I arrived nice and early having set off at some unearthly hour of the morning and I was happy, relaxed and yes, excited. The weather was stunning and the setting was equally beautiful. Now usually I am blind terrified of entering a place which is full of people I don’t know (hello anxiety), but strangely I was quite ok. I think this is because having followed so many of these people over the last 2 years I felt like I almost knew them.
Also, I need not have worried. The Ordnance Survey team who greeted me were so welcoming and instantly put me at ease. Them and the coffee’s I drank (I don’t drink caffeine…. Oops). Oh and the pastry!
As the day went on I met more and more people, those who I knew from Instagram and many new faces who honestly looked as wide eyed and in awe as me. It was so amazing to talk to such a wide range of people who are truly champions of the great outdoors from those who have climbed the world’s highest peaks to those who support young people with learning difficulties. Utterly humbling, inspirational and what on earth was I doing here????
In the evening we had a delicious meal and had the opportunity to talk more about our own personal experiences and journeys. Well to say I was bowled over is an understatement. The nerves and anxiety started to settle in at this point and I was really starting to think that I did not deserve to be amongst these people. Surely my experience, my journey was nowhere as epic as theirs? Had I been prepared, and done my research then I would perhaps have been able to cope better.
Everything though changed when my mobile rang. I was not expecting a call. I tentatively answered it to hear a good friend on the end of the line. He was audibly upset and the blood immediately drained from my body and I went cold. He proceeded to break the news that a young mutual friend of ours had committed suicide the day before. I was stunned. He was 19.
The next 30 minutes I went through a gamut of emotions. I escaped to the ladies toilet and called my husband, my no.1 go to in everything I do. He was calm and supportive as I told him the news and then proceeded to get upset that I shouldn’t be there, I wasn’t like the others. I wasn’t good enough to be a ’champion’ of anything. Oh the anxiety is so thoughtless isn’t it, at a time when I should have been thinking of others all I could do was worry about myself.
My husband settled me down and quietly said......
‘you are there for a reason, a good reason and this news makes it even more necessary for you to keep doing what you are doing. You need to get people talking about mental health, you need to get people outside and helping themselves to improve their lives. Now wipe your tears and get back in there. Its your time’.
So I did. I went back, I enjoyed meeting my fellow champions and I had a wonderful night. And although I awoke the next day tired, emotional and overcome with anxiety I did get back out there and go for the Champions walk. I was quiet, I was shy, I was overcome with sadness and worry but I did it. I did it for me, I did it for my friend who had felt lost, and I shall continue to do it and write about it honestly and openly and hopefully inspire you, your family, your friends, colleagues, anyone and everyone to #GetOutside, see this beautiful country we live in, talk about their mental health and improve it.