Having signed up to participate in RAB, back in February I attended a Q&A evening put on by Threshold Sports – who are the event organisers – at the offices of the Princes Trust. The evening is all about getting to know a bit more about what the 9 days involves, and as a result I took the advice of others who have taken part before and bought some myself a couple of pairs of high quality cycle shorts and some chamois cream. You certainly don’t want a numb bum!
And I also met one of the Princes Trust ambassadors – a young man now in his twenties called Aaron. And what an inspiring story, from such a difficult beginning.
In a calm and measured way, Aaron talked to our group about his upbringing that – through poor judgement and lack of choice – led to him being expelled from school and into a life of crime to raise money to fuel a drink and drug addiction. On leaving prison, a conversation with his grandmother bought it home to him that he needed to find an alternative way to live his life. And he turned to the Princes Trust for help.
But it didn’t start very well, when the troubles he was battling meant he missed the first session with the Trust. It would have been easy to give up on Aaron at that stage, but his mentor rang him and told him there was “just one last chance”.
And Aaron took it. He attended the next session and started down a path to turn his life around. His love of football led to him getting a job with Crystal Palace football community programme as a coach, teaching youngsters the life skills they can learn themselves through sport. And through the counselling and support at the Princes Trust he was able to tackle the drink and drug addiction with clean living.
But there were obstacles along the way. Aaron got sent back to prison – for a crime that predated the time when he started receiving support – and so the Princes Trust continued to work with him when he was released as Aaron by now knew he did not want to go back on his new lifestyle.
Fast forward to the present and Aaron has been drink and drug free for over a year. He has progressed in his job, and has a loving and supportive girlfriend. What’s not to like!
His talk to us that February evening was certainly a brave thing to do. To admit your personal failings and to recognise that it is only when you take responsibility for your own mistakes that others can start to help you to help yourself. And that is what the Princes Trust does.
And that is why I signed up, later that evening, to fundraise for the Princes Trust. In the knowledge that it is possible to help others like Aaron.
My Ride Across Britain has now found its purpose.