Shift 2 – Simply the best

 

Panorama of StadiumYou really do forget just how big the stadium really is, especially when you walk out onto the track again. But it’s hard to put it all into perspective when, once again, it was a morning shift and I was far from bright-eyed and bushy-tailed – these 4am starts and over two-hour drives were starting to take its toll…

Nevertheless, most of us had made it to check-in with time to spare (rather impressive for a Sunday morning) but the start of the transportation issues surfaced for a few unlucky team members. One of the women in our group may only live about 7 miles away from the stadium, but the joys of restricted tube services on Sundays meant that Tweet to Clare Baldingthe journey took 90 minutes instead. However, there was a silver lining to another commuter story and our trusty WhatsApp group played a role.

Another of our lovely ladies was stuck at Stratford International Tube Station and would miss the start of training before the session began. But the power of social media was amazing. Not only did she let us know so we could tell our Team Leaders, but she decided to also tweet Clare Balding whilst waiting: next thing you know, she’s being mentioned on Clare’s morning BBC 2 Radio show! Always good news when the volunteers are getting recognition!

You’d think that once you’d done a full session, you’d know exactly what to do for shift 2; how wrong were we all… The previous day had left us completely shattered and then, new starting block set-ups were being thrown at us. We would like to say that we took it all in our stride – in reality, most of us were stressing about putting the lane marker in the right place and wondering if our tired arms would be able to pick up the starting Cablingblocks without putting another part of our bodies out of alignment. And that’s before we even get to the cabling.

The cabling is Satan. It’s as simple as that. Trying to create a figure of 8 with cables that have kinks in them and are at least 10 metres long is difficult enough. But trying to do that as fast as the blocks coming back in and avoiding getting tangled up with the next lane’s cables is nigh on impossible. I’m a lefty as well, so for me, everything is backwards, so my brain is automatically screaming out at me saying I’m doing it wrong, but on the 100m start, there is one set of cables out of the 9 lanes where everyone else shares my pain!

What makes it even more confusing is that each race distance has a different way of clearing the track, and there are certain races that need different set-ups. For instance, the completely blind runners who have guides helping them round the track (T11) need to have the starting blocks alongside each other. Can you see the cogs turning in our brains?!

Starting Blocks TeamBut the training is doing us the world of good – the session was as smooth as we could have hoped for and we finally got to relax and enjoy some of the action up-close and personal. We got to witness the fastest Paralympian in the world, Ireland’s Jason Smyth, race in the heats of the 100m, watch Britain’s Aled Davies smash the Championship record in the F42 Discus and claim gold, and be a part of two different world records being obliterated. It was a magical morning for us volunteers.

Shift 2 selfieAnd it didn’t end there: we were all settling down after the session for our debrief and the feedback was incredible. The official timekeeping company for the Championships, Seiko, said that our team for the morning session were the best group of volunteers that they had seen in 30 years. We were simply the best. We are the dream team!

 

We’ve covered most of the bases by now – surely shift 3 would be a doddle?!

Shift 1 – The chaos has begun

Training Day

So I am one of the fortunate ones – I am a volunteer for the 2017 World Para-Athletics Championships in London (and I will never tire of saying that!) Just three weeks ago, I wasn’t even a part of the event, but there was no way on earth I was ever going to turn down this kind of opportunity.

Our training day just confirmed everything I wanted and more; a volunteer family for the 10-day event, I was going to fit in just fine! The second we all walked in to the lecture hall, the buzz of excitement was deafening with everyone chatting for the very first time – some of the stories I found out were incredible. Three of them had volunteered for the Olympics in London back in 2012, two others had flown out to Rio last year, and someone else had been volunteering for the last 20 years for everything from the Moonwalk to Athletics competitions. The only thing missing was a partridge and a pear tree!

Fast forward another week and it was time to pick up our uniform and accreditations – getting out of Westfield Shopping Centre was like trying to escape the Crystal Maze; no-one made it particularly clear that to get to the stadium, going up a floor was a necessity. So by the time any of us actually made it to the pop-up centre, we’d all been running Accreditationaround like blue-ass flies to ensure we didn’t miss our timeslot, and no-one had warned us of the photo opportunity on arrival. Mine was more like a mugshot. Not impressed in the slightest. And what’s worse – officials actually have to look at that monstrosity to let me in.

The uniform is great and Asics have covered all the bases – we have everything from tops (which are a luminous pink so that people in passing planes can see us) to waterproof jackets (that will come in useful, I don’t know if London can go 10 days without some form of rainfall!) to socks and trainers, all of which we can keep after the event. But as with all new trainers, breaking them in is vitally important, so mine have been making appearances in the office, despite the strict dress code. Not entirely sure bright aqua-coloured trainers fit in with the ‘smart casual’ theme…

So that’s the background, now comes the action!

Our first day was chaotic, incredible, mind-boggling and exciting, and that’s before any of the racing actually began! We have a great team of Lane Markers and Starting Blocks people, but I’m not at my best first thing in the morning; waking up at 4am to drive up from Southampton to get to the stadium for 8am is usually unacceptable for me, especially on a Saturday morning, but for this, I’ll make an exception to the rule. I did have to apologise to my team though for my less than sunny demeanour. I liken myself to Garfield in the mornings…

Starting blocks There’s so many different things to remember before and after each race, and manoeuvring the starting blocks can be a little tricky – turns out, they are a lot heavier than they look on TV – but we’re all hoping it gets a little easier as the shifts go on. On the plus side, our Team Leaders are great and are teaching us as much as possible to make it look seamless. They’ve done this countless many times and know exactly what the officials want us to do, so we are effectively sheep – we’ll follow them and go wherever we’re told for now!

The team dynamic is fantastic and everyone has some incredible stories to tell. I’m one of the babies of the group at 22, so my life experiences are a little mute compared to some of the seasoned veterans of volunteer work, but I can guarantee I’ll learn a ton just by being around these incredible people from around the country and further afield. But it’s one of those situations where even if you have never met them before, they are still willing to help.

Me and DeniseI am more than happy to admit my sense of direction is atrocious – I may have also mentioned that in my interview for this role which probably wasn’t my greatest move – so getting to the stadium and then the right bridge for check-in could have been problematic, but I found another person in a pink shirt and got chatting away. Turns out, she’s been working behind the scenes at the Olympic Park for the last three months and walked with me to where I needed to be, stopping off and showing me all the landmarks on the way. The generosity of the volunteers is incredible, and so far, I still have my bearings!

WhatsApp LogoWe’ve even set up a WhatsApp group for our team so we can share memories and photos throughout the event and stay in contact afterwards. So far there’s only about 8 of us in it, but I’m sure as the days go on, it will grow stronger, and so will the bond between us all. I’ve only met around 20-25 of us from shift one, but there are plenty of others to meet and grill them about their lives. After all, I’m a journalist and therefore a nosy bugger!

Can’t wait to get started for shift 2 now, roll on the morning!

Interviewing football legend, Matt le Tissier

12688111_10208535046795972_5932529789954733731_nI’m feeling like a very lucky girl at the moment. Third year at university and on course to get a very good honours degree in Sports Journalism, five different jobs, making a wealth of contacts and a family who couldn’t be prouder of me. But all of this was surpassed on Tuesday morning. I interviewed my childhood hero!

It seemed to be a stroke of luck more than anything else – working as a Press Officer for my local football club, AFC Totton, the interview just fell into my lap, and I somehow kept my cool… Until I got back in the car!

So here is the interview with Southampton legend, Matt le Tissier (all in one take, might I add!), talking about his academy’s new partnership with the football club. We’ve nearly reached 500 views in just 2 days, let’s keep it going!

 

 

Snipers Cheerleading Academy smash their first ever competition

Snipers full comp squad

The Senior Cheer team before going on stage

DESPITE being formed just seven months ago, Snipers Cheerleading Academy placed all seven of their routines in the top three at the Autumn Allstar competition in Eastbourne last weekend.

The squad, based in Hounsdown, topped the standings in four different categories, coming first in all three pairs dance routines, as well as in the highest level senior stunt team in the entire competition.

In addition to the first placed trophies, Snipers also came home with a 2nd and 3rd in the open and junior level 2 stunt teams respectively, but it was the Senior Cheer routine that was the most pleasing result of the weekend for the club.

This was the first and only chance for the full squad to show their potential before Nationals in March. With only one fall in the two and a half minute routine, the 18-man squad produced a stunning performance, taking 2nd out of eight teams, and just 0.75 away from category favourites, Vista Twisters in first.

Sam Youren - Head Coach

Sam works alongside a committee to run the club

Snipers Head Coach, Sam Youren, believes her squad have achieved everything and more from their goals they set for their first competition, but wants to push the team further for Nationals. “I am completely overwhelmed by the results this weekend.

“For a brand new squad, we have exceeded every other teams’ expectations of us, and even though we had brilliant results, there are still a lot of things we need to work on for March. Nationals will be a bigger competition and we can’t become complacent, just because of what we have already achieved.”

Dance Captain Eva Newton + pair routines winners

Dance Coach Eva Newton with Junior Pair winners, Amy and Chloe

It is not just the Head Coach who is looking to improve the squad. Dance Coach, Eva Newton, who choreographed the senior cheer routine, as well as the three winning pair routines, says: “There were some mistakes and need to work on tighter arm lines throughout the dance sections, but all the hard work paid off.

“Now we have competed for the first time, we now understand what the judges like and don’t like so I know what to work on for the next event, but our team is a family. I am so proud of them.”

And this is not the first time the club has been noticed in the local community. In September, Snipers Cheerleading were recognised in a national competition run by Miller Homes, and won a £500 grant to put towards new training facilities.

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Miller Homes came down to Hounsdown and got involved with the stunting!

They have all ages and abilities within the squad, as well as boys and girls, and welcome beginners and ex cheerleaders/gymnasts for training sessions. For more information about training times or queries on starting with the club, contact Sam on samyouren@yahoo.co.uk

Welcome to the life of a 3rd year University student…

I am happy to admit that being a third year sports journalism student is chaotic, frustrating, time-consuming and draining. But it is possibly the most rewarding thing I will ever do in my career. It will be setting me up for life!

So I thought it would be a good time to show you exactly what our university students do when they aren’t drinking to drown their sorrows! Here is only our 2nd ever fully live broadcast that went on air from Solent University.

Me and my team of five created the last package on celebrating 130 years of AFC Totton, a local football club who have had more then their share of ups and downs. Watch the video, feel free to share as much as you like and comment away!!

Stags bounce back in the New Forest derby

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AFC Totton started with the same line up as the defeat to Cinderford Town last Saturday.

AFC Totton’s comprehensive 4-0 win over local rivals, Bashley Town, have ensured the Stags’ rise up the table after three wins in the last four games despite an uncharacteristically slow performance.

It was a largely uneventful first half, with Totton having most of the possession but nothing to show for their efforts. However, Nathaniel Sherborne was to be a threat from the outset after the goalkeeper had to produce a one-handed save in just the second minute.

Sherborne’s determination paid off on 24 minutes, after his solo run from the half way line brought him to the penalty box and he effortlessly dispatched the ball past Bashley goalkeeper, Rob Gillett to give the stags the lead.

Both teams appeared lacklustre and low in confidence after defeats in their last matches, and it took 36 minutes for Bashley to trouble Totton’s resident goalkeeper, Steve Mowthorpe, who made a routine catch to maintain his clean sheet.

Chances were few and far between after half time until a lay off from Sherborne found Craig Feeney on the penalty spot, and he wpid-img_20150929_235742.jpg the ball into the bottom right corner to double their lead.

It was definitely not Totton’s best performance of the season, but were still managing to create goal-scoring opportunities, and on 71 minutes, Sherborne blasted the ball home from close range, leaving Gillett with no chance to prevent his second of the game.

Misplaced passes from both teams left the game feeling a little disjointed, especially in the second half, but substitutes Jake Rawkins, James Roden and Matthew Brewer, breathed new air into the Totton side.

Brewer, who made his debut on Saturday in the 3-0 defeat to Cinderford, nearly made it four goals to the home side, but for a sliding tackle.

But with five minutes remaining, Rawkins’ curling cross into the box found Mike Gosney who headed the ball into the top right corner and just out of reach of Gillett once more.

Totton will be grateful to leave the Testwood Stadium with the three points in the bag after a good result but an unconvincing performance. The win lifts them one place in the table to 17th, and Bashley rock bottom and in serious trouble already.

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Mike Gosney re-signed for Totton at the start of this season. Pictured with manager, Steve Hillock.

The Stags play Tiverton Town in the FA Trophy on Saturday, but Gosney believes that the squad will have to revise their strategy for the weekend: “We were okay in patches today but will have to improve a lot against Tiverton.

“Tiverton will be a big test for us, and we will have to up the tempo a lot more, but it would be great if we could get a result and go on a cup run.”

AFC Totton team: Mowthorpe, Hibberd, Diaper, Williams, Dempsey**, Simpson, Burgess*, Allen, Feeney***, Sherborne, Gosney.

Subs: Rawkins*, Roden**, Brewer***

Five goal thrashing from AFC Totton moves them out of relegation danger

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The Stags applauding the travelling away fans after the match

AFC Totton scored five goals on Saturday against a struggling Bridgwater side to win their first away game of the season, and take their first step away from relegation.

The Stags have conceded in the first 20 minutes in each of their last five games, but they had a dream start, when injury-free Mike Gosney was brought down in the box with just 13 seconds on the clock. Gosney got up to dispatch the penalty comfortably to give Totton an early lead.

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Gosney winning one of Totton’s countless corners against Bridgwater

The away side came close to doubling their lead in the first ten minutes, with Gosney’s strike hitting the woodwork and the rebound was headed just wide by Nathaniel Sherborne. But it wasn’t until the 23rd minute that Totton found the back of the net again.

A Bridgwater corner was clearly efficiently by the Stags’ defenders and created a strong counter-attack to find Craig Feeney running down the left wing. His solo effort flew straight past the Bridgwater goalkeeper and into the top right hand corner to boost the team’s confidence further.

The Hampshire side dominated the first 45 minutes, but the scoring wasn’t quite finished before the half time whistle was blown. Feeney showed his strength on the corner of the penalty box to go one-on-one with the goalkeeper again slid it past for a three goal advantage.

Totton goalkeeper, Steve Mowthorpe, didn’t have too much to do in the first half, but produced a brilliant one-handed save in the second half to keep a clean sheet for the first time this season.

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One of Totton’s headed chances going just wide.

Totton’s confidence was growing at the thought of winning back-to-back games in the league. After a string of corners, Jake Burgess found Jack Simpson’s head to guide the ball across the line, giving Simpson two goals in two games.

Bridgwater did have their opportunities despite being four goals down, especially when Mowthorpe brought down Bridgwater’s number 9 in the box, but Josh Wadham couldn’t convert, curling the shot round the post, adding to their dismal day.

Another corner resulted in the Stags’ final goal of the game. This time, Sherborne took the plaudits, heading the ball past the inconsolable goalkeeper and giving Totton their biggest away win since February 2011; once again, Sherborne scored in that game as well.

Steve-Hollick

Manager Steve Hollick believes his team had a slow start to the season but are now proving their worth

Totton manager, Steve Hollick, was overly pleased with the result, but is staying grounded: “It takes the pressure off a bit, but it could have been double figures. We missed some good chances on top of those we scored.

“We’re not getting carried away, but it was a good performance from us and there’s still plenty more to come from the boys.”

Cinderford Town are Totton’s next league opponents, and will provide a sterner test away from home once more, but the signs are showing that the Stags are on the rise, climbing to 17th in the table.

The daily struggles of a twenty-something

images2XE68VO1So our twenties are supposed to be the time in our lives where we get our shit together, find the job we’ve been working towards since we started school aged 4, find the man of our dreams and settle down. But truthfully, this is the decade where we drink until we hit the floor, weep over endless amounts of exams that none of us have revised for and generally screw ourselves up just in time for our thirties.

imagesHAKNWPEMThe relationship thing just seems to be a nightmare for everyone, no matter what age. Whether it’s going to town three nights a week to find ‘Mr Right’ or signing up for online dating, (because everyone you’ve met in town turns out to be a creep and you’ve given up) the wait to find the one is a bitch. There are so many stories of people finding their childhood sweethearts, and then there’s us; the people who are busier falling in love with Mr Grey (whips and paddles and fictional characters and all) than actually going out to find, in Pinocchio’s words, a real boy.

Then we start scrolling through Facebook, – a daily ritual – and spot another couple we went to school with who are now engaged and flaunting a very sparkly and flashy ring, making our egos shrink to the size of Yoda again. If everyone else can manage it, what are we doing untitled (18)wrong?! None of us were ever warned in school how difficult it is to find someone, let alone hold down a relationship without killing our partners, surely it’s time to add commitment struggles to the curriculum?

But on the days where no engagements are fully documented with soppy statuses and no end of generous well-wishers, we go downstairs to open the post only to find a wedding invitation tucked in between your latest bank statement and yet another phone book. It’s like we’re being mocked at every opportunity that we’re alone. This is the moment when we realise that Bridget Jones is no longer just fiction; it’s now our life.

The next thing our families expect in our twenties are kids. Endless amounts of kids. Every family party you go to, there’s always that one aunt who comes up to you at the buffet table with that knowing smile that her remark could go one of two ways. “Are you pregnant? You’re starting to show.” No, that would be from last night after eating half my body weight in ice-cream, knowing I was coming to this party. I shall name the food baby Ben. Or Jerry.

untitled (20)Of course we’re broody. Every friend we’ve had since the age of seven is pregnant or a housewife with two kids already. The amount of baby showers we’re expected to buy gifts for leaves us more broke than when we were 16 and jobless, but the second someone mentions the word baby, we’re like putty in their hands. The only joy of not yet being a parent is being able to act like the fun pretend aunt when babysitting but still have the option of giving them back.

untitled (21)Unfortunately, we don’t the same option of giving university modules a few attempts to get better results, even though it’s no secret how useful it would be. It’s obvious to tell which year we’re in by what we’re doing;

  • First year, we get stupidly drunk at least twice a week, turn up to more lectures hungover than sober and barely scrape through with the required 40%.
  • Second year, the social life still exists but we’ve had to cut our drinking sessions to once a week now we’re paying for the house and bills, and results actually count towards our degree so slightly more effort is put into revising for exams
  • Third year, no social life whatsoever, many alcoholic drinks just live in the fridge so we don’t have to leave the house, and our dissertations leave us confused as to whether we need to punch someone, have a hug or do six tequila shots without taking a breath.

imagesRIVEURO0 (2)And then to top it off, there’s the annual nightmare of sorting out student finance. Between trying to work out which tax year they are after this time round, and getting our parents to actually remember their memorable information before the Alzheimer’s sets in, we end up wanting to pull our hair out before we even start the new term. The best screw up with student finance though, is when the parents don’t follow the procedures properly and find themselves applying for their own student finance instead of enhancing ours. There’s nothing funnier or more bewildering than seeing your mum apply to do Sports Coaching at university when she struggles to make it up the stairs without losing her breath.

We’d rather be skiing down a black slope with a blindfold on and going backwards rather than the thought of holding down one job in our twenties, and yet we find ourselves with three part time jobs just to make ends meet after uni. This wasn’t how we planned it. Our plan at graduation was to meet a famous footballer in town that night, fall in love, never have the need to work and reach the ultimate goal of a closet of shoes. Instead, we spend our daytime attempting to catch up on sleep and creating a never-ending list of CVs, the evening are spent stacking shelves at the local supermarket, and the nights as a bartender at the local club. No, it wasn’t meant to be like this.

untitled (22)But the jobs are essential to pay for our shopping addictions and numerous first (and only) dates, it’s just a shame we now have to shop online because we no longer have the energy to make it into town. We can’t get away with wearing the same outfit you wore on the last date, despite being a completely different person. They might not know, but we would, and that’s just unacceptable. Starting to feel like a vicious circle, no?

And as if this wasn’t enough to deal with every day, then you also have the family to contend with on a daily basis. After all, we’re fed up of Dad’s sexist and no-so-funny jokes that he keeps bringing home from the lads at work, as well as his tendency to humiliate you out in public at every given opportunity. Then there’s mum; clearly the menopause has started and the HRT hasn’t completely kicked in yet. Obviously, it would explain the mile a minute mood swings and the memory loss, but does she have to take it out on us?

imagesJ17G8FGUThere’s nothing and no-one who is willing to warn us how rough our twenties are going to be, not least the people who have already survived this horrific decade – they want to see us suffer! Wouldn’t you just love to be four years old again, without a care in the world, and marrying a different boy each week with Haribo rings for your wedding? No bills or student loans to pay for, or going days on end without any sleep, just having sleepovers and chasing boys in the playground. But then again, you’re able to drink many many cocktails in your twenties; maybe it isn’t so bad after all…

10 things to give up for Lent!

So I’m fully aware this was a couple of months ago, but this was a fun article to write for my magazine production class. The thought was there, unfortunately the timing wasn’t!

So it’s that time of year again. 40 days that can be religious to some, or just a reason to kick-start your healthy lifestyle in the vain attempt it might last this time!​ It may be a bad habit you just can’t bring yourself to stop, or maybe it’s something you eat after a stressful day. Or a long day. Or any day! Either way, we know how difficult it can be to get yourself out of that rut and back on the right track, so here are a few ideas to get your teeth (quite literally!) stuck into.

untitled (13)Chocolate:

Okay, so we’re all guilty of the occasional small chocolate bar as part of a quick lunch, or the rare whole Terry’s chocolate orange to ourselves if we’re feeling a little emotional. But chocolate doesn’t always have to be the answer. Instead of being addicted to huge amounts of cocoa, try substituting that urge with an actual orange. Yes, it may not be the best substitute for the sugary goodness, but you never know, it might even become your new treat.

Crisps:

…Or to give them their full title, small slices of salty potatoes baked to perfection. The taste of some Thai Sweet Chilli Sensations can send you into an oriental whirl of happiness. Although, if you fancy trading these in for lent, replace them with a cereal bar if you’re running to your latest meeting to make it on time! It will fill you up just as much and could even give you more energy for that lecture you normally fall asleep in.

Smoking:

untitled (14)So this is one of the biggies to give up for Lent. It won’t be the easiest of journeys; get a friend to either quit with you, or give you moral support over the next 40 days. It will be so much easier to stop if you’ve got another person kicking you into shape! By giving up together, you’re four more times likely to quit for good. Maybe spend that extra money on that pair of shoes that have been staring at you for the last month – it could be those Louboutins you’ve been desperate to buy for a night out, or even the Nike trainers just waiting in the shop window, begging to be bought.

Cake:

We’re all allowed the odd slice of birthday cake, but when it turns into a slab of Battenberg every night for dessert, that’s when it becomes a problem! If you’ve got a case of the midnight munchies and reach into the cupboard for a chocolate cake bar, someone needs to stop you. Looking for something different for your taste buds to enjoy? Have a yoghurt and feed that need for something sweet.

untitled (15)Alcohol:

One too many jägerbombs in the week? Wine acting like the devil’s drink and leaving you with the mother of all hangovers? Surely by now, you’re fed up of hanging your head over the toilet, or even worse, holding someone else’s! Cut the alcohol and feel slightly more refreshed in the mornings. (But if you’re not a morning person in the first place, there’s not a lot we can do on that one!)

Social media:

99% of us are constantly glued to our phones, refreshing our twitter feed every two seconds. When we wake up, our first port of call is to find out the latest gossip about our favourite musician, or who the latest celebrity is to either be quarantined in a psychiatric ward or busted for drugs. It’s starting to become an obsession now… why not take a Twitter ban for lent? Most of the tweets are pictures of cats, or a ‘not so’ indirect status about someone – you won’t miss too much!

imagesMJVGWUNQSwearing:

Truthfully, it’s not the easiest to stop doing. But there has to be some sort of punishment system if you attempt this; invest in a swear jar, adding 50p every time you slip up. If you really want to push yourself, every swear word results in five push ups. Let’s see how often you swear after that, especially if someone else gets to see you suffer every time! To make it interesting, get people at work to set up a sweepstake; if you have to give something up, they should give up their money, no?!

TV:

Now we’re not suggesting throwing the TV out the window, but everyone has that one programme we love to hate. Maybe it’s Jeremy Kyle you find so compulsive and have it series-linked or endless re-runs of Top Gear on Dave. For the science geeks among us, it may be The Big Bang Theory (we all fit into this category secretly!) Delete the link and take that extra hour to catch up on that book you’ve been dying to finish off. One better, go out for a jog round the block – maybe test out those new Nike trainers if you’ve also quit smoking.

Soft drinks:

There’s nothing like having a glass of lemonade after a long morning at work to quench your thirst, but an ice-cold drink of water will have the same effect. May even give you that ‘pick-me-up’ to keep you going for the afternoon session. Water helps to improve your concentration throughout the day – might give you that extra energy to get on with that task you’ve been putting off for months.

imagesX1TAWZGOTime for a little exercise:

We can all be held accountable for driving round the corner to the shops, or taking the lift instead of the stairs. Some of us may even testify to getting our other halves to run upstairs and grab something for us in the bedroom whilst we’re sobbing on the sofa. But if you’re feeling the need for that extra push, sign up for 30 days at the local gym. Whether it’s a dip in the pool to give you that adrenaline rush, or a quick 10 minute jog on the treadmill, it’s time to get back into those dusty trainers!

The adventurous tales of Miss Martin

Becky with others in the scheme

Becky with others in the YFC scheme

Five weeks ago, Becky left our cosy office in Southampton to throw herself into a year-long project, teaching kids dance and perform as part of the Youth for Christ (YFC) scheme. Despite it being a completely new challenge, she’s settling in brilliantly.

Week 1 was a training week and meeting the other volunteers on the programme, but the real fun began in the second week up in Birmingham; being thrown in at the deep end, Becky had to contend with a temporary host home as well as the hefty timetable.

Luckily, her temporary move was made much easier by the woman she was staying with. She had been part of Stance (the street crew) for two years and calmed any nerves of the scheme and moving away.

Most days are spent learning choreography and creating workshop routines to teach later in the week or the year, and the evenings consist of the youth work. The kids are lovely (most are from the church, but there are some that are new) but nerves kicked in before the first Friday.

Normally, around 150 13-16 year olds turn up every week but Becky coped very well, proving she’s definitely in the right place. The church (Zion Christian Centre) has about 500 members so it can be chaos, but it’s worth every minute of it.

Now all settled into her proper host home for the next year, the lady she’s staying with goes to the church and knows the ins and outs (which is quite handy!) To make the deal even sweeter, the house is only a 30 minute walk away, so Becky’s getting plenty of exercise at the moment!

Fort Rocky

Fort Rocky – the training camp

Fort Rocky (a group specialising in youth weekends away) invited the street crew to Litchfield on 19th September and put them all through their paces. Becky and her team not only looked after the children, but the youth leaders too who would normally look after the young people. The most nerve-wrecking part of the trip was being asked to host a session and telling them her experiences with God. But after explaining her reasons for joining YFC and Stance to the young people, the response was incredible. Even one of the young leaders thanked her for her story.

Last Saturday was an early start for Becky, taking part in her first mission for Stance, and toured Reigate – near Gatwick – with Nomad (YFC’s other touring crew), a cage football team. Organising 50 children between the ages of 5 and 11 which was a challenge for her but she came through the other side.

Becky 2

Becky practicing the choreography

Teaching a dance workshop for 45 minutes and watching the kids improve must be one of the most rewarding parts of her gap year so far, and it is just a sign of things to come.

Even though all of us in the office are missing her, we’re proud of our girl. Keep it up Becky, and keep donating to get her to her £1500 target!