I can’t speak at the moment. Feel choked. Awestruck, gobsmacked, and humbled beyond anything I think I may have almost ever felt.
Last week I was lucky enough to do the Great British Bike Ride. I trained all summer without practically a care in the world. When I did the ride I looked at the other people doing it, and wondered about why they might be there. I saw people with photographs sellotaped to their bikes of presumably parents, grandparents and the like, and thought how nice it was that they chose to commemorate their family members in that way.
I also wrote a note to Barry today, as I wanted to ask him about a certain three people who did the bike ride. They came in (I believe I am right in saying) last every day, and on the first day for example they were cycling for thirteen and a half hours. They looked absolutely knackered. I saw they had “Pete’s Dragons” shirts on, and had no idea what it was all about. They also looked to be the cheeriest souls on the whole mountain, without it seemed a care in the world. Today I found out what it was all about.
I don’t intend to even comment on what is written below, I don’t need to. I want to let their words speak for themselves. I hope they don’t mind me reproducing it – but this is simply a copy of their website.
Pete’s Dragons – this is for you. I love you all, and that is a big word, but I mean it totally:
Letter from Diva
On the 29th of January this year my perspective on life changed forever. That was the day my little brother decided that his life was too hard, difficult and painful to continue. In the first few weeks after his death (although my logical head kept telling me it was impossible) I kept waiting for someone to step forward and make everything ok again. Surely this was a joke right?? Pete was going to come home with a massive hangover right?? That kind, gentle, quiet, smiley, shy, thoughtful little brother of mine was going to be around forever right??? Wrong.
The five days that Pete was missing were the worst days of my life. I have never felt such despair and helplessness. To have it over such a sustained period was exhausting, I watched my whole family deteriorate in front of my eyes with every passing hour. We had a wonderful support group of friends and extended family who rallied round and helped to keep us going by keeping us fed and helping in our search. But as each night drew in we knew our chances of a happy outcome were diminishing. The first day that he was missing we found the most frustrating – the police had all available officers searching for him but that just wasn’t enough for the terrain. We often say “its a small world” but let me assure you, when your looking for a five foot six, eight stone, 24 year old in rural Cornwall, the world is massive.
On the second day the cavalry arrived. The Cornwall Search and Rescue Team and the North Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team. Just seeing them arrive in their droves, setting up their vans and radio systems gave us the much needed reassurance that everything that could be done was being done. I must confess that at that point I couldn’t care less who they were and where they had come from. One thing and one thing only was driving me and that was finding Pete. I discovered after that the teams in total searched a massive area surrounding where Pete had last been seen. This area included rivers, woods, train tracks, farmland and the weather at the time was horrific, deep snow, rain and hail storms, constant freezing temperatures. However, for as long as the police needed them to help search, they came, from first light till dark. They weren’t successful in finding Pete, he had concealed himself in a place none of us would have ever connected him too, to spare us, his family the trauma of finding him ourselves.
Throughout Devon and Cornwall these teams are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are all volunteers who buy their own equipment. They don’t have a rota system, they all get called out to every job. They recieve no central funding for their equipment. However, in any rescue situation, from missing people to stranded people, in the two counties they are the first point of contact for the police. They are a 999 service.
Have you ever been to Devon or Cornwall, do you know anyone who lives in Devon and Cornwall, do you yourself live in Devon or Cornwall? Having now met these guys I was humbled by the amount of their own time they give up for training and actually carrying out search and rescue operations, they are truly dedicated professionals often juggling their careers and family life with their search and rescue commitments.
That’s why Pete’s Dragons want to raise pots of money for them. They don’t have a high profile, they struggle to raise the money they need to continue their work, against some of the more high profile charities. I didn’t know on the 28th of January 2010 who they were or that they even existed. On the 30th of January my family needed them and they were there.
On a personal note, “Pete’s Dragons” has got me and my family through some of our darkest days. It has kept us busy and focused and enabled us to feel some positivity coming from such a tragic event. We have received an enormous amount of support for which we are deeply touched and extremely grateful. I have to mention the other two Dragons at this stage: phenomenal women who have given up their own lives this summer to train and fundraise like nutters. I find it very hard to tell them to their faces how grateful I am or indeed how I feel about them because I just blub! But for the record ladies “you are awesome and inspirational, your friendship is priceless and I love you both”.
I can’t have my little brother back, my Mum can’t have her son back but what we CAN do with your help is ensure that Search and Rescue Teams have the funding to continue their work and find other peoples loved ones safe and sound.
Please continue to support us though the BIG RIDE, our blog will be updated daily and we will be able to read all messages of support on facebook. The route we will ride is on the LGBBR website and we would love to see as many of you as possible en-route for a wave and some heckling!!!! Thank you for all of your support so far – we really have had a blast!!!!!
Love Diva x x
A Poem by Ditsey
I wonder whatever possessed me
To cycle for so many miles?
Numb toes, arms and fingers
Heaven only knows about piles.
With a fond goodbye to sleeping
Television, alcohol and a life
We train and work and train
Forget the kids. Are you sure I’m a wife?
The birds they stay but snoring
Whilst the rabbits they still abound
The roads hold very little traffic
Only the farmers are around.
We’ve purchased shiny bike pumps,
Bright lights and inner tubes
But the kit list it says ear plugs,
An eye mask and some ‘lube”?
The Dragons, my they fund raise
From ‘Spinning’ to Car Boot Sales
Sporting Sweaty Betty clothing
Matching lippie, bright pink nails.
On Sundays you will find us
Up a mound or up a hill
With the Dynamos’ help and patience
And a cuppa at the Mill.
The ‘Bonk’ it comes to Ditsey
And a Diva strop will pass
Dreggie will get her baps out
But the Dragons; now they’re fast.
The days they are a passing
That GBBR is looming near
Is it anticipation, or excitement?
Or is it just down right fear?
Our muscles they are screaming
There are bags under our eyes
But the lady promised us ‘whippets’
With long and slender thighs.
What a journey of discovery
What fabulous people we’ve met
What a way to spend a summer
And guess what: it’s not over yet.
We’ve fallen in love with cycling
The freedom and the air
We’re just three very ordinary women,
With a dream we want to share.
We are doing this for you Pete,
Although it may take us some time
But we know that you’ll be with us
As we cross the Twickenham line.
Supporting the Dartmoor Rescue Group, the Cornwall Search and Rescue Team
and Help for Heroes