For a long time I have dreamed of the time when I would be free to take the time to paddle the full length of the Saskatchewan River and hike the South Boundary Trail from Jasper to Banff. Both of these trips entail true wilderness travel something that I have always enjoyed. However, now that I have reached the point in my life when I have the time to fulfill my dream, the reality is that a 73 year old probably shouldn't attempt either of the two trips alone and it is almost impossible to find someone who would like to share the experience. So what to do? Two other possibilities came to mind. I have always loved the Devon and Cornwall coast and the SW Coast Path seemed like a good alternative to the South Boundary Trail. And if you want to travel the full, navigable length of a river, why not the Thames? Two definite possibilities if I could only convince Jenny, my wife. Then Gillian started Hazel's Heroes and I saw my opportunity. I could satisfy my sense of adventure and at the same time help to raise money for Hazel's retreat for grieving parents. So I suggested a fundraising adventure to Jenny and, to my surprise, she agreed. Perhaps because it would mean that I was out of her hair for 2 1/2 months!
Once I had made the decision to make the trip to England I realized that it was more than for fundraising. This would be my outdoor adventure to share with Hazel. My connection to the places I would be visiting started to stir and it was clear this was to be a family affair. When I was growing up in Camberley, Surrey my grandmother would often rent a car and driver and take us to Reading where we would take a trip on the Thames on one of the tour boats. I remember those trips well and how much I enjoyed them. On my way down the river I will pass by Pangbourne where there is a beautiful bluebell wood and the place where my father's ashes were spread. I also used to visit my grandparents and my aunt and uncle in Paignton, Devon. We spent many holidays there playing on the beach, sailing toy boats on the pond at Goodrington Sands, going out in a rowing boat with my grandfather and searching through the tidal pools for the many creatures trapped until the next high tide. Many years later I did my teacher training at St. Luke's College in Exeter and at the first college dance of my second year I met Jenny, my wife. For our two final years at college, me in Exeter and Jenny in Exmouth, we travelled all over Devon and Cornwall exploring and walking along sections of the cliff paths. So, in a way, my paddling and hiking will introduce Hazel to my family. Not to mention I can have lunch in a pub and stay in a bed and breakfast any time I feel the need. It seems to me this is one, big "Win, Win!"
I'm a grandfather who lost an infant granddaughter and who wants to help Gillian, her mother, provide support for other grieving parents through Hazel's Heroes.