HAPPY New Year! I hope you all had a great Christmas. I had a wonderful time with family and friends some of which I had not seen since last Christmas. It was lovely to catch up with them all and I wish them a safe journey back home.
I cannot believe how quickly the past year has gone by. I sat down to write this column expecting it to be a short one this week, it was only when I began looking through my photos that I realised how much has happened throughout 2014. Once you do something you tend to forget about it for a while. I am lucky with my weekly column as it gives me the opportunity to look over the various happenings throughout the year.
There were three things that happened during 2014 that I am very proud of. One was climbing Mount Errigal. I have mentioned in the past how I had avoided Errigal as I thought it would have been too difficult to climb. I had a habit of assuming things would be too difficult for me, Errigal proved that you just don’t know until you try. The photos I got at the top were great and the people I met along the way were inspiring.
My involvement with Darkness Into Light was the second highlight of 2014. It was the first time I had been on a committee and it surprised me how many people were willing to give up their time to help others. The morning of the walk was one I will never forget. I was so tired when I first awoke but the second I got out of bed I was filled with excitement and anticipation for the morning ahead. I had been a little anxious as the weather looked unsettled but my anxiety was flattened once I arrived at the venue. The number of volunteers were staggering.
An hour after I arrived people were forced to stand outside the Community Centre as there was no room for them inside! I recall taking a moment to look around and acknowledge the activity taking place. I felt honoured to be involved with such a worthy cause and when I crossed the finish line I truly felt proud at what I had achieved. I had blisters all over my hands which burned for two days but it was okay as every time I looked at them it was a reminder of what we had accomplished. Darkness Into Light Donegal raised over €22,000 for Pieta House.
Passing my driving test was a personal highlight for me in 2014. It was something I had come to believe I would never do. I had taken lessons over the years and held a provisional licence but my hip had always stopped me from progressing. This annoyed me beyond belief!. The lowest point for me was when I had to give up my car because of my deteriorating health. I instantly lost my independence. To this day when I hear a Mumford and Sons song I am transported back to the Summer where I drove everywhere listening to that band on repeat! It was a big loss for me to have to give up driving so when I decided to get lessons at the start of last year I made myself a promise. I vowed to not tell my instructor when my leg got sore. (He will kill me if he is reading this) I decided to completely ignore the pain and get through each lesson as I knew that would bring me closer to applying for my test. I mentioned in last week’s column that it is important to set mini goals. For me, driving involved setting many small goals all involving one bigger aim, to sit my test. Over time I found ways of easing the pain by sitting certain ways in the drivers seat.
I began to realise that my leg wasn’t as big of an issue as I had originally thought. The day I sat my driving test was a great experience but the nerves I felt before hand were unbelievable! I had thought about that day for so many years it was almost difficult to believe it was finally upon me. For those who have sat their test you will know that before they allow you behind the wheel you must first answer some theory questions. My instructor pointed to a sign with the letter ‘H’ on it and asked me to identify it and I went blank. He had to prompt me by saying ‘ it is somewhere you would go if you were sick’ to which I all but screamed ‘HOSPITAL!’ Imagine me of all people forgetting the sign for a hospital. Thankfully the rest of the test went well and I walked out of there with a certificate and a grin on my face the size of Mexico.
Some other highlights for me involved furthering myself. This happened through JCI. I took on the role of joint Vice President in January and have been learning ever since. We have travelled to Cork, Tipperary, Galway, Dublin and Germany with our organisation and I have loved every minute of the experience. I was delighted to pick up the award for Most Outstanding New Member during the Cork National Convention and proudly display my glass award in my sitting room.
During the summer I received my first pair of custom designed Sidestix crutches which arrived from Canada. This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of firefighter Mark Porter who organised a clay pigeon shoot to raise the necessary funds to pay for them. We enjoyed a fabulous day out in Buncrana Gun Club and I was given the opportunity to publically humiliate myself by trying to control a shotgun. It was great fun and I would like to thank Mark again for organising the event.
Some classes I attended during the year include paddle boarding in Rathmullan with Luke Daly and self defence with owner of Rilion Gracie Jiu Jitsu, Brian Coyle. These lessons were informative yet fun. I learned quite a lot about self defence and hope to attend an all female class starting in February. I also learned that stand up paddle boarding is not possible when you have a leg length discrepancy! However with Luke’s guidance we managed to work around it.
My campaign sparked interest from the media during 2014 which was always going to be a welcome occurrence. I appeared in The Irish Independent and spoke on BBC Radio Foyle. I love doing interviews because of the messages I tend to get from strangers afterwards. I have spoken to people from numerous countries who have stumbled across an article or radio podcast and have found me through these avenues. It also helps with my plan to become a public speaker and while acting as MC for a charity event during the year I got another chance to practice. I must admit, I found that quite terrifying, it is something I will have to work on more this year. My new role with the Chamber of Commerce might help with that. I took a seat on the council in December 2014 and feel excited for what lies ahead.
I must mention my campaign sponsors; All Sports who are based in Donegal Town. I would like to thank them for my training gear which they branded for me. I love each piece and still feel great each and every time I wear them. A big thank you to Gareth and the boys.
Winning Crowd Favourite after I sang in a competition was a great achievement for me. Not unlike public speaking, I find singing to be a terrifying experience. The contest was organised by the Ross Nugent Foundation of whom I am an avid supporter.
And finally, I would like to thank business owner and rally fanatic, Denis Ferry for his support throughout 2014. Denis became a mentor of sorts (I don’t think he knew that) and he pushed me to face certain things I didn’t think I could face, such as my driving test. In fact, it was after a phonecall with him that I booked it. He told me he wouldn’t take me out driving until I applied for my full licence! Denis, thank you for everything.
Well folks that was my round up of the year. Here’s hoping 2015 is even more exciting!
Nikki Bradley is the founder of Fighting Fit For Ewing’s, a campaign to promote awareness of Ewing’s Sarcoma. Nikki is sponsored by All Sports in Donegal Town. Support her campaign by giving ‘Fighting Fit For Ewing’s’ a LIKE on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @nikkibradley59