Saturday 13th August 2016

Balloon release photoSo…. after getting changed from the swim, it was time to go outside for the balloon release. These were kindly sponsored by DCLT and were to represent one for every mile I had swum over the past year. I am excited to say that we have one balloon found already…. near Grimsby! This might mean that if the wind direction has taken them east, then a lot of them may have ended up in the sea!  However, the tags say that the competition to find them goes on till 31st October so we shall see.

After we had let the balloons go, it was then time to enjoy a Reception in the main room upstairs at the Leisure Centre. It was a lovely opportunity for those invited to chat to the Osmonds, and have photos taken. It was especially nice to recognise those who had offered great support throughout my Challenge, namely Carl Lewis from DCLT who simply could not have done more to support my efforts, for which I am extremely grateful.

A special mention was given to Kayleigh from Tesco Extra and Carolyn from Asda who coordinated the bag packs there. Unfortunately Martine from Morrisons was unable to come at the last minute, but their contribution was also recognised. Then we had Shirl from Thorntons who had donated over 1,000 chocolates for the Hearing Fund Gala, including samples for the Reception. Amazing. My Slimming World Consultant Sue Denton was there, as was the lovely Bobbie Roberts , Head of Trustees from the Deaf School. Special friends who have supported me in a huge way were also included on the guest list.  Finally I could not have missed an opportunity to recognise my lovely husband Paul, and my family, who have each been a tower of strength to me. I really could not have done this without them.

A special thank you to everyone who turned up to make it such an unforgettable occasion.  I am extremely grateful to Merrill, Justin and Kristi Osmond for coming, and for Justin being such a great sport in wanting to swim with me. What an honour! (Thanks to the lovely Tracey for organising their schedule to allow them to be there too!)

The Osmonds came to Armthorpe…. how incredible is that?!  😀

Dreams really can come true.

So what happens next?? As I finished my swim I had a strong impression that this is not the end, but a beginning of something else. Many people have encouraged me to keep writing this Blog once my Challenge ends. I have loved writing. I really do intend to follow it up with a book, because there are lots of things I would have liked to have shared but were unable to for various reasons. For now, the Blog continues. I still need to share the events following the Final Mile day so there is still more to come  ……

 

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Thursday 11th August 2016

Do you know what my problem is? So much happened last week that I’m almost afraid to try and put it into words in case I can’t find the right things to say that will come close to conveying how incredible it all really was.  I have been quiet on here for a whole week, thinking I needed a bit of time to digest it all. The thing is, I still don’t feel much nearer to knowing where to begin! If I leave it much longer, you might even wonder if everything went OK.  (Please believe me, everything went wayyyy more than OK!! 😀 😀 )

Anyway, putting this off so I can tell the story more perfectly only makes another day pass by, so here I am, keyboard at the ready.

I wrote on here last Wednesday about how exciting it was to be waiting in the Reception area of Armthorpe Leisure Centre for everyone to arrive.  What I didn’t mention was something that made me feel very emotional. A very very dear friend handed me a card. As I opened it I realised there was a lot of money inside.  My questioning but delighted look indicated I was wondering how much she had given me and she pointed to something she had written inside the card. It said ‘I saved £1 for every mile you swam!’  Imagine that! £250 on my final day which took my fundraising to £7,000!! You can understand why I hugged her and cried. I simply couldn’t thank her enough. How could I possibly fail in my efforts to fundraise as much as I can, when I have had such incredible support like this. Even over a week later, it makes me emotional to think she did that.

The current total to date is over £7,500, and with money still to come in, it is very likely I will reach the £8,000 mark by the time I’m finished.  If anyone would like to help me make sure of this, and you would still like to make a donation, my current Just Giving page is at https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/linda-carlo Thank you. And a special thank you again to my lovely friend who made my Final Mile day even more memorable because of her wonderful kindness and generosity.

So, back to where I left off. The Osmonds had arrived. Hugs all round. Time to swim my final mile.  Actually is wasn’t a full mile. It was 1000m or 40 lengths.  I had decided that people wouldn’t want to wait around for me to complete a full final mile so I swam extra lengths the day before. My dear friend Carol (also known on here as ‘Friend up North’), who has been my best friend since our Osmonds for Newcastle days, was in charge of the count down flipchart numbers. We decided it would help people up in the viewing gallery see how many lengths I had left.  It also helped me to know how far I had to go.

I was vaguely aware that I was being recorded ‘Live’ on my Facebook page, and it seems that there were many friends and family who couldn’t be there, who watched online as it was happening. The wonders of technology!

As I got into the water, I have been asked several times how I was feeling at this point. I expected to be nervous as there were many people there to come and see me finish this, iFinal mile water shotncluding Merrill, Justin and Kristi Osmond, as well as the reporters from Calendar News and local radio and press. My family and friends were there and my grandchildren were too. This was a big deal. Yet strangely I had the calmest, happiest feeling come over me. My dream was now a reality. I needed to enjoy my swim and believe me, I did.  There were a few moments during the 40 lengths where I caught myself getting anxious when I could see TV camera men crouching down on the poolside to get a good shot, or Press photographers positioning themselves to take pictures at different stages of my swimming stroke.  I was very conscious of Justin swimming Final mile swimming with Justinalongside me but slightly behind. I think if I had had him swimming in constant view, I would have not been so calm! But he had told me that he would stop before I came to the end, so I could finish the final laps on my own. (His family had done this for his 250th mile when he was completing his run, and felt it very important to do that).  As I set off for my last two lengths I could hear the noise from the poolside getting louder, and as I turned at the deep end to swim my final length, I had a strong impression that this is what heaven must be like. Those we love are Final mile Being cheered oncheering us on, encouraging us to do our best, wanting us to complete the race. I was overwhelmed by the love and encouragement and the noise as I finally completed 250 miles. My dream had come true. The deaf children would benefit from all of this and at that very moment in time, this is all that really mattered.

Tomorrow I will return to share what happened next. 🙂

 

Monday 1st August 2016

Well, here we are. The final day before the end of the 250 mile Challenge.  I know I have said this before, but I have such mixed emotions about tomorrow. My body is desperate for a rest, but my head and heart just don’t want it to end.

I apologise in advance if I cry. Not only have I experienced support and love on a level I could never have imagined, I am so touched by the amount of effort others have gone to, to help this dream of mine become a reality. I set out wanting to help these deaf children have a better life experience. That still is my ultimate purpose.

The more that people have responded to my crazy enthusiasm, the more it has driven me to keep going and to try harder, and to keep swimming. It has taken me exactly 12 months. 52 weeks. 250 miles. Doncaster to Edinburgh.

Tomorrow I swim my final few lengths. I will share the end of this with my hero, Justin Osmond; the man who inspired me in the first place, to believe this was possible. To have Merrill there too just means more than I can express. Whatever would my 15 year old me have said, as I screamed as loud as the best of them during that first Earls Court concert back in 1975?! Never would I have ever thought that it would come to this.

Tomorrow will be a special day. A truly happy day. There are family and friends travelling miles to share this with me. I love these people. For some reason they believe in me. How blessed am I?

Time to get some sleep now …. tomorrow is going to be one to remember. God bless.

 

Saturday 30th July 2016

Well this is a first! I have found a way to write a little something from my iPad in our hotel room. I just wanted to say what a nice journey we had coming here to Glasgow this afternoon. We picked up the lovely Leigh Cowell  on the way so that made the travelling time much more pleasant.😄

One very special moment was just as we went past Gretna Green when I realised how close we were to the turn off to Ecclefechan. It was a very quick and spontaneous decision, but I felt we simply couldn’t drive past this quiet little Scottish village without stopping to pay respects to my Mum’s  grave there; she was born there and always wanted to be laid to rest there. (It will be almost midnight when we go past again on the way home, so it was now, or another time when we would take a trip to Scotland.) It was a very quick but very easy decision to make. We only had time to stop for a few minutes but I’m so glad we did. On the bottom if her family gravestone, we had engraved ‘Families are Forever’ and I truly believe I will be with her and my Dad again one day. My parents taught me to believe anything is possible and because of that, among many other important things, my life has been extremely full of great and special things, and I’ll be forever grateful for who they were, and still are to me.

Tonight we enjoyed a lovely Scottish evening with Merrill and friends, with delicious food and great music from the one and only Merrill Osmond. Justin and Kristi joined us towards the end of the evening, which for me personally meant so much. A highlight for me was when Justin signed as his Dad sang Impossible Dream. Very emotional for me personally. It sounds like Justin is looking forward to my final mile on Tuesday …. almost as much as I am haha ! A special thank you to all who put so much work into making tonight such a great success. A very special evening to remember.

Thursday 7th July 2016

Feeling tiredness on a new level today, but it’s my own fault!  I just need to remember to eat properly. Oh and get to bed before 1:00am … ha!  (Too much to do, and not enough hours in the day!)

I had a lovely email from Justin Osmond again this afternoon … hello dear friend! (I have told him he mustn’t miss today’s post because of some special things I’m about to share.)

Armthorpe Parish councilThe day began yesterday with a special swimming session at Armthorpe Leisure Centre, with some members of Armthorpe Parish Council, led by the awesome Carl Hughes. We had the pool to ourselves and oh, it felt great to swim with these lovely local people. Many swam further than they have ever done before and I was so impressed by that. One or two even stayed to do an hour’s aquafit with Sam  afterwards, and I really don’t know how they had the energy!  Well done ladies… and Carl! 😀  The amount raised, with a very kind donation from the Parish Council, and from friends and family of those who took part, plus contributions from the local keep fit group, came to an amazing £206!!!   Incredible!  Thank you SO much for all you did everyone. I hope you can pop down when the Challenge comes to an end on Tues 2nd August.  It was so nice to meet you all. x

Owen McGarry.jpgThis brings me nicely on to another mile swim which took place at the pool yesterday afternoon.  As I had already arranged to look after my five grandchildren for a few hours, I was unable to be there. However, I am thrilled to tell you that a lovely 8 year old Armthorpe boy, by the name of Owen McGarry, swam a complete mile to support my swimming challenge.  What an absolute star!! Not only that, he has raised a fantastic amount of sponsorship ….. £110 !!!  You are awesome Owen and I am working on a special way to say thank you to you personally 🙂 I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to see you yesterday but I will make it up to you. Well done!!

Gail

 

The fundraising really is reaching far beyond my expectations.  I must also mention the lovely Gail who took part in the Slimming World mile swim last Friday.  She handed me £216 worth of sponsorship for her swim tonight!!! Considering she had never swum a mile before, I think this is wonderful!  I am really overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of people, who simply want to support the deaf children who benefit from The Hearing Fund UK, and also aim for such high personal challenges in trying to swim further than they ever have been able to before.  It is an absolute honour to know you Gail (and to be your swimming teacher too!) 🙂

 

 

Justin Osmond

So Justin, can you see why I needed to you to read this?  Aren’t these people just so inspirational??? 🙂 xx

 

Finally, an update on the fundraising and distance….. so close now. Only 26  days left….

Money raised 7 July  Distance 7 July 16

Monday 13th June 2016

Tesco logoHave you ever said Yes to something and wondered afterwards how on earth you can do it? Haha, that is so me at the moment!  Especially today.  I called the lady who organises the fundraising at Tesco Extra in Balby, Doncaster to ask if I could still do a Bag Pack there for the Hearing Fund.  She remembered me because of my 250 mile Swimming Challenge. Well, after a little discussion about where they could possibly fit me in, I now have two dates …. one of them is THIS FRIDAY!!!  I felt in somewhat of a daze when I put the phone down, thinking how can I find 20+ people to help in such a short time.  However, that familiar calm feeling came over me that helped me to know this was exactly the right thing to have said yes to, and that some how, some way, this will all come together as it is meant to.  I am so very grateful to Kayleigh at Tesco Extra.  The funds raised from this opportunity will make a massive difference to the deaf children and their families.  I am now in the process of  making lots of calls to people I know who might be able to help.  If you read this and feel like you can spare a couple of hours on Friday, please get in touch. My email is lindacarlo@outlook.com  THANK YOU!

Blog visits 13 June

An exciting statistic I discovered today is that Visits to this Blog have just gone over the 3,800 mark!! The Visitor number shows how many different people have looked at these pages.  I am in awe of how many folks around the world would be interested in something that has come from an unknown swimming teacher living in a small village in Doncaster, wanting to swim 250 miles for something she feels passionate about 🙂  Please keep sharing my link though, because the more we raise the profile of the Hearing Fund UK, the better it is for the deaf children who will benefit. I would love to reach the 4,000 Views mark by the end of June if that’s possible, so please feel free to share the link if you would like to help me do this. If anyone knows of any group pages on Facebook who might be interested, please share on there too. Thanks everyone.

Support is coming from all across the world. Today, my lovely friend Carole, who is on holiday in Gran Canaria, got talking to a lady over there who is also on holiday.  When she heard about my swim, she made a really generous donation on my Just Giving page.  How amazing is that?!  It also happened last night at a Church meeting, where a friend handed me £10 from another friend who wanted to help. Over and over again, I am being given donations to the Hearing Fund from people I don’t even know and that really does amaze me and means so much. Thank you to EVERYONE who is supporting these efforts to raise as much money as possible.

It is such an exciting time.  I have just 50 days left before my final mile swim with Justin Osmond at Armthorpe Leisure Centre. Now that I have raised the target to £3,500, it looks like this:

13 June Fundraising total

And my distance completed so far looks like this:

13 June

As the Challenge enters the last few miles (even though 39 miles is still a way to go …. it’s the same distance as Doncaster to Nottingham!), if you would like to make a donation to The Hearing Fund UK, I would be very grateful. Thank you.

https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/linda-carlo

Tuesday 17th May 2016

Just when I think it surely can’t get any better, it does!!

I finally met a lady from the Doncaster Deaf School this afternoon who I have been trying to meet for the past month.  I won’t give any details away at this point, only to say that her support and encouragement is going to make a MASSIVE difference to the amount my 250 mile swim will raise and I can’t wait to introduce you to her (if she will allow me to!)!! I wish I could share the highlights of my hour long visit with her, but I can’t yet.  I find it frustrating to not be able to share what’s in the pipeline, but all really will be revealed as soon as is possible. It’s very exciting!

Today I can say I have swum through the England/Scotland border, and it made me smile. I have just passed the 192 mile mark. I guess at some point I was half in England and half in Scotland and to those who don’t know, I’m actually half English, half Scottish 🙂  My Dad was a Geordie born in Newcastle, England, and my Mum was born, and grew up in, Scotland. Funny, eh?!  Wherever my parents are in heaven right now, I can sense they somehow know what I’m doing, and however I miss their direct response to all of this, it’s OK. I do miss them though. It was 27 years yesterday since my Dad passed on, and my Mum died almost 7 years ago.  Still, their great influence lives on.

Also today, I came home from the Deaf School visit to find another encouraging email from Justin Osmond …. my inspiration! He is such a good man and I love how positive he always is.  Thank you again Justin.

Finally, all I can say is….. It surely can’t get any better than this……. can it??? 🙂