Follow Tim's STAMWALK from John O’Groats to Land’s End, starting 27th July. BSA Chair Tim Fell is walking the length of Britain to raise awareness around stammering, and is posting blogs on this page. You are still welcome to get involved in the walk, or donate.
14th July 2017
Stamwalk minus 14 days – and now I just want to get on with it. I feel a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Excitement at the prospect of meeting, and talking to, so many interesting people, and trepidation at what I’m going to be putting my body through.
I also feel the burden of expectation, self-imposed I might add. From the very beginning my aim was to raise awareness about stammering so it’s important that we make as big an impact as possible. I’ve always said that, if what we do as a charity has no impact, if we make no difference, if we can’t see change as a result of our actions, we might as well all go home. So, I’m going to take every single opportunity to talk about stammering, and to take awareness to the next level.
That’s not to say that no-one else is engaged in raising awareness. Far from it. The last few years has seen a surge in conversations about stammering – the formation of stammering networks in the workplace, plays and films about stammering, individual blogs and vlogs, art exhibitions, radio and television interviews, the work in schools for children who stammer….. an unstoppable momentum is building. And the BSA is making a major contribution to this effort.
But, we know there’s still a lot to be done.
In a way, I see Stamwalk as a metaphor for the journey towards our vision of a society where every person who stammers has as much chance of a full and rewarding life as anyone else. It might seem a challenging prospect, but if we take it step by step we’ll get there in the end.
If you would like to support me it would be brilliant! You can do that by joining me for a mile or three, or you can sponsor me at www.justgiving.com/stamwalk. All money donated will help fund the BSA helpline and information services.
And of course, if you’re not already a member of the BSA, please register for free on the BSA website today. Your membership really will make change happen by adding weight and influence to our voice. Many thanks.
26 June 2017
Just over three weeks to go before I set off from John O’Groats, and the size of the task ahead has finally kicked in. Yes, I’ve put the training miles in and I feel pretty fit. But doubts start to creep in. Like, will my knees last the distance? What if it rains for weeks on end? Will I be able to find a bed every night?
One of my main early concerns was blisters. But, in fact, I haven’t had one since I first took to the road way back at the beginning of the year. Mind you, I did try out a lot of different boots before plumping for Merrel’s Moab Ventilators. They’re brilliant. No need to wear them in – just slip them on and 20 miles a day is yours! I’ve already been through one pair, though, and the second pair won’t last much longer. I think it’s the tarmac that takes its toll, and I might need three more pairs to complete the distance. As for socks, the Long Distance Walking Association (yes, there is one) suggested I wear two pairs, one thick and one thin. I’ve ditched that, though, and gone for just one thin pair.
My mobile is an essential bit of kit. I use it for calling, texting, navigating, entertainment, photos, tweeting, calculating, etc. Trouble is, all this activity drains the battery in a few hours so I bought a battery pack which, when fully booted, will charge an iPhone six times. It’s made by Anker and I got it from Amazon for about £15. I charge it up overnight and it keeps my phone going all day. I bought an app for £20 per year called Outdoors Great Britain which gives you all the OS maps in the country. I’ll use it for micro-planning the route each day. My route broadly follows the Google map walking option between the towns I’m walking through. The OS app take up a lot of memory so I’m having to delete all but the essential apps on my phone.
I’m having to think hard about what to carry with me. I’m travelling light, with essentials only. I’m banking on being able to wash my socks every night, with a spare pair for the next day. I’ll send new pairs of boots to strategic points on the route. Waterproof kit and a change of clothes for the evening are the things that’ll take up most room in my pack. Water bottle, sun cream, pain killers (?) – what else could a man want?
I’ll be posting regular updates here, and you can follow me on Twitter @bsafell.
If you’re not a member of the BSA already please join now - it's free! By registering as a member on the BSA website you’ll be adding weight to our voice. Why is that important? When we talk to Government about issues like speech therapy provision, or when we talk to funders about giving us money, they need to be sure that we’re representative of the community that we’re serving. At the moment there are about 1600 members of the BSA out of a total number of people who stammer in the UK of about 700,000 plus family and speech therapists. So you can see why it’s so important that the stammering community gets behind us and shows its support for what we’re doing.
30th May 2017
You can follow Tim's training progress on his Twitter feed; with heartening updates, scary updates or those betraying questionable taste in pop combos! :-)
JOGTLE or LETJOG?
9th May 2017
When I first decided to walk the length of Britain to raise awareness of all the issues around stammering I had to choose which way to do it – John O’Groats to Land’s End….. or Land’s End to John O’Groats.
In the end, I plumped for John O’Groats to Land’s End. Here’s why.
When I start on the 27th July the temperature in the South West could be 25 degrees or more during the day, which would make for pretty uncomfortable walking. The north of Scotland is likely to be much cooler. By the time I get down to Cornwall at the end of September autumn will be knocking on the door. And, of course, there’ll be less traffic on the narrow roads at that time.
Apparently, cyclists choose the other way around to have the prevailing wind behind them. But I don’t think that’s as much of a factor for walkers. Walking into the sun every day might be more wearing, but then I’ll have my sunglasses. Talking about the sun, I’ll need a hat now that I’m becoming more follicly challenged.
The stretch from John O’Groats to Inverness and on to Perth could be quite a slog. I’m not taking the scenic route, so the A99 and A9 will become very familiar to me for the first two weeks. But I’d rather get my head down and do it at the beginning of the walk rather than face it at the end. What better way to break up the long days than to stop and talk to people about stammering along the way…
One disadvantage of starting in the north in July is the midges. Now, I love Scotland, and I’ve spend many happy times fishing in its beautiful lochs and rivers over the years. So I know to go prepared with a midge net to put over my head to stop them driving me crazy. It’s not the most debonair of clothing accessories so, with luck, there’ll be a stiff easterly blowing in off the North Sea to keep them at bay.
But, perhaps, the most compelling reason for setting out from John O’Groats is that it’s downhill all the way.
Stamwalk is on!
4th April 2017
There’s been a fantastic response to our call for support for Stamwalk. As a result, Norbert and I made the decision on Monday to go for it. The number of you who have responded has shown that we have the core of support necessary. But that’s only the start. To make the impact we want we need as many of you as possible to get involved.
Just to remind you, I’m going to walk from John O’Groats to Land’s End, meeting and talking to people about stammering all along the way. Start date is 27th July. Dates and timings of the entire route are already on the Stamwalk page.
As some of you know I’m very keen that we should talk about stammering. Talking openly about our stammer is something that many people who stammer find incredibly helpful. And talking about stammering to our friends, our colleagues, and the general public is essential if we want them to understand what it’s all about.
There’s been a lot of brilliant talking about stammering lately - ESN, DSN, radio and television interviews and documentaries, conferences and seminars. It’s an exciting time for people who stammer, and you get the feeling that a momentum for change is building. Now it’s time to walk the talk.
Walking the talk from John O’Groats to Land’s End is a visible demonstration that people who stammer live and work throughout the country, with no boundaries of background, profession, race, religion or politics. It’s an opportunity for us to learn from and to help each other, to inspire each other, and to reinforce the fact that stammering is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s an opportunity to promote the benefits of speech therapy and to celebrate the amazing people who work in that profession. And it’s an opportunity to turn around the public’s negative reactions towards stammering that persist today into an appreciation of the wealth of talent that people who stammer have to offer.
Stamwalk is also about the BSA, and how it can do the best for people who stammer. As BSA Chair, I’m very happy to take the lead. But we need lots more help. The success of Stamwalk will be measured by how many people we can involve and include. So please get in touch if you can support us. You can support by walking with me for as long or short a distance as you want. You can support by arranging an event on the night I’m in town, remembering to invite the local newspaper reporter along. You can support by spreading the word on social media. And if you have a spare bed in the house I will gladly, and gratefully, sink into it.
Stamwalk is also an opportunity to raise funds for the BSA. All money raised will go towards funding the activities of the BSA and will not be used to cover the costs of the walk itself. You can donate at www.justgiving.com/stamwalk or donate by texting STAM53 £5/£10 (delete as appropriate) to 70070. So if you wanted to donate £5 you need to text STAM53 £5 to 70070. You can't donate more than £10 through Textgiving.