The summer and autumn of 2020 saw some amazing fund raising efforts to replace the donations that SARA usually
relies on from public collections and events – all of which have been cancelled due to… well you know why. As a crew member from Sharpness lifeboat station, one of these appeals was particularly close to home, which was the urgently needed refurbishment of the Old Dock House. This has proudly borne the SARA emblem since 1986, and houses several front line assets, the ops room, kit rooms and crew amenities, as well as being a part of the local industrial heritage.
The station stands on Sharpness point, with a line of sight down to the Severn crossing and up to Purton, an ideal place to co-ordinate search and rescue taskings. However, these views are often obscured by the sometimes tempestuous weather that comes up the channel and the lifeboat station bears the full brunt of these squalls, as well as spray from the giant waves that can overtop pier walls when rough weather coincides with the infamous “big” tides. So maybe not that surprising that the building has been in urgent need of some refurb, including replacement of the exterior wooden framed windows.
Sharpness collectively took the challenge to raise funds needed and I was inspired by some incredible challenges, like the “docks to docks” walk undertaken in full kit by my fellow crew, as well as those by other stations, including the 130 km inter-station trek.
So after these “marathon” efforts,I decided to do a marathon of my own, literally! The original plan was to do the distance from our neighbouring station in Beachley, as a sort of link up with the other long distance challenges, but that quickly went out of the window with Lockdown 2 when the national borders were closed to all but essential journeys, then I had challenges at home with school bubbles closures, and then life under the changing Tiers.
But then as my local area dropped a Tier, the opportunity came, to at least partly fulfil my challenge with a run from my home in Bristol, along the tidal Avon and past Avonmouth to at least get in sight of the Severn, even if the intended route to Sharpness would not be possible due to crossing the border in Tier 3 (at that time) S. Gloucs.
In the end the day was 21st Dec, the shortest day of the year and even the slim hours of daylight were reduced by the
rain and clouds! Starting just before 7am, I was near the Avonmouth flyover by what would have been dawn, and pretty wet already.
Although not the most inspiring route along the industrial roads past Avonmouth docks, I was well pleased to finally get a good look at the Severn right on the S. Gloucs border, also conveniently exactly 21.1 km through and so half way. The water-logged slog continued along partially flooded paths in the drizzle
and I was delighted to finally make it home, not just for the chance to get warm and dry, but also to find that my fund raising target had been soundly beaten.
Not exactly an enjoyable run, but certainly a challenge I’m glad I finished – with massive thanks for the support and generous sponsorship from everyone who chipped in!