Ashley the Jedi Knight

Two weeks today as normal people get the ferry to Bestival, the summer’s last big festival, on the Isle of Wight, I’ll be dipping my toes into the Solent, wondering why I ever thought it was a good idea to swim there. 

September 8 will also be an important date for Ashley Hyde’s family.

Ashley, 7, was a happy young boy whose love of Star Wars and big smile made him a great character to cover when we ran his story in Chat magazine when I worked there.

On June 9, 2008 Ashley was diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroblastoma. Ashley battled through months of treatment, endless rounds of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, a complex operation and endless procedures.

Throughout Ashley’s gruelling battle with cancer, the Hyde family kept his spirits up, doing lots of fun things with him like training as a Jedi Knight.

‘May the Force be with you,’ Ashley’s parents would reassure their little Jedi Knight. And it seemed it was. In July 2009, Ashley was in remission. 

Ashley described himself as a young Padawan Jedi in training for battle. But sadly the battle was just too big for such a little warrior.

After just six months, in December 2009, Ashley relapsed. Ashley’s family and friends constantly fundraised to send him abroad for treatments not available here. But the disease was too advanced and too aggressive, and despite all the treatments they tried, on September 8, last year, Ashley finally lost his last battle.

Ashley had touched hundreds of people with his unique personality, staying in touch with many schoolfriends with Skype, whatever gruelling treatments he was having. And hundreds of people, including four Star Wars storm troopers turned out to pay their respects to him last September.

Ashley’s family continue to honour him by fundraising in his name to help other children in his situation. Neuroblastoma takes more children in the UK than any other cancer. It can be treatable, and as I write this, there’s many urgent appeals. Families Against Neuroblastoma help families like Ashley’s get urgent treatment. Often abroad and often expensive, and campaign for all the treatments to be available for everyone here too.

FAN is run by ordinary parents, like Ashley’s, who have gone to extraordinary lengths to help these kids. I’ve always been touched by their enthusiasm.

One year on,  this September 8, as Ashley’s family remember him, I’ll be thinking of him too as I set off on my fundraising ferry-dodging swim across the Solent.

Ashley, may the force be with you!

And if you’d like to help Families Against Neuroblastoma battle our most deadly childhood cancer, please take a minute to sponsor this swim: http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN

Thanks,

Ben x

all going swimmingly…

Just over two weeks to go and do I feel ready to swim the Solent?

Well … I’ve sprung a leak in my gimpsuit – I mean wetsuit – and had to send it back… So I might now have to actually invest in some goosefat if it doesn’t return in time. (Wonder if that will actually keep me warm or just make me taste better for sharks?) As a vegetarian, is olive oil a passable alternative to goose fat?

I’ve swum 4k (need to get up to 6K) at the lido and it took two and a half hours- far too long. Though I did learn a valuable lesson: Swimming in a less than tepid lido after eating an extra-hot vindaloo-strength prawn curry the night before isn’t the best idea. Not unless you want to wind-surf. Every 20 or so lengths I had to run to the toilet. (If my swimsuit gets fixed in time for my swim2bestival, and I’m zipped into it I wonder what am I meant to do if I need a toilet half way across? Hold onto a boat and hastily peel myself out?) I’ve got a stinking cold from swimming in freezing lidos, snot’s pouring onto the keyboard as I type.

I’m being overtaken by pensioners in the fastlane in the swimming pool. And every other swimmer’s offered me conflicting advice about how I should be swimming. Longer strokes. Shorter strokes. Elbows higher. Hands lower. Hands to the side. Don’t kick your legs- just use them for balance. Kick your legs 6 times per stroke. Everybody suddenly seems to know a lot more about swimming than me.

Solent / isle of Wight

Had a practice swim in Selsey, Sussex last weekend, and it was rather wavy to say the least. The Isle of Wight looks a lot further away from here, and it certainly seemed so, as every time I looked at it I got a mouthful of salty wave, and a faceful of seaweed. It was like swimming through a stormy cup of miso soup. Gone cold.

As if having to wear a wetsuit isn’t bad enough, I’ve been told to wear a swimcap. For visibility. My own – to see through my shaggy hair. And other boats/windsurfers etc who might mistake me for the sea as I splash about ineffectually.

charity swim to isle of wight

that's stray seaweed around my neck

They won’t be able to miss me now with my banana-coloured ill-fitting head condom.

So just over two weeks to go and I guess I feel as ready as ever. Which is a lot less ready than I hoped I’d feel by now!!!

Re: fundraising: I’m 2/3 of the way there- so thank you very much everyone who’s kindly sponsored me and suppported me thus far! And anyone that hasn’t yet please click on:

http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN

-It takes just a minute & will help FAN save children with Britain’s most dangerous childhood cancer- Neuroblastoma.

Yours swimmingly,

Slightlylessfatboyswims x

jellyfish soup

I was the only person swimming at the lido early this grey morning.

Unsurprising, as by this point in the summer holidays, it’s got the same water content as a urinal. And it was so cold, I’ve only just been able to coax my testicles back down again with the promise of a hot bath, with radox and everything.

And I doubt my balls would ever be decending again if they read all the headlines about the ‘Jellyfish Soup’ forming around the British coastline due to clement conditions for these unedifying floaty invertebrates.

Reading about all the stingy ones washing up on our shores, I can’t help but wonder if I’m allergic.

What if I get anaphlaptic shock on my charity swim to the Isle of Wight in three weeks’ time? ( http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN )

I don’t know about you, but I’ve often wondered about how I’d best like to die.

I’ve come to the dramatic. But I’d also quite like it to be in bed. In fact I’d like it to be both. At the same time… Something pervy and dangerous… Or a sinister bedroom murder…

Any of those would do. But certainly not at sea. And definitely not as some sort of anaphlaptic reaction – a death I can barely spell. And not after being inadvertently stung by a sort of bloated floating transparent slug.

Big jellyfish doing impression of Don King

So now this blog has an added element of suspense about whether I’ll swim all the way without some sort of mishap, feel free to cut and paste any bits for an obituary. Though please not the bit above about how I’d like to die. Not unless I really do manage to swim across the Solent and then actuallly do die in some sexy/sinister bedroom mishap.

And here’s a cut out and keep jellyfish guide issued by the Marine Conservation Society who are all very excited about the unprecedented proliferation of Jellyfish swarms around our shores:

don't really want to end up wearing any of these as a hat

And in the spirit of educating you lot about our wobbly friends, here’s some

AMAZING JELLYFISH FACTS:

Bastard jellyfish can still sting when they’re dead.

If I get stung by a jellyfish, it’s helpful to wee on me.

Jellyfish reproduce both sexually and asexually in one of nature’s most romantic celebrations of life. There’s daddy jellyfish and mummy jellyfish. When daddy’s sperm are ready, he gobs them from his mouth into the surrounding sea, where they swim into mummy jellyfish’s mouth and fertilize her eggs. The fertilized ‘planula’ are then abandoned over the sea bottom, where these unloved little blighters latch onto anything solid in their miserable lives, splitting asexually until there’s enough for a swarm.

In some parts, Jellyfish are a tasty snack. But do dry them first, as they go off quickly!

The box jellyfish kills more people than any other marine animal. If stung your chance of making it back to shore or surviving are virtually 0%. These great big bastards can move at 2 metres a second and have 64 arseholes.

The largest jellyfish ever found was a Lion’s Mane Jellyfish with tentacles 120ft long, making it the longest animal ever found.

Jellyfish are brainless. They’re not fish. They’re about 98% water. Like spongebobs they are almost plants, but not quite, as they have to eat stuff which makes them an animal. Or something like that. I don’t really care enough.

Just three weeks to go before I swim to the Isle of Wight, and if you don’t want me to bore you with any more jellyfish facts, please sponsor me & help Families Against Neuroblastoma help some brave young children battling this cancer right now:

http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN

Love,

Ben.

SWIMSTAKES!

These are some of the most popular search terms that have brought people to this blog this week, according to wordpress:

‘swimwear’

‘most dangerous shark in the world’

‘boys swimwear pics’

‘triathlon guys’

– I can only speculate about which of these searches faced the most disappointment.

As none of the search terms included ‘The Ben Gelblum Swim2Bestival office (or home) swimstakes ™’ , I had better remedy that with this easy-to-cut-out Ben Gelblum Swim2Bestival office (or home) swimstakes ™.

Just cut out these options and you can have a sweepstakes gamble type thing with your colleagues/friends/family about my athletic & fundraising prowess or watery demise in the Swim2Bestival on September 8:

SWIMSTAKES!

And if you’ve got time to do that, you’ve DEFINITELY got time to click on this:

http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN 

and sponsor my once-in-a-lifetime athletic endeavour and help lots of children in urgent need of cancer treatment.

Do it today! It’s Neuroblastoma Awareness Week, so please spread the word!

Yours swimmingly,

or not really swimmingly today as I’ve got a sniffly nose,

Ben x

PS: sponsor me now: http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN

NB awareness week

Quick reminder of why I’ve committed myself to this marine madness:- http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN

(-Yes, apart from clearly having some sort of mid-life crisis involving leaving a proper job to squeeze into rubber suits and go to the seaside.)

This week is International Neuroblastoma Awareness Week, organised by the most single-minded mum I’ve ever come across.

Linza, 35, set up Families Against Neuroblastoma after enduring the most painful loss.
Linza described her son Max as a very handsome, cheeky, loving little boy. At just 5 months old, Linza’s son Max was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. No one in the UK could help, so his family launched an appeal to raise the sums needed to take him to America. Max held on. But by the time they’d raised the funds necessary, Max was declared unfit to fly, and just hours later, as if he knew, he quietly slipped away in his family’s arms.

It is Linza’s reaction to her loss that’s so amazing. Setting up FAN (Families Against Neuroblastoma), she vowed to do her utmost every day to fight to give children like Max a chance to survive, and many have been saved.

Linza has got all kinds of charities all over the world involved to set up INTERNATIONAL NEUROBLASTOMA AWARENESS WEEK this week (find out more & ‘like’ : www.facebook.com/NBawarenessweek )

Linza and familes all over the world fighting to get treatment for children like Max are doing all kinds of interesting stuff this week.

Including this Kindness Voucher, based on an idea by an American boy Braeden Burgess who sadly lost a two-year fight with Neuroblastoma. So print it out, perform an act of kindness and help raise awareness of the charities that step in and help familes let down by postcode lotteries in health provision. There’s some urgent appeals on. In this country alone, about 100 children a year will need help to fight the UK’s most deadly childhood cancer.

For all these children, it’s a race against time.

And if spontaneous acts of kindness aren’t your thing, please sponsor me, then you can help these children fight Neuroblastoma, while having a laugh at my athletic incompetence: http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN

Thanks,

Ben x

Loose Swimmin

So this blog doesn’t stray too far into the territory of outdoor fetish-wear, here’s a bit about swimming that I’ve just worked out.

In seven and a half week’s time (gulp) I’ll have to swim this far – about 4 miles, or 6 km from Gosport to where my son Rocky’s pointing, Ryde, on the Isle of Wight.

yeah, sure, Dad!

The fastest Swim2Bestival was an awe-inspiring 83 minutes last year, the slowest so far, just over 3 hours.
The trail I’ll be blazing on September 8th will probably be the aquatic equivalent of London Marathon’s slowest-ever ‘Brian the Snail’: however long it takes the ocean currents to bring me back to the Isle of Wight.
 
A beginner triathlete – ie: someone rather better at swimming than me – swims 25 yards front crawl in 20 strokes. If I can manage that, it should only take me me a total of 2,816 strokes to reach Ryde, burning a total 1,736 calories – the equivalent of 6 Marathons.
– I am, of course, not referring to the athletic endeavour, but the chocolate bar now better known as Snickers.
Watching TV apparently burns 145 calories per hour. Making my swim the equivalent of just under 11 hours of telly viewing.
– I guess that’s like watching a DVD boxset with all the extras.
I’ve never owned a DVD boxset, but I guess if I’m to attain such a level of fitness, I’d better be off to Blockbusters this afternoon to invest in some.
I wonder if Baywatch Series 1 burns off more than The Wire?
 

Anyway, enough about swimming.  This week will be International Neuroblastoma Week – find out more: http://www.familiesagainstneuroblastoma.org/

So help stop this child-killer claiming more lives & sponsor me now: http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN .

At least that’ll shut me up for a bit!

Why do I think this is important? Read this: https://fatboyswim.wordpress.com/about/

& feel free to comment below please,

All the Bestival,

Ben x

Swimwear photos – as promised.

Woody concerned about his father

Sigh. So here are some swimwear photos as promised. And that’s the Isle of Wight in the background. Behind all the shipping.

Practising in the Solent was rather different than braving the gently-lapping crystal-clear waters of Ibiza last month, – where the only thing to worry about were ageing nudists on the beach – who seemed to be bending right over every time I came up for breath.

(What is it with naturists? They seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time bending right over, as if they’ve lost something very small in the sand that takes absolute ages to find. That’s not natural. That’s what my nine-year-old Rocky would refer to as pulling a moonie.)

I'll show you how it's done Dad

Anyway at least Rocky has finally stopped insisting on joining us on the 4 mile swim across to Bestival on the Isle of Wight, after swimming his heart out – and going backwards in the fast currents of the murky Solent.

He will be joining us by ferry on the day, as I feel it only right my boys see what may be their father’s final resting place.

We’ll be setting out just after midday on September 8 from GAFIR’S Lifeboat station, Portsmouth for this year’s event, hoping the tide will carry us to the left, then back in to land at Ryde on the Isle of Wight, rather than Zakynthos.

http://swim2bestival.blogspot.com/

The lifeboat guy looked less than impressed at my swiming prowess on this visit to the Solent. As we chatted, he looked me up and down, asking, ‘so are you a STRONG swimmer?’ ‘You’ve down this sort of thing BEFORE, right?’ Then as we parted his eyes went misty and he nodded ‘GOOD LUCK, MATE,’ in the sombre tone monkey keepers must’ve sent the first chimps into outer space with.

I was out of breath just struggling to squeeze into my wetsuit. My pal Andrew,- who’ll be doing the swim too, tried his best to hide his exasperation.

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Well I did promise swimsuit pix.

Eight weeks to go! There’s still time to sponsor me and help Families Against Neuroblastoma: http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN – splash the cash and I’ll post even more swimsuit photos!

And there’s still time to book tickets for Bestival and smugly appreciate the convenience of boat travel: www.bestival.net/

I’m off now for a serious sporting endeavour. School sports day and the dads’ race. Some of the dads were limbering up this morning and were bringing starting blocks and everything.

Wish me luck!

Ben x

Why I’m fundraising for FAN – urgent appeal: Alex Noble

Urgent appeal on behalf of Families Against Neuroblastoma: Alex Noble

Alex is a beautiful, happy, cheeky, 2 year old boy who loves Buzz Lightyear, the Gruffalo, Lego, playing in his garden and having fun with his little brother.

News image oneHowever, he was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma in June 2010, aged 20 months. After various treatments, he relapsed recently.

Alex now faces further surgery and chemotherapy to try and battle this awful disease, but unfortunately Britain lags behind other countries in introducing the latest medicines and procedures. This means that to have the best chance of survival, his desperate family needs to look abroad for help and this comes at huge financial cost.

Alex is a precious son, big brother, grandson, cousin and nephew, and his bravery and strength have been an inspiration to them. He’s never stopped smiling even when enduring the most gruelling of treatment and touches the hearts of everyone he meets.

Please help give Alex the best chance he can have by helping FAN raise £150,000 for a therapy called RIST in Germany that is showing amazing results on other UK children in Alex’s situation.

Thank you:

http://www.familiesagainstneuroblastoma.org/FamiliesAgainstNeuroblastoma_alex_noble.html

All the gear and no idea

Gimp my ride

This is the simple 16-step process of squeezing into a neoprene triathlon swimsuit:

Half an hour squeezing my lardy self into the first swimsuit and I did indeed feel like I’d done a triathlon.

The second one I tried on in the triathlon shop cut off circulation to all kinds of important parts.

And by the time I’d struggled into the figure-hugging third suit (which had already broken the £150 mark) I had to ask the shop staff to help me get out of it again. As I had lost all strength in my hands.

Still, flattering aren’t they:

After trying on half a dozen swimsuits, I was beginning to turn blue, could no longer lift my arms, and my testicles had been squeezed back inside my groin.

The patient staff at Bike and Run in East Finchley had by now watched their lunch from the chippie go cold, and looked as if squeezing me in and out of these suits had kind of killed their appetites anyway.

Swimsuit number 7 was definitely the one, they all agreed. A perfect fit. And hi-tec enough to keep my whole body not only warm – but streamlined as I’d bob across the Solent waves like a rubber duck. 

I was too exhausted to disagree. Let alone speak.

I won’t reveal how much I spent, to purchase something that makes me look rather like a gimp who’s lost their mask:

Batman Begins... in East Finchley

Batman Begins... in East Finchley

Somehow I was happy to pay all that for the staff to just let me out of the rubbery torture costume. I’d hoped it would accentuate my athletic physique somewhat. But for some reason I resembled the unironic rubber-clad people I’d glimpsed the only time I’ve ever wandered (BY MISTAKE) in – and straight back out again – of an S&M club. Funnily enough Bike and Run didn’t seem to sell many bicycles with me staggering about the shop stuck-fast in waterproof neoprene…

Now to don it for a trial swim at the lido in Hampstead Heath. My outdoor swimming pal Pat insists it’s the best place to put me through my paces.

That’s if I ever manage to squeeze myself into this ridiculous thing.

Not sure how it’s going to go down on the C11 bus to Hampstead Heath.

Love,

Sportacus x.

PS: While I’m mincing around Hampstead Heath like a fat Sportacus, help FAN help some kids with Neuroblastoma:  http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN

And this is what FAN do – Madison’s story

Why I think FAN are a brilliant charity:
 

Madison

Madison goes to school

Brave Madison Allan, 6,  is back at school after responding well to treatment in Germany.

Her family said the return to lessons was a ‘great sign’ and said that she would now undergo therapy at the new Manchester Children’s Hospital until returning to Germany.

After a relapse, medics in this country had said her cancer was terminal, but Madison has been undergoing hi-tech treatment in the city of Greifswald on the Baltic Coast, currently not available in the UK.

The treatment involves a drug course similar to chemotherapy designed to shrink the tumour wrapped around Madison’s internal organs.

This could be followed by an operation and course of anti-bodies to hopefully clear the cancer altogether.

It is thought that a full range of treatments on the tumour, which Madison has had since the age of 10 months, could cost around £250,000.

At last count the appeal had raised £65,000 but mum Samantha said: “There is money coming in all the time.”

Their are plenty of hurdles ahead for Madison Allan. To find out more about Madison:

http://www.familiesagainstneuroblastoma.org/Latest_News_madison_school.html

Wishing Madison and her family all the best,

Ben.