Category Archives: Life Skills

An Inspirational Talk

Today I had the pleasure in attending the annual National Sales Conference which was being held at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry. It was the first time I’d attended this event.

Over 500 people turned out for a jam packed day of talks, seminars and networking. There were some good topics and presenters (there were also some that weren’t as good…..sorry), but the best was definitely saved until the end.

Sir Clive Woodward spoke for just under an hour about his time as Head Coach of England Rugby when they won the World Cup. What an inspirational chap. He spoke about the DNA of Champions, and how he worked with his squad, helping them to be crowned champs. It was such a perfect way to end the day. I came away buzzed from his lasting words, and it was great to hear his tales and experiences. I just loved to hear all the positivity.

If you ever get the chance to hear him talk, my advice would be make time in your diary.

(Thanks to my buddy Butler from the Meeting Industry Association for arranging my ticket for the day).

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Hard Work & Dedication

As many of you will know, just over 4 years ago I was a ‘fatty bum bum’. Weighing in at 19 stone. A poor diet. Very rarely exercising (I couldn’t run a bath, let alone a race!). The photo proves it (I hate this photo).

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But hard work and dedication pays off. I’m finishing the year feeling fit and healthy. Running 25+ miles a week. A healthy diet, and weighing in at 12 stone. Quite simply I feel awesome.

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2018 will be an exciting year for me, as I will compete in the Blackpool Marathon in April. I sure with my positive mental attitude and concise training plan, I will succeed.

Its just proof that you can really do anything if you put your mind to it.

I love the saying:

“If you believe you can, or you believe you can’t, you’re probably right!”

Here’s to a healthy and happy 2018.


Count Your Blessings

As I walked through town today, I was shocked by the number of homeless people I saw either sitting on the cold concrete floor with their life belongings next to them; slumped in store doorways with only cardboard boxes as a shelter; or cocooned in their sleeping bag on a park bench. I suppose it hits home more at this time of year, as the temperature plummets and we all watch people spending money they haven’t actually got (a figure I heard today was £8bn was spent on Black Friday this year – that’s obscene).

My home town is no different to any other though. It’s certainly not as bad as the big cities, and nowhere close to what you see in London. But it doesn’t make it any easier. I have many times purchased hot drink and food for these folk, but I can’t help continually asking questions in my head about their situation.

How, firstly, have they ever got to this stage? Automatically I think drugs, drink, money, crime etc has lead them to this. Is this right? Could it just be a case of bad luck and life dealing them a continuos bad hand?

I ask myself, how have they not got anyone in their network to call upon? Family? Friends? Old neighbours or acquaintances?

I’m cynical – I never give them hard cash, I automatically think it will get spent on things that are not good for their body – rather than a warm Greggs sausage roll and a cuppa. Am I wrong to think that? I’d much prefer to treat them to something they need. But I look at the pile of sandwiches, drinks, biscuits that are sometimes next to them, and think they could eat better than some with a roof over their head.

I feel sad when I see anyone alone in the street. The Christian in me wants to talk, help, support, and make right the situation for them. But I know for every one person I try to help, there’d be dozens more. I feel for the poor animals that are also dragged into this lifestyle. Is it fair on them? What life is it for these animals? I know they probably offer a reassuring love and companionship to the guys on the street, but is it right?

So what is it that homeless person actually wants or needs? Food? Drink? Bed for the night? Employment? A hot shower? Clothes & blankets? I’d love to ask the question, but have no idea how it would be received.

I never look down on them. I try very hard not to judge. You do not know what goes on in people’s lives and shouldn’t pass judgement until you know the facts.

I am an extremely positive person, and also consider myself to be very lucky with family and close friends who I would like to think would never allow me to ever come close to the scenarios these poor homeless people must be suffering everyday. But this makes me feel sad that to get a stage of complete homelessness, only a plastic bag of belongings; one layer of clothing; and the worry everyday of whether they’ll actually wake from their cold slumber.

So, how can it change? Is this just the norm now – and what we must all appreciate in society?

I regularly think that the world is more and more messed up everyday. Individuals that are paid huge amounts of money for what they do (we all know the industries this applies to). The way money is shared around does seem a little top heavy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure plenty of that cash gets filtered down to well deserved charitable causes, but there will just never be enough to make things right will there?

I for one, know I could never manage life on the streets. Not even for one night I’m sure. It must be awful. I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is coming from. I don’t have to worry about what clothes to wear, how to keep warm, or when I can take my next hot shower. I’ve worked hard in life, so I deserve the lifestyle I have created for myself, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel saddened as I walk through town each week.

I don’t know what your thoughts are about our homelessness situation, the people and animals affected by it, and what you might already do to help the situation (if anything). Would be great to hear your thoughts.

I will continue to support where I can. After all that’s what human beings were put on this earth for – to help each other. I hope that God continues to look over these unfortunate people and keeps them safe and warm, especially this Christmastime.

God bless you all. Be thankful for everything you have folks, no matter how big or small.

(For ref: Image taken from Google for visual effect. I didn’t start snapping people on the street, I’m not that insensitive!)

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It kind of makes it all worthwhile….

For the last 10 years I have supported a wonderful charity – The Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance. I have helped run many corporate charity events, personally ran 5k, 10k and half marathons, all raising much needed cash for the charity. I now also have a standing order from my company account making a monthly charitable donation to this wonderful cause. Is it worth it?- you bet your bottom dollar it is! Today I experienced first hand why it is so important – and as if I needed any re confirmation of the importance of this service, it was all put into reality today.

This afternoon I experienced a life’s first. Something that you always know you may have to do at some point. Something that no matter how much training you receive will never really prepare you completely. Today I had to perform CPR on a gentleman that had collapsed at a clients hotel golf course.

I had been at the hotel, helping out the team with a wedding showcase – a day that I was expecting to be filled completely with excitement and smiley faces. Unfortunately it didn’t necessarily start out that way. Before the showcase, word had got back to the hotel reception that someone required first aid on the 18th hole. Although I had done some first aid courses in the past, I hadn’t got a valid certificate – but said I would wander up that way to see if I could assist the hotel first aider. I didn’t know what I was about to walk in to.

Just off the course, there were a group of golfers huddled around a man on the floor. I could hear murmurs of “he’s not breathing” – this was more than a fall over in the ‘rough’. Before too long, there I was assisting the hotel first aider. Adrenaline kicks in. Training course notes go flooding through your mind. Then you’re there! In the thick of it. I have never seen someone looking ‘blue’ before. I had never been that close to someone who has just stopped breathing, and does not have a pulse.

Instinct tells you to keep going – whether you think it’s too late or not. And so we did. We continued. We kept going. We pumped. We reviewed. We pumped. We did not stop.

Being only a matter of 10 mile or so from the Air Ambulance base – it was a matter of minutes before that wonderful, powerful sound of the WNAA helicopter came from the skies. It was that moment I felt an enormous amount of pride. I helped in someway put that in the air. I helped them get to this man in the short amount of time from the 999 call. I helped give this man a fighting chance. I knew trained professionals would soon be there.

Soon, a mass of paramedics and doctors (2 from the aircraft!) were next to the man. They took over – CPR, Oxygen, Drips, Adrenaline injections, a Defib – all actioned seamlessly, calmly and yet so very quickly. The professionals got to work. They were not going to give up.

Now unfortunately if you were looking for a happy ending to this story, life doesn’t always go the way you would have liked. All the hard work and effort the fabulous medical team did, couldn’t bring this guy back to us. But at least we all gave it a bloody good shot.

Sitting at home now, it’s time to reflect. Could I have done better? Could I have done things differently? Possibly so. But was I there to help, support and give this guy a fighting chance – Yes. If two doctors, a paramedic, a defib and their years of medical experience can’t save someone, then I probably didn’t stand a chance to be honest.

Following on from my last blog about life skills, surely first aid is one that we all need to fight for to be added to the national curriculum. I’m not just talking about half a dozen lessons or so, like you get for Sex Ed. I’m talking proper, on going training, about things that can really make a difference to someone’s life. Yes it’s nice to be able to ask where the nearest library is in French; or to know the square root of 16; or to know who won at the battle of Waterloo – but surely knowing how to save a friend, a loved one or a stranger is a little more rewarding? Just a thought.

I will continue to support the wonderful WNAA charity and the outstanding work the team do. Will you? The charity gets no government funding and relies solely on donations to help it keep in the air. Take a look at their website for more info http://www.wnaa.co.uk/

Now ask yourself? Could you do without one less pint of beer this week? One packet of cigarettes less a month? Half a dozen less take-aways this year? You could – well why not make a pledge to this fantastic charity. I for one hope I will never have to take advantage of their service – but you just never know.

I live my life knowing I will make a difference to someone’s life at some point this year.
Thanks for reading guys. Live life to the full.


Independence

Since an early age, I have always been extremely independent, and proud of it. I suppose I have my parents to thank for the way I was brought up – and for the life skills they taught me from an early age, and also of course my attitude to want to continually learn new skills. I remember been shown the basics – how to iron my shirts, how to use household appliances, how to do jobs around the house – and I am grateful of that nowadays (even if I didn’t see the point of it when I was a teenager!). Also working in the hospitality trade most of my life, I learnt how to cook, and how to clean! From running a pub as a licensee – you soon learn to become a cleaner, a cooker, a manager, a cellar man, an accountant, an electrician, a sales person, an entertainer and a host. It gave me great confidence in life. It taught me skills of how to manage money (both as a business and as a person), how to speak to people and how to treat people.

I remember hearing on TV recently that a mother said (about her teenage son) – “All I want is for him to be able to leave the family home being able to do everything needed in life” – What a great attitude. I agree and believe that is what happened with me. But how many others leave home with the basic lifestyle skills? It frustrates me when I have met people who I have interviewed who have obviously never been told how to dress, how to speak, or how to prepare for interviews for example.

I know that Martin Lewis (Money Saving Expert) is fighting to get money management in to school curriculum. I’m all for it, along with a ‘Life-Skills’ lesson for many kids before they leave school.

I’m not saying I know everything I need to in life – but what I have learnt over the last 15-20 years has made me into the independent man I am today. I try not to rely on anyone – but know to ask for help when I need it, and am not frightened to do so.

So for all you parents out there, keep teaching your kids the vital life skills that will only help them in the future.