raising a million part one – eating elephants – the lone nut

good morning,

hands up if you wanna read about how a mad dream of an idea culminated in a father daughter team raising over a million pounds for their mental health charity?

if you actually raised your hand, i salute you for your service.

so, back when we had to wear face masks and our planet had the zoomies, circa 2021, i was bored.

i had returned from nepal in 2017 having successfully summited mount everest, which, before the welsh surveyor and geographer george everest had established this mighty mountain to be the highest in world, and had it renamed after him, had been known as ‘peak 15’.

funny how the number 15 keeps turning up.

since my return i’d had the obligatory come down from any great adventure at high intensity, puns intended, and dissolved back into ’normal’ life.

i endured the reset that lockdown forced upon us, and bigmoose was doing some amazing work behind the scenes, with our first therapist graeme layzell working with people that were struggling with their mental health, and graeme had turned at least five people back from wanting to kill themselves, absolutely mind blowing.

so back to 2021, i was getting very itchy feet, i needed to travel, i needed to climb again.

i started to plan, and look at possible 8000m peaks i could attempt, k2, cho oyu, budget and risk played their part in my decision making process, but i was in planning mode, which turned the adrenaline fountain on, and i was extremely thirsty to drink from it.

then it happened.

the life changing moment.

my mentor, darren hardy, posted a video talking in very simplistic terms about how “every day, we are all writing our eulogies”

simple, but for me so flipping powerful.

did i want my eulogy to list another mountain climbed, or another life saved?

in literally seconds my life changed.

i knew the formula, it was simple, bigmoose was becoming a beacon for people in distress, so we had a need, and we had a team of therapists at our disposal, human givens institute have a network of over 300.

we just needed money to pay the therapists.

the year before we had fundraised £27,000, which as an unpaid team of two during a tough time wasn’t too bad.

but we needed more.

we needed to be bold,

we needed to dream big, and if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.

there and then i thought we needed to go big enough to get the wow.

wow, you’ll never do it, or wow that’s crazy i wanna help, but always wow.

worst case scenario we fail, best case, we achieve something incredible, and help thousands of people along the way, not tens, not hundreds, but thousands.

it was a really simple decision, we just needed to remove the fear of failure, and be brave enough to shout from the rooftops ‘we are going to raise £1 million pounds for mental health.’

in my head it seemed so simple, but as a life long dreamer i always need to sense check things first.

i text chloe.

“i have an idea”

she loves that message.

the last time i text ‘i had an idea’ we ended up opening a coffee shop.

which is now number one coffee shop on trip advisor in cardiff, i’m very proud to say.

i pitched my idea, what had we got to lose, face, credibility?

what if we succeeded?

the positives were endless.

she was in.

2022 project £1 million, raise a million pounds, with no staff, just enthusiasm and belief by the spade load.

i broke it down, whenever i have a big project i use the example of how do you eat an elephant? one bite at a time.

if you’re not familiar with this expression, it basically alludes to the fact that if you have an elephant to eat, the size of the challenge can be overwhelming, but if you just focus on one bite at a time, eventually you get the job done.

apologies for the graphic nature of this example.

i calculated that one million pounds was only 100 ten thousands, we therefore only needed 100 businesses or brave individuals to fundraise £10,000.

chloe had fundraised £15,000 when she was 15 (there’s that number again) for barnardos, when she climbed kilimanjaro, and i knew undoubtedly that if anybody fully committed to raising £10,000 we could help them achieve this mammoth task.

so, where to find these 100 rockstars.

13th september 2021 “morning dude, i’m heading into cardiff this morning if you’re about?” came the message from dan wood, a great friend and genuinely wholesome human, who i love.

i had told nobody about my parkinsons at this time, and every social interaction was a challenge, will they spot signs, will i shake noticeably, will my facial masking make it look like i was uninterested, hiding this disease was fraught with challenges.

me: i don’t wanna go, don’t make me!

also me: i need to go, if i don’t it’s over, parkinsons wins.

“see you at 10.15 danno”

we chatted about life, running, our families, and bigmoose.

“what are you up to with bigmoose?” dan asked.

“well” and i proceeded to tell him our plan, this being the first person i had told, and my nerves were jangling.

i spoke of the 100 ten thousands, and dan listened intently as i told him how we had saved five people from suicide, and needed to do more.

i told him the full plan, and as i finished, he sat silently, and then said he needed to go to the toilet.

i sat on my own wondering if i had told the story well enough, and checked my phone.

i had a message from hannah phillips, a girl that was seeing graeme our therapist, and she wrote of how without his help she wouldn’t be here, and as a mum of three girls, it numbed me to think of what distress she must have been in to have contemplated this action.

i think dan could see i was visibly shaken as he returned to our table, and he sat down.

“you ok?”

“yes, i’ve just received this.”

i covered hannah’s name, and showed him the message.

we sat in silence.

“what do you want me to do?” dan asked.

“i don’t know, what would you like to do?” i responded, unsure of what to ask for.

another silence.

“i’m going to raise £10,000 for bigmoose.” he calmly informed me, and i felt tears of emotion well up inside me.

“let’s do this!”  he exclaimed as we hugged, and my mind was exploding with joy, “we’re going to do this” i thought, and as i left the coffee shop i skipped along, almost floating, as i played what had just happened through in my mind, I needed a positive start and this was it.

i messaged chloe, and shared the euphoria, and also shared my story with hannah, who sent me through this amazing video, which is so symbolic, and always makes me smile.

we had started a movement, and now needed another 99 more.

thank you dan, thank you hannah.

part two next week.

blue skies,


Other articles