Adrian’s and Tom’s Walk For Wishes – a different view
Okay here goes on a report on the Walk for Wishes event. I am not qualified to write this properly as I didn’t do any walking. Some months ago Phil Howarth, a friend, colleague and fellow member of the Dead Ducks MCC brought it up at a club meeting that some people in Dell were thinking about walking from Dell’s offices in Cherrywood, Dublin to the Dell offices in Limerick some 200km away. Phil had volunteered the clubs services to help out with the event,
The Dead Ducks are a motorbike club with a difference. As well as being a bit crazy about all things bike, the club is also dedicated to raising funds for Down Syndrome Ireland (DSI). The club and it’s members raised 40,000 euro in the last 12 months for Down Syndrome Ireland and we were presented with a special recognition award for all our efforts. We have 26 members with several decades of biking experience between us and couple that with a wealth of experience helping out on many events most notably the RevUp4DSI means we bring a great deal of event marshalling experience to any event.
With that bit of background I can tell you that Phil and I had run an Ice Cream Day in Cherrywood last year and raised over 1000euro for DSI and hope to raise as much again when we run it again on the 4th July next. So when Phil brought the walk to our attention we thought here is a way to give something back.
We have helped out on motorbike and cycling events so a walk should be a dawdle! You would think. It presented all sorts of challenges but more on that later.
First let me take you to day 5. The Ducks had agreed to provide cover on day 1 and day 5 of the 5 day event, the two days that the group would have to negotiate city streets and have their numbers swelled by many people joining them in their worthy endeavour.
The Ducks day starts a little different to the walkers. We note from the Internet feeds that they set off around 7:15 in the morning. I, on the other hand, turn over in my bed and grab another 30 mins sack time. The Ducks are meeting up at 9:30 with the intention of reaching the group around the time they hit Birdhill. Plenty of time for a leisurely pace run down to a service station just before Naas. I arrive there at 8:50. I am early as I am keen to get on and hook up with the group. Phil is even more anxious, he has been sitting in the service station for 20 minutes already. I grab a coffee and we await the two other ducks to join us. By 9:30 we are very anxious as the two other Ducks haven’t arrived yet. By the time they do we are not hanging around. It’s time to get moving.
And move we do. Conditions are atrocious, high winds and rain but we know what we are doing and press on. The journey is uneventful to the point of boredom except one lane change I executed. I didn’t signal, didn’t check my mirrors, actually didn’t intend to change lanes. The cross wind caught me unawares but only that once,
We arrive just north of Nenagh and Phil is making a move for the exit but I know we need to keep taking advantage of the motorway for at least another 10 clicks. Two exits later are we are off the motorway and on roads we love, fast primary routes with good visibility but plenty of twists and turns to keep us entertained,
I get a little nervous as we pass through Birdhill. There is no sign of the main group. It is with great relief that I suddenly spot in the distance a group of people at the side of the road with Hi-Viz vests. We had found them.
We quickly dismount and go searching for tea but the first sight that greets us is Bradley Powell getting a serious deep tissue massage from the paramedic. The five days have started to take there toll but Bradley is in good spirits and throws out a hand for a hearty handshake.
I wander around and get that vital cup of tea. I also get some of the stickers for the bikes. Don Moore is with us today and wasn’t with the crew on Monday. We want to get some crew stickers on his bike. It just makes it easier for us if we can easily pick each other out in traffic. But we also throw a couple of “Make a Wish” stickers. It’s important to let the general public know why we are there.
Don is getting the stickers sorted when I wander by the paramedic station again, this time it is scary. Tom is getting his ankle strapped up. It doesn’t look good. Tom is playing it down but I am worried for him as I know how much it means to him to finish. There is 20km to go of the 200km walk and to have to give up now would be devastating.
It’s not long before we are getting moving. I head down the road to cover off a junction with my fellow Ducks taking up positions on junctions further ahead. As per the first day it is not long before the walkers arrive at the junction but there is very quickly a split in the group. Taking up the tail end is Tom. I see him grimace and I make an attempt to say something witty to keep his spirits up. He is limping a bit but you can see he is determined.
We continue for the next 9 kilometres jumping from junction to junction. About 1km from the 30km mark there is a tricky bit where we need to get everyone to cross the road. It is a very busy road. The group has split up into a number of groups. The main body is quickly and safely across the road. Other groups quickly follow but the truck drivers don’t look like they are in the mood for taking prisoners. We encourage them to slow down and eventually they comply with our request. I see Tom coming up to the crossing point, is he running? He seems to have found a rhythm and is pushing hard to make up the distance.
We finally get everyone across the road and it is a relatively simple and safe task to get everyone to the Kilmurray hotel for a much needed break.
At the hotel there is a Redbull truck belting out some music but only a few seem to be in the mood for dancing. It is raining but that isn’t enough to dampen spirits. Everyone knows that the next 10km is the last leg and people are anxious for the off. Meanwhile I have a little win. I send Aidan Lynam off to look for food as we suspect there may be sandwiches. Aidan goes through the crowd of nearly 100 people to see what he can find. While he is gone someone hands me a delicious bacon and egg sandwich. Woo Hoo! Aidan comes back empty handed and in the true spirit of the Dead Ducks I stand fast on my refusal to share.
Meanwhile the strapping on Tom’s ankle seems to be doing the trick. He is looking a lot more comfortable. However the Ducks are about to face a couple of serious challenges. I have a quick chat with Adrian and Martin and they talk through the next leg of the route and we have a couple of major roundabouts to get people through safely. What’s more we only have 4 Ducks and that leaves us a bit light for a major intersection. Another thing that struck us is the complexity of escorting a walking group. For other events with motorbikes or even bicycles we would ignore minor junctions and just cover off the major ones however with walkers every junction is a danger. What this means is that we have little time to scout out ahead or plan. The Groody roundabout is busy. Very busy! If we are to get everyone safely across we are going to need to rely on the patience and goodwill of other road users. It takes two of us to warn other road users, myself and Don. Aidan is held up at the previous minor junction and Phil is scouting ahead to the next. Phil has to take point as he is the only one with the route programmed into his GPS. The rest of us Ducks are just lost in Limerick.
The walkers, some of whom have now walked over 30km, are starting to split into groups. Obviously for us it would be better to have just one big group but completely unreasonable not to expect people to have different levels of fitness. In fact the real heroes for me were those people at the back who for whatever reason could not keep up but persevered with the walk.
Next up for the Ducks is the Parkway roundabout, one of the busiest in Limerick. I know the group are turning left but they are walking on the right of the road, They need to cross and I make the decision that we need to get them safely across before the actual roundabout. Crossing at the roundabout is just too dangerous. We roll up about 100m from the roundabout and ask traffic to slow down. People in their cars can clearly see what is going on and give us the benefit of their courtesy and stop. The main group are safely across. The remaining groups of walkers are not far behind and repeat the exercise. Phew! Job done.
The rest of the route is relatively straight forward with little or no cause for concern. I do note however that the hero group at the back is growing with people now using walking poles to support their efforts. I am so glad I am helping out in the way I am and not actually walking.
On a lighter note we did have a couple of incidents. With our Hi-Viz yellow jackets you could be forgiven for mistaking us as members of the Garda Siochana. Obviously a couple of motorists did not welcome the prospect of a close inspection as we noted some very dubious u-turns close to junctions where we were stationed. However the funniest moment was when Aidan stepped out into traffic in order to encourage the traffic to stop to let the walkers pass when he noticed the occupants of the first car. It was two ERU Gardai complete with MP5 sub-machine guns strapped to their chests. He gave them his best dumb oops smile. They laughed!
So there you are, that’s our story of how we tried to help this noble endeavour. Oh I left out a bit!
The final kilometre into Dell’s offices in Raheen. I have no idea of how many we had at that point but it was a lot of people. As we arrived the walkers were given a fantastic and much deserved welcome. There was a band playing, bouncey castles for the kids, the all important tea and coffee. Thanks for the sausage rolls too. Wonderful atmosphere and a tremendous welcome for all the hard pressed walkers.
Adrian and Tom made great speeches thanking everyone for their support. It was, well, emotional!
As for the Ducks, well this was all about the walkers. Grab a tea or a coffee, quick pit stop in the facilities and we bowed out. Time to head for home. It took us 6 hours to make the journey from Dublin today. It took us a little less to get home again. I won’t say how long as somebody with a calculator may be able to say that we may have strayed over the speed limit……………….a tad!
Lessons Learnt covering a charity WALK
EVERY junction has to be covered
Walkers move fast, much faster than you would think.
The general public are wonderful (we actually already knew that one)
Tom is a man of iron.
No rest for the wicked. The Dead Ducks will be at the Classic Car and Bike show in Mondello on Sunday, selling Ice Cream to raise funds for DSI.
If you enjoyed the read and would like to support the Walk for Wishes, a noble endeavour, raising funds for the wonderful Make A Wish charity then please visit the link below to the Mycharity page and donate some money. Even a single euro makes a difference. Go on ya know you want to!!