Thursday, 22 March 2012

Loving life as a torchbearer, fame and so much more. And it can only get better.

Form an orderly queue for autographs please!
Only joking, I'll be modest, but I must say I've been blown away by the past 2 weeks. Basking in the 'fame'.

Well, firstly I was invited to the BBC studios in Manchester to be interviewed by the one and only BBC NW tonight presenter for the BBC School Report. At first I was told it was a radio interview, but then I realised I would be sat on the BBC NW tonight sofa, in front of a camera with thousands of people watching me. Oh jolly good, I thought. I went with my school, as 10 pupils in lower years also took part in the school report. I was awestruck by the BBC studios, what an amazing place. Got a tour of BBC Sport. We were treated like royalty despite what must have been a chaotic day for them. It was a 5.30am start, got there for 7.30 ish. I was dreading it, you see, I've suffered with a speech problem for most of my life, making me very nervous at speaking but generally with crap 'people skills'. As we were led into the studio and I met Roger (nice bloke) I was shaking with nerves. But fascinated by how the programme was organised. Met Matthew, a pleasant young torchbearer from Bury who was being interviewed at the same time as me. He was only 12, and I'm 6"3 so I towered over him. It was all very frantic, then there was a countdown, until 3.. 2...1 You're on air. Sadly the interview was delayed and therefore very rushed and brief so I couldn't mention my Mont Blanc project at all and barely answered the other questions in detail, but I was nervous too. Still, very pleased I did it. Hit your fears head on!
Then I met ex-footballer and Strictly Come Dancing star Robbie Savage and approached him before he got dragged off by the ear for an interview. I told him what I was doing and asked if he'd be willing to donate something to my charity auction for my charity night (which has now been booked for the 29th June by the way, more details to follow). He was rushed too but I left my number and email with him, he sort of nodded.... let's hope I get something from him. Got a picture with him too which I'll post here when the BBC decide to email it to me. I was then shown briefly on BBC Northwest Tonight on that evening!

You can view the interview here, if you scroll to 1:12 on the slider. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17392092

And here's a pic of me on the sofa with Roger:

But that week could only get better. The day after, I got an email from BBC Radio Merseyside asking to interview me about the honour of carrying the Olympic torch. So I eagerly emailed back and the nerves hit me again, but I can do this, I thought. On the same day, I got my official Olympic Torchbearer confirmation AT LAST! I'll definitely be running with the torch in Chester, on the 29th May in the evening sometime. The exact location and time is yet to be confirmed. I was absolutely buzzing by the end of that week.

On Tuesday, I received an email saying that Coca-Cola are going to purchase all of the Coca-Cola torchbearers an Olympic Torch. Brilliant news. Saved me £200 anyway. This means I'll definitely get to keep my torch afterwards, use it at public events (including my charity fundraising night) and I've already been asked to go to my local primary school and Brownies group to talk to them about the torch, and let them hold the real one. It shall be treasured. We've also been given the chance to buy official torchbearer merchandise that only we can buy!

This morning I was met by a BBC reporter and interviewed at school for the Tony Snell Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Merseyside. I wasn't as nervous knowing that I wouldn't have to see my ugly mug on a TV screen but still, I was determined to mention a lot more this time. The interview went pretty well I'd say, I mentioned Mont Blanc and the 3 Peaks as well as obviously describing what it's like to be a torchbearer. Really enjoyed the experience, definitely better than Geography anyway... Now I've realised that I forgot to mention a few bits like Kilimanjaro or this blog but ah well, can never be perfect. Wasn't sure how it sounded but was kindly reassured that it was great. So at 7:25am tomorrow, I will be hearing the edited interview. Look forward nervously to hearing it. Hope it sounds okay. It's on iPlayer if you miss it.

Going to a torchbearer photoshoot on Monday, so even more fame to come! And the Chester Chronicle are keen to profile me again, along with the torchbearer I've discovered that lives down my road! What's the chances of that?! 8000 torchbearers, 2 on one road... Will get some pics of myself with the torch and styling the new outfit for the blog.

Loving the fame so far, it's been crazy, I've been rushed off my feet. I'm going to struggle a bit for the next few months, with A-levels, Mont Blanc, the torch, running, races, work/general chores... but I wouldn't have it any other way. It will all pay off in the end, even if 12am-1am bedtimes are necessary. Progress is slow at the moment, lots of letters to go out. SO MUCH work to do.

But if I can keep living my dream, inspiring others, influencing people to go for their goals, enjoying myself and raising money for amazing charities then I'm happy. So much more to come, maybe some more records to be broken. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. What an awesome year this will unfold to be.

Oh and my charity night has been booked for the 29th June, more to follow.

I've now nearly got to the £300 mark on my Virgin Money Giving page, which is great. I want to thank the following people for their generous sponsorship so far, Steve Richards, Rob Tudor, Chris Spray, celebrity rock climber Ben Heason, Andrew Bell, Chris Pownell and Jayne Cooper for their kind contributions, I really appreciate them. Unfortunately the radio interview didn't bring any more in but ah well. Still pleased. Not even a 10th of the way there yet though, so keep it coming please folks! :-) 

....Keep tuned!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Overdue a blog post, I'm on TV tomorrow!

Taking part in the BBC School Report tomorrow, off to the BBC studio in Manchester for the day. Been invited to go along and be interviewed about what it's like to be a torchbearer etc. It was organised by the school. I believe I'll be live on camera at some point between 9-10am tomorrow and I think you can view it by 'pressing red' on BBC or on the iPlayer online.
Very anxious! I've suffered a speech problem since I've been young due to epilepsy, which I've not let affect my schoolwork or my ambitions/goals. It's an obstacle I'll overcome- and the best way is to hit the fear head on by technically talking in front of thousands! Will post the link in a blog tomorrow. Will try and mention my Mt Blanc project tomorrow and get a link to my fundraising page, hopefully it'll pick up some interest andonations. Will make good practice for the Summer, as I've been asked to speak to my local primary school kids about the 3 Peaks and the Olympic torch, my local Brownies pack (in Tarporley) and when I run my charity night in June I'll need to make a speech! Oh, and I've been shortlisted to go to London on a torchbearer photoshoot on the 21st or 26th March. Still TBC!

That reminds me- we are looking at running our charity night party in Kelsall on the 29th June but still TBC. Originally we planned the 6th July (the one year anniversary of my 3 Peaks conincidentally) but this was unavailable. More info to follow, it's going to be a great night! Contacting some airlines for flight donations this week, the Kelsall Parish council, KADRAS, supermarkets for bag collections. And a lot more, when I get round to it that is. Progress is very slow. I've been involved with a charity called Epilepsy Action, my fellow torchbearer friend Katie works for this charity and I've sent an article written about my journey with the illness- to try and inspire other sufferers that they too can acheive their goals and that there's nothing stopping them from experiencing life. Go for it! Hopefully that article will be on the website soon so you can read it and find out more about me you didn't already know. Busy busy busy! Oh, and I got a Tweet (@alex_staniforth) yesterday saying that a man's 12 year old son had read my article on Live for Adventure and I'd inspired him to do the 3 Peaks! I'm humbled! Being able to live my own dreams is rewarding enough but to inspire others is amazing, who knows what the future will have in store for him like it did for me. Best of luck to him. Another guy has messaged me for 3 Peaks advice which I've happily given.

Lastly, I'll finish my article by going off subject and mentioning what happened last weekend! Hard to stick to one subject on one blog! More running I'm afraid. Ran the Age UK Tatton Park 10k on Sunday, at 10am, been looking forward to it for ages. Finished 2nd/530! Was 14 seconds behind the winner, couldn't quite catch him, pushing myself to the max. It was quite a weak field of runners hence my success. Best of all I smashed my PB- 37:34!! Knocked 3 mins off since a month ago. So chuffed. Was a close race, but so much excitement, the guy in 3rd chased me all the way. I threw up as I passed the line, showing how hard I ran (hope you're not eating...). Somehow I ran at 6:10 min/mile pace, I can't even run 5k at that... anyway. Awesome race, great weather, nice ground, scenery, well organised, great atmosphere. So surprised. Well done to everyone who took part! I'll be back next year. Wish I'd gone for the win, I might have been able to do it. But not far off anyway. Not sure if my race #2 was an omen or pot luck! Obviously relevant to Mt Blanc- as I'll need a very high cardiovascular fitness level, which is building all the time! There's some pics for you to see below, hope you like them. Building my fitness further by entering 5 races in April alone. Will let you know how I do.

 Last 200metres of pain
Prize giving on the podium