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.

Monday 27th June 2016

There is so much happening behind the scenes now that there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to complete my daily lists of Things to Do. (I can’t manage without lists and I’m often found wandering around with a clipboard when it’s this busy!!)

Today was so full of important things I didn’t even have time to swim! Imagine that! Sometimes you just have to prioritise though, and it just so happened to be the day my 11 year old grandson came to stay.  We went shopping at Meadowhall (amongst other things) and we had a blast.

The first thing to make sure I do tomorrow though: a one mile swim at 6.45am and another one at Noon.

Many of you will know that on Saturday I had a fab day at Leeds, with my dear friend Carol.  We had gone to see Merrill Osmond perform his Rock Show there, with a Meet and Greet before the show, which included meeting the lovely Darren Day too. He was kind enough to change into one of my  t-shirts (!), which he then signed for a later auction.

Carol and Merrill Leeds 2016  Linda and Darren Day at Leeds Me and Merrill Leeds 25 June 16

Luke Johnson

 

We also had the great pleasure of meeting the lovely Luke Johnson, with his Mum and his Grandma. Ten year old Luke is one of the deaf children benefiting from The Hearing Fund UK and I really do look forward to closely watching the progress he makes with his music. It was great to meet you Luke!

 

 

 

It won’t be long before Merrill returns to the UK for the special Hearing Fund Gala week.  I just mentioned to Justin today that it’s 33 days till I see him and his Dad next. This leaves 36 days to swim the 30 miles left for my Challenge.  (I had better get a move on!!) Fortunately each mile is carefully planned, so I am still on target for it to end on Tuesday 2nd August.

Tomorrow I plan to share a very special event which will be happening on Sunday 7th August. Everyone will be invited to come! It will be a lovely way to end The Hearing Fund Gala week once my swim has finished, so more news on this next time.

 

Friday 24th June 2016

Another bag pack… this time at Morrison’s Balby.  After a few hitches/disappointments, the day got much better as it progressed.  I am truly grateful to ALL who helped today, including my 11 year old grandson Josh 😀  June 24 amount

This means it’s time to aim higher again …. I’ve raised the target to £4,500. With one more Bag Pack to come, and a few sponsored swims, I am really hoping to reach this total by the end of July.

24 JUne percentage

I met some lovely people today, who were genuinely interested in my swim and The Hearing Fund UK.  I thank you for your interest, especially if the leaflet has led you to visit this blog for the first time.

I’m signing off for the night feeling very tired after being on my feet for 9 hours, but so grateful for the support of so many today. I honestly couldn’t have done this without you!  I can now look forward to a special day tomorrow with my dear friend Carol or ‘Friend Up North’ as she calls herself on her comments on here. 😉 We are off to Leeds to see the one and only Merrill Osmond perform, with a Meet and Greet and an Afternoon Tea thrown in for good measure! Bring it on!

Wednesday 22nd June 2016

OK, I know yesterday was worth remembering but today… oh boy! 🙂 🙂 I had been told that Merrill Osmond was going to call me this morning but before he was scheduled to ring, I HAD to swim my first mile of the week at an early morning swim.  I was beginning to get concerned about getting behind, and as the past two days have been incredibly busy, I had to prioritise and make sure that the pool was where I needed to be at 7am.

The swim was hard work.  Just taking a couple of days off can make a real difference to how able you feel to swim as far.  I must say that the task to swim is becoming harder.  It’s possibly because I am spending so many hours a day working on the fundraising too.  I only have 6 weeks left and I feel like I’m using every ounce of energy to make the most of this amazing opportunity. I am still really passionate about what I’m doing, and my body is trying to keep up with me haha  Anyway, I did complete 76 lengths… almost 1.25 miles.  My current total is 217.5 miles which leaves 32.5 left to swim.  I have 2.5 miles planned for tomorrow which will get me back on target again.

I had a busy day scheduled with organising poster drops, setting up a plan for the Bag Pack on Friday, contacting Doncaster Town Centre and Markets about the fundraising day, follow up emails and calls, visiting a 91 year old lady from Church and tonight giving a presentation at the Mansfield Ward with the lovely Wendy Gore, about setting goals. In between all of that was a lovely phone call from Merrill! He said so many special things.  It meant so much that in the middle of all my ‘busy’-ness, I could press Pause for a  while and enjoy connecting with the dear person that he is.  He has such a kind heart and I was touched he would take time out of his rehearsal to speak to me. Another very very special memory.  Thank you Merrill. xx