#49 Sir Christopher Ball
Without Sir Christopher Ball we would never have started our 10in10 marathon event and raised over £1million for our charity. And yet he’s thanking us for being a ‘haven of kindness and good sense’.
Brathay, for me, has been in turn a challenge, an inspiration, and a haven. I was invited to be a Governor in the 1980s, which was a challenging time and responsibility to hold. But, as I learned about its ideas and courses, I was inspired by the commitment to working with young people through the medium of Outdoor Education.
I remember a conference we held there on the topic of the value of OD, at which I had the privilege of speaking in the presence of Prince Charles and talking with him at lunch. I tried to persuade him to enjoy the fells in the afternoon and offered to take him to a place where he could paint the view. He was tempted for a moment, but said 'Duty calls - I must visit a sewage works before tea.'
My reward as a past Chair of Governors was to be given an Honorary Fellowship, which I greatly prize. My wife and I are keen walkers (Pennine Way, Coast to Coast - twice, etc.) and enjoy the fells (Lord's Rake and Foul Crag included!).
We often took our children on holiday to the Lakes. We have from time to time visited and stayed at Brathay and love the place. It is haven of kindness and good sense.
After the turn of the century, Brathay's Fellows were invited to suggest ideas for fund-raising to support its splendid work with young people. I had recently graduated from marathon walks (south coast to Scotland) to distance running, and had run my first London Marathon - without coming last! I was interested in the concept of back-to back marathons, completed on consecutive days, and had run the Thames path from the source to Tower Bridge, as a training exercise, in a week: a length equal to seven marathons.
My wife wondered if I could do ten in ten days… I brought the idea to Brathay as a possible fund-raiser. The rest is history.
I am told that the 10-in-10ers have now raised over a £million. We shall celebrate its twentieth year in 2027. (I shall walk a 10k!)
But the value of Brathay lies in its work with young people, challenging and inspiring them to make their lives worthwhile, to themselves and to others. Long may it continue to fulfil its inspirational mission.
Best wishes to all my friends at Brathay.Christopher