to success.  Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in” – Bill Bradley

J.

Finding inspiration in others

img_0740“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” – Helen Keller

I am in need of your help.  Approximately four months ago I made the decision that I was going to try and raise £1 million for Cancer Research UK and it is a decision that I am extremely glad I made.  I have taken time to evaluate my objections and set goals to help me on my way towards the £1 million mark.  But we are now truly underway and have approximately 9 weeks until I run in the Inverness Half Marathon, the first significant event on my list of goals and objectives along the way.

https://www.facebook.com/jedscancermission/

I want to do my utmost and very best to help Cancer Research UK work towards improving the chances of survival for cancer patients and help maintain the rapid advancements in treatment and care for those who suffer from this disease.  I just need two minutes of your time to like and share my page and help spread the word.  The more people that we get on board and spread the word the better chance we have of helping to raise all of this money.  As a result we have the opportunity to make a really significant difference in helping Cancer Research UK.  If you can spare £1 then I’d be more than grateful and I know that Cancer Research UK are extremely thankful for every pound that is donated to them to help advance their research.

Cancer Research UK is a very big charity and they do receive a lot of donations; however we have to remember that the research into cancer is unbelievably expensive and they really do need every penny they can get to help fight this battle.  I can say first hand that their research has saved the lives of a number of my family members and the lives of a great number of friends as well.  I don’t think there is anything more cruel than becoming ill and having the ability to go about your everyday life taken away from you.  We all know that our time here is limited and cancer can take that away from people who are only just getting started with their lives.

I take a huge amount of inspiration from Stephen Sutton, a teenager who you might remember from ‘Stephens’ Story’ which followed him as he battled with terminal cancer.  Unfortunately Stephen lost his battle with cancer in 2014, but before he did he made a massive impact upon improving the way that people perceive cancer and how they go about their everyday lives.  There are a number of speeches that Stephen gave during his battle with cancer which I watch regularly and I would urge you to watch them on Youtube if you can.  Stephen often spoke of the true value of the number 86400.  If someone gifted you £86400 at midnight every night and told you that you had 24 hours to spend it before you were given another £86400, you would more than likely find a way to spend it.  What so many of us don’t realise is that we are gifted 86400 seconds every day to meet new people, appreciate those around us, to enjoy new experiences and appreciate the lives that we are given.  So many of us fail to spend the vast majority of those seconds that we are given and waste them away.

Stephen had a huge impact on me, at the time my mum was fighting with breast cancer and Stephen always had the ability to make you positive about the situations that life deals you.  I truly wish that I had had the opportunity to meet him and thank him for giving me an improved outlook on my life and a better appreciation for everyone around me.  I nominated Stephen along with many others for a ‘Pride of Britain’ award in recognition of everything that he did during his short but full life and was extremely happy when I heard that he was to receive one.  I just wish that he had been able to receive the award which was presented to his mum in his memory.

I doubt that I will ever be able to achieve in the way that Stephen did, but almost three years on from his death he is always in my thoughts as I set out to try and help finance new research into the disease that claimed his life.

“From someone who wants more time in this world, please don’t waste yours, you’d be amazed what you can achieve when you try” – Stephen Sutton

As well as trying to fit in my runs as I build up to the Inverness Half Marathon in March, I am going to be getting on the bike just about everyday in order to start putting the miles into my legs ahead of riding the North Coast 500 and then from John O’Groats to Lands End.  Ideally I’d prefer to get out on the road but for days when I am working and it will be dark before I am home I have a turbo trainer that I can use to keep logging time on the bike.  I think I may have a companion for the North Coast 500 in the form of a colleague whom I have worked with for almost the last 5 years and who works on the International Search and Rescue team with me.  I think it’s going to help a lot having Steve riding with me; I always find it easier to dig a little deeper when I am riding with someone else!  The offer to join me on any of my trips or outings is always there and if you fancy giving something a try and raising some money for Cancer Research UK I’d be more than happy to have you join me!

As I said at the start of this weeks piece, if you could spare me two minutes of your time to help promote what I am doing I would massively appreciate it!

Many thanks as always.

J.

Taking Life For Granted

On Sunday the 20th I experienced an extremely humbling moment.  I had spent the day with mum at the Gleneagles hotel enjoying afternoon tea.  Mum had asked if I would like to go and having never been I felt it was an experience I shouldn’t turn down. I would suggest that it is not my usual haunt, however the food was fantastic and the service impeccable.  I could not fault the afternoon.  Whilst it was a great afternoon I don’t think it will be a regular event in my diary, more a treat.

Myself and mum don’t often get the chance to go and do things together and the afternoon out to Gleneagles was a welcome one.  You see I think we all take life for granted.  We all too often fail to realise that it could all end in the blink of an eye.  Whilst I would hope that everyone lived long and prosperous lives it unfortunately doesn’t always work out like that.  For a huge part of my life I did just that.  I took life for granted.  I never truly appreciated what I had and how quickly it could all be lost.

When we returned home from Gleneagles I popped onto Facebook for my usual flick through.  I very quickly stumbled upon a post about a little 4 year old girl – Jessica Whelan, who had just passed away that morning from cancer.  I almost feel ashamed to say that I had never heard about Jessica who had been battling with cancer since September 2015.  I noticed an image of Jessica taken by her dad, writhing in pain because of her cancer.  No one should ever have to fight with cancer, let alone a little girl who never had the opportunity to truly experience life.  Cancer is cruel.  I don’t think I have ever believed it to be so true.

It brought the day I had had with mum right into context.  I realised just how lucky I am that I still have my mum around and that I still get to enjoy time with her.  Not just mum but all of my family members and friends who have battled with this disease.

I get frustrated with myself every now and then.  When I realise that I am slipping back into the comfort of pretending that we have endless time to enjoy life and experience the world.  There are so many things to do, so many places to see and yet we allow ourselves to become complacent and we constantly put our dreams on hold for one reason or another.  We put things off until another day.  I know that I have been more guilty of this than anyone.  But when cancer came calling so close to home it gave me the wake up call I needed.  Our time is limited and we must make the most of it.  We all have differing dreams and aspirations, we may not all agree to experience the same things, but what I think we should all agree upon is that life is short.  It can end quicker than we appreciate and we must make the most of the time that we have and live lives that end with no regrets.

For a long time travelling was something which I did, but I wasn’t overly bothered about.  As a kid I never travelled outside of the UK until I was about 12 when I went to France for the first time.  It wasn’t because my parents didn’t want to take us abroad they just couldn’t afford it at the time.  I’m not complaining though, I had so many opportunities through my childhood that helped turn me into the person I am today and I am extremely grateful for that.  But going to France and experiencing another culture was incredible.  I think I realised then how big the world was and how much places there were to visit and experience.  I am extremely fortunate that I have had the opportunity to visit Japan and the USA and to travel around Europe.  I am desperate to get my next adventure planned to visit somewhere new have a new experience.  New York and other cities in the US are pretty high on my list of places to visit as well Australia and New Zealand, Africa, Nepal and the list goes on and on!  Of course there are also so many more places in Scotland and the UK that I would  like to visit and experience and I will get the opportunity in time.  For me, an experience is worth a thousand possessions.

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“Life has no limitations except the ones you make” – Les Brown

This has been a fantastic experience so far.  I have learned a huge amount and spoken to so many people about why we need to do research and why we need to make sure that the funding exits for  the research to happen.  I started this whole thing because I wanted to help people who are suffering from cancer and prevent others from ever having to experience this disease.  But what I am realising, is that it is teaching me that I must make the most of the life that I have been given and take every experience and opportunity that are presented to me.  We must measure our lives by experiences and not by time alone.

Remember donating is super easy, you just have to follow the link below:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/JED-SMITH1

J.

Who am I?

Who am I?

I think I forgot that people may read this blog or follow my challenges who don’t know me and have never met me.

So, I guess it might be worth spending some time to let you all you know just that.

For those who don’t know, my name is Jed Smith.  I am a 23 year old from the east coast of Scotland.  I work full-time as a Firefighter with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in Dundee and I also work as an Urban Search and Rescue Technician on the UK International Search and Rescue Team.

I had what I would class as a fairly normal childhood growing up in a small seaside town attending the local primary and secondary schools.  When I was 7 years old, I convinced my parents to take me along to a fun day which was being organised by my local Boys Brigade company (I heard they had been quad biking which I thought was awesome!).  Having decided that the prospect of getting to go quad biking was high I asked my parents if I could go.  They agreed and I joined the Boys Brigade.  Needless to say, in the 10 years I spent in the Boys Brigade I never did go quad biking with them.  In hindsight I joined for completely the wrong reasons, it was purely to do one thing that I thought would be fun.  Whilst I never went quad biking I did get the opportunity to do far more than my 7 year old self had ever thought possible.  I made some exceptional friends and learned a huge amount about myself, about teamwork and about discipline.  I firmly believe that the Boys Brigade has had a huge impact on turning me into the person I am today and I think joining the Boys Brigade was the best decision 7 year old me could ever have made.  I left the Boys Brigade at the age of 17 having risen to the highest rank of Staff Sergeant and obtaining the highest award available, the ‘Queens Badge’.

Some people have told me its ‘just a badge’, but to me it has far more meaning.  To obtain the Queens Badge takes 2 long years of hard work and determination.  My company captain and his officers were all fantastic and wanted the best for everyone.  But they did not sign off on a Queens Badge lightly.  If you did not meet the criteria then they simply would not sign your application.  This is not to say that it was impossible to achieve but more to show if you put in the required work and met the standard you would be successful.  I have found this to be an incredibly important lesson in life.  It meant receiving the Queens Badge had far more meaning than exam results ever did.

Towards the end of primary school I began learning to play the Tuba.  Little did I know at the time that I would get to travel across the globe playing it or be a member of a number of very successful bands.  I suppose I was fairly good at it, but the people I played with were amazing and a lot of them are now music teachers and play in some of the best bands and orchestras in the world.   I was never that good! Playing the Tuba ended up occupying a huge amount of my time and once you added the Boys Brigade into the equation, the only free night I had through my teens was a Tuesday.  The Tuesday was often busy as well however going to competitions with the BB or another band practice.  I was certainly kept occupied so getting into trouble was well out of the equation, not that I was that kind of person anyway.  I became a member of the National Youth Brass Band of Scotland and went on a tour of Japan with them in 2008.  Who ever thought at 14 years of age I would be touring Japan.  I certainly didn’t.  If you have never been to Japan, go!  Its the most incredible country with amazing people.  I’d love to go back!

I was involved in number of different groups at school;  the F1 in schools challenge where you CAD (computer aided design) a wood car which was then manufactured using CNC (computer numerical controlled) router and raced at competitions.  On the back of a competition I had the opportunity to spend a week doing work experience with Jaguar at their manufacturing facility in Castle Bromwich, Birmingham.  This was an amazing opportunity for someone who has a massive interest in cars!  I also took part in the Duke of Edinburghs Award and obtained every level. Bronze, Silver and Gold.  The Duke of Edinburghs Award is the most fantastic scheme which introduced me to the mountains of Scotland and taught me more skills again, than I ever thought it would.

What I most definitely noticed throughout my youth, was that when you take opportunities that are presented to you and you work hard at them, success will find your way.

My fourth year standard grade results were good, but nothing incredible and my following higher results were average I would say.  Looking back, I could have done far better in my highers had I put in the effort.  I suppose they are my one regret from school.  I could have and probably should have achieved better grades than I did.

I left school having been elected as a School Captain and achieving a lot to begin my studies for a BA (Hons) in Management at the University of Abertay, Dundee.  Having studied for one year at Abertay I received an email to say my application to join Tayside Fire and Rescue had been successful and subject to a medical I would be offered a Firefighters post.  This has to be one of the best emails I have ever received.  Five weeks after receiving the email I had completed my first year exams and left Abertay, joining Tayside Fire and Rescue as a Trainee Firefighter on the 7th of May 2012 at the ripe old age of 18.

I attended the Scottish Fire Services College in Gullane, East Lothian and following a 13 week course I graduated as a Firefighter in development on the 24th of August 2012.  For anyone who notices that there are more than 13 weeks between those 2 dates we had a two weeks off in the middle as the college closed for its summer break!  Following another period of training upon returning from the college I joined my watch on the 16th of September 2012 (I have a strange ability to remember dates and number plates, I know its useless and bit strange, but it’s just something I do!).  I transferred on the 1st of April 2013 to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and on the 7th of May 2015 following three years of extensive training and folio work I qualified as a fully ‘Competent’ Firefighter.  In my time with the Fire Service I have also qualified as an ‘Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Technician’.  What does this involve? In its most simple sense it is the rescue of people from collapsed structures.  I am also a USAR Technician with the UK International Search and Rescue team who respond on behalf of the UK to disasters all over the world.  As yet I have not been deployed but there is every chance that I will in time.  The team is one of around 30 ‘Heavy USAR’ teams in the world who are officially classified by the United Nations.  At present their are 14 Firefighters from Scotland who contribute to the UK team.

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And now, well I am trying to raise £1 Million for Cancer Research UK because I am fed up seeing family and friends suffering from the disease.  It’s my new challenge, my largest goal, but one that I am confident I will achieve!

Should you want to know anymore just leave me a message!

If you would like to donate even a couple of pounds just follow the link below, its quick and easy!

“In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can” – Nikos Kazantzakis

J.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/JED-SMITH1

How are we going to do this?

SO, how are we going to do this?

I’ve set myself the target of raising £1 Million for Cancer Research UK.  A huge target I admit.  I have been involved in charity fundraising, it has usually been fairly successful as well.   But, I have NEVER taken on a project as large as this.  Before I answer the question of how, I should maybe discuss why.

Why?  My family have fought Cancer a number of times over the years and to be quite honest I am fed up seeing them suffering.   Battling through surgery after surgery, session after session of chemotherapy and seemingly never ending sessions of radiotherapy.  It simply sucks.  You feel helpless, unable to do anything to help get rid of it.  I mean you can make a proper good cup of tea, talk with them when they need a shoulder to lean on and make sure they are receiving all the vital nutrients their bodies need.  Despite how determined you are to help make them better, it always feels like you are extremely limited.  It’s such a horrible position to be in.  When you see family members and friends continually suffering all because of the same disease it all becomes quite tiresome.

Cancer is pretty widespread amongst my family but it hit me hardest when my mum was diagnosed for the second time in three years.  In 2013 she was diagnosed with Breast cancer. She needed the whole shooting match; surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but came out the the other side just as positive as ever.  In May 2016 she phoned from work in tears to tell me that she had been diagnosed with Endometrial Cancer.  To be honest, this news hit me far harder than the first time.  I had time to come to terms with the fact that she might have had cancer the first time (while all the tests were ongoing) and to be honest I think I dealt with it fairly well.  I think the more recent diagnosis hit me harder, because I didn’t have any time to prepare myself for the news.  I knew my mum was undergoing tests in line with her regular check up schedule but a diagnosis of Cancer wasn’t something I thought I would hear.  I guess I had convinced myself that she had fought and won her battle and that was her in the clear.  A Thursday morning, I had just returned home from nightshift and was away to jump into the shower when mum phoned from work in tears and told me of the diagnosis.  Mum knows I’d rather just be told upfront about things like this, it allows me to process the picture much better if I have all the information to hand.  I don’t see the point in skirting around the subject, in the end it doesn’t make it go away.  Needless to say, her boss told her to head home and take some time to process everything, something which I am very glad happened.  It gave the two of us the time to sit and discuss everything properly.  It frustrates me when people bad mouth the NHS.  I can’t say anything but the highest of praise for everyone in the NHS we have ever dealt with.  Thankfully, surgery solved the problem on its own this time and approximately 6 or 7 weeks after being diagnosed mum was cleared of the Cancer and back in remission.  To top this all off there are 2 other members of my family who are suffering from the disease…

I suppose that’s why I am doing this, to prevent people having to suffer from the disease and prevent families and friends from having to watch those who they care about suffering because of this disease.  I also want to prove to anyone who is suffering from Cancer and their friends and families that you can achieve anything with a positive attitude.  While I have never fought Cancer myself, I do know what it takes.

How then?  Well I intend to cycle, run and climb in order to raise this money and fund the vital research that is being conducted.  Living in Scotland I am extremely lucky to have 282 mountains that are over 3000ft (Munros to locals) in height.  It is my intention to climb a minimum of 4 per month.  As challenging as some Munros are they will serve another purpose; training for climbing the worlds tallest free standing mountain – Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa.  At 5895M or 19341ft it will be a major challenge, but one I am looking forward to!  Another mountainous challenge I am hoping to complete is the 3 peaks.  The 3 peaks involves climbing the highest peaks in Scotland (BenNevis), England (Scafell Pike) and Wales (Snowdon) in under 24 hours.  Running half marathons and marathons are also on the agenda and I will sign up to these as they become available.  In terms of my cycling challenges I have a few planned.  The first will be cycling the North Coast 500 (Scotlands answer to Route 66).  This is a 500 mile loop around the north of the country that starts and ends in Inverness.  Progressing from here it is my intention to cycle the length of the UK from John O’Groats to Lands End covering approximately 1000miles.

So, there’s lots planned for the coming months and 2017, but I am excited and positive.  I know that in time we will get there.  I only need 1 million people to donate £1 and how hard can that be?

Donating is quick and easy, you just need to follow this link.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/JED-SMITH1

Every single pound donated WILL make a difference and help fund the research that will in time eradicate this disease.

“For success, attitude is equally as important as ability” – Sir Walter Scott

J.

 

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