Let me tell you a little (ok – a LOT) about my background and “where I am now.”
Having left school at 16 I had to take a couple of government schemes to get by in an era of youth unrest and high unemployment rates.
Having spent a year on the dole after a second government employment scheme I landed a dream (by the standards of youth) job down the coalmine. This was the best time of my life. I finally had the money to do what I wanted and grasped my new found prosperity with both hands.
I bought my first decent camera and became a freelance photographer for a local newspaper. I was photographing Sunday League football, presentations, flower shows, leek shows, fetes etc. I was being offered drinks and getting straight in to venues. With this came an almost celebrity status amongst my peers as I was getting noticed more and more.
(this is all relevant to “where I am now”)
I also found the time to start cycling again and bought my first decent mountain bike – the scene was very new and the equipment quite basic.
With my camera in tow I started photographing mountain bike races and thought it looked quite fun but I was sure I was nowhere near fit enough to do one. Over the next year I trained hard and entered my first mountain bike race the following (cold) spring. It was freezing, muddy, wet, and I was knackered – I WAS HOOKED !
Miner, Mountain Bike Racer, Photographer – I was living the dream.
Then redundancy was offered at the coalmine and I took it early before 1500 other men were looking for jobs too. After a brief time on the dole again I secured a job in a small factory with a small team of employees and office staff.
This was to be the longest employment of my life so far.
During the 14 and a half years I was there I had moved from humble machine operator to Research and Development member on the engineering side. And between that stretch I also headed a number of operations that grew larger with time.
I was held in high regard by managers, sales people and peers alike. I knew my job well and took a great interest in the products we made.
I also bought a house, found a girl and started a family in those 14 and a half years !
THEN, once again, redundancy was offered and I thought I would see what else was out there.
Having spent 2 weeks in an electrical wiring factory and 2 months in a call centre I landed a job in a warehouse. It was a bit of low point and when I started I thought OMG. The people who worked there – it was like a remand centre for very bad people!! I stuck it out and told myself it would only be for 6 months at the most until I found a job more fitting to my talents.
Four and a half years later I finally left. It had been interesting to say the least. I had become, as before, a revered member of the team. I was multi-talented and could run a team of 30, work all the computer systems, trained in nearly every aspect of the warehouse and trusted and held in high regard by the team leaders and managers. I took an interest in the way the warehouse worked and the products we distributed. The craic was great, the people were funny and the work was hard.
Working 4on 4off 12 hour days it was a tough shift – walking between 15 – 20 mile a day through the aisles. Then on my 4 days off I would be running and cycling for miles. I had never been fitter OR slimmer.
It had also toughened me up a little. Despite making the unlikeliest alliances with people I never would have imagined to make friends with and getting on with the hardest looking men (and women) you could ever see there were still differences between people that had to be resolved face to face without intervention from others. I learned to stand my ground, voice my opinions and argue my point !
There is relevance to all this I promise.
The problem with the warehouse was low pay – and it was about to move elsewhere – we were working on borrowed time. So I got another job and left. Briefly, I hated this job and lasted 6 months. The next job was a stressful health hazard with chemical impregnated dust floating around all day. I lasted 18 month there.
AND NOW TO THE PRESENT DAY
I was offered a job in a manufacturing warehouse at a local factory and thought “Finally this is my time to slow down and start taking it a little easier – just sitting on the fork lift unloading and loading vehicles.”
HOW WRONG COULD I BE !
This is the most physically demanding job I have ever had. Stressful, hard, heavy fast. On top of this I also bought a house that needed fixing up (more than had been expected).
My body is drained my head is full to exploding with things to think about. I was diagnosed with depression and had to have a couple weeks off.
I decided to face my manager in a face to face man to man meeting instead of just phoning in sick. I thought it would be better to do it this way.
As it happens he didn’t believe me and went straight into the warehouse to ask if I had been looking for another job !
Obviously when I found this out I wasn’t very happy and my opinion of this man just nosedived.
Unfortunately a few weeks later I had a nasty accident on my mountain bike involving some dogs. Due to staff shortages I put nearly a week of agonising work in (with no light duties) before I finally couldn’t stand the pain any longer. I needed to completely rest (something VERY difficult for me) so I had to put another 4 days sick leave in. Despite the obviousness of my injuries and the difficulty I had walking the supervisor thought I was pulling a fast one and suggested I was just working on the house.
On top of this, after a year of working there, I was given my 12 month review where they said basically they didn’t like my attitude or my personality !! They didn’t like the way I spoke to people (like men speak to men) they thought | was argumentative – to which I replied I thought I was actually more opinionated, headstrong and forthright. Apparently they don’t like opinionated, headstrong and forthright people (only sheep).
THE WAY FORWARD
Sponsorship deals to help me take a year from work and focus on my life and my future.
And so we are here – today
My head is a mess and my body is drained. I’m not sure how much longer I can go on the way I am going. I feel like a blundering old fool and find it difficult to keep up with younger co-workers.
I feel as if I can no longer make it in a modern manufacturing environment and need to change my whole life.
I need a year out of my life to gather myself and be a man again and proud of my work and achievements. To try new things without the fear of failure and financial ruin. To take control rather than hanging on to the back of a runaway rollercoaster.
I have a plan to do this.
I like to cycle but don’t get out as much as I used to and should do due to work and other commitments. I also like to run a lot but again can’t do as much as I used to and would like to do.
Large companies sponsor large teams of sportsmen for vast amounts of money.
I am just an ordinary man
I need £26,000 to live 1 year cycling and running, finding myself again and becoming a stronger person both mentally and physically.
I aim to raise funds through sponsorship deals with various companies by selling space on my clothing for their branding.
For 15p per square mm of space for 12 months the company can be seen on my cycle/running/walking clothing wherever I go.
On top of this I will be blogging about my experiences and progression on a regular basis including photos and videos – with the sponsor logos on my clothing.
The possibilities for PR are quite unique too. SPONSORING AN ORDINARY MAN to help him find his way again.
I hate the TV junkies whose sole ambition is to be on TV as often as possible to satisfy their own arrogance and vanity but if it was to help my situation then any TV PR would be deplorable but necessary to further my cause.
I want to be like Forrest Gump – just go on and on and on and on