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By Dave Garrett, Business Change Analyst at Ben

Dave Garrett – Devizes to Westminster Canoe Marathon.

At the beginning of the year, I set myself an epic personal challenge to raise money for Ben by covering 4000 ‘self-propelled’ miles in a year by walking, swimming, running, kayaking and cycling. This is in line with Ben’s four quarterly awareness campaigns, focused on financial, social, physical and mental health and wellbeing. Each 1000 miles represents one of these pillars. I completed 1160 miles from January to March, having started in a ‘debt’ of 160 miles, to represent the financial pillar.

As part of the challenge I’m also participating in a number of arduous endurance events which would each be tough enough as standalone challenges! So far, I have completed the Farnborough Winter Half Marathon, the Waterside Series Canoe Races and the Devizes to Westminister International Canoe Marathon (known as the paddlers Everest, 125 miles kayak from Devizes to Westminister). My focus now turns to Swim Run starting with ÖtillÖ Scilly Isles in June, a race swimming between and running across the many islands in the Isles of Scilly.

Here are my top tips so far to help others undertaking a similar personal challenge, but they can also be applied to other life challenges…


  1. Discipline is everything

With anything you plan to do, there comes a point when you need to decide whether you’re going to go ahead and actually do it or not! The factors which influence your decision can be thought of as ‘motivators’ or ‘demotivators’. Keep yourself on track to achieve your end goal by having strategies to motivate yourself even when the people and environment around you seem to prevent you.

For me, I have the motivation of my end goal (4000 miles in a year) which I break down into smaller chunks. For example, I think of it as 1000 miles per quarter or 333 miles per month – or whatever I need to achieve for the day or week to stay on track. Discipline is key and can be as simple as making an early start, getting an early night or checking the weather so you have the right kit ready for the morning.


  1. Be prepared

Plan ahead. One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced so far is keeping on top of my personal admin. If I plan to cycle to work during the week I make sure I have a few sets of work clothes ironed and at work ready to change into. I also keep on top of basic housework like ironing my kids’ school uniforms and other general household chores. These things might seem small, but when you’re already short of time, little tasks add up!

The other key area to plan for is weather conditions. Watching forecasts and carrying warm/waterproof gear to ride or train in is essential. This is one of those lessons that I learned the hard way. Cycling in freezing cold conditions with no gloves is a pretty painful experience and getting caught in the rain without waterproofs is miserable! Unfortunately I have a limited supply of wet weather kit so have to get it washed and dry in time for the next session (often the next morning).


  1. Get ready for a bumpy ride

There are bound to be bumps in the road ahead. Sometimes you can swerve and miss them and other times you might need to absorb the impact! Be prepared to take the rough with the smooth and don’t get frustrated when the path isn’t quite how you would like. When I come across a rough patch that I’m unable to avoid I tend to put my head down and power on through.

During particularly long events you tend to find yourself in some pretty dark places mentally. Negative thoughts can make even an easy venture seem a lot harder, almost like wading through invisible mud! I do my best to reason with or switch off any negative ‘self-talk’. I’ve heard this called ‘shutting the duck up’ (the imaginary duck that quacks away annoyingly in your ear) and believe me when I say it’s much easier to focus on the task at hand without the burden of dark thoughts.


  1. Keep going, inch by inch!

There’s a famous Al Pacino speech, from the film ‘Any Given Sunday’, which personally resonates with me: “Life’s this game of inches. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second… We claw with our fingernails for that inch. Because we know when add up all those inches, that’s gonna make the difference between winning and losing!”

The margins for failure or error are small so fight for every inch until you win and achieve your goal. When you’re tired, keep going! When people or tasks distract you, keep going! When the journey ahead seems arduous, keep going! Whatever the weather, when it’s cold, wet, windy, snowing – keep going!

Every little bit counts. If the destination seems far away in the distance, break it down into smaller steps so it seems easier to reach the next milestone.


  1. Smile This one is simple; put a smile on your face! The more you can smile the better! A good friend of mine once told me; when you can no longer smile during an activity, you know you’ve got nothing left both mentally and physically. I often smile while I’m on a long session which helps to lift me mentally and physically, especially if I hit a low point. I also smile at people I pass and usually get a smile back which definitely helps to lift the spirits!



If you would like to follow regular updates from Dave on his Facebook page click here and to donate click here.


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Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) has announced it will once again be hosting its Team Golf Challenge, which will take place on July 5 at Worsley Park, Nr Manchester, and 10 August at Forest of Arden in Meriden, Warwickshire in aid of automotive trade charity, BEN.

IAAF supports BEN throughout the year by holding a variety of fundraising events including its upcoming annual cricket event on June 22 at Dorridge Cricket club near Solihull.

The federation’s annual awards dinner, held in December, recently raised more than £6000 on the night from guests.

The cost per team (four players) will be £325 +vat and will include:

  • Bacon Sandwich and coffee / tea on arrival
  • 18 holes of golf
  • Evening meal served after golf
  • Presentation of prizes to the winners on the day

Individual entries are also accepted at a cost of £85+vat per player.

The Company Team Challenge will be a four-ball format whereby the best two scores on each hole will score, and on all par three holes all four scores will count. The overall winning team across the two days’ play will be invited to the IAAF’s Annual Dinner and will be presented with their prizes.

Sponsorship opportunities are sold out at Forest of Arden, but the following remain for Worsley Park:

  • Nearest the Pin                                            £100 + cost of trophy (c. £50)
  • Longest drive                                               £100 + cost of trophy (c. £50)
  • Light refreshments sponsor                         £100


BEN is a charity exclusively available to those who work, or have worked, in the automotive industry, as well as their family dependents.

The golf events are already set to be hugely popular and those interested are encouraged to waste no time in signing up by contacting the IAAF head office:


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Ben, the not-for-profit that partners with the automotive industry to provide support for life to its people and their families, has been delighted to receive a generous donation from Toyota (GB) PLC, by way of a brand new 4×4.

The Toyota Land Cruiser was recently gifted to Ben’s Birch Hill Care Centre in Berwick-upon-Tweed and has been used to transport its older residents to hospital appointments, as well as helping staff travel to work in winter weather conditions.

Zara Ross, Chief Executive at Ben, said: “It’s fantastic that our Birch Hill Care Centre has received a gift which has been of so much practical value to both our staff and residents. The car has given the centre a lifeline in the winter weather conditions we have been experiencing. It has allowed us to ensure the smooth and safe running of the centre as we have used it to transport our staff to work as well as getting our residents to their hospital appointments.

“Without the support of our industry, we wouldn’t be able to keep providing a vital lifeline to those who need our help. We are supported by our partners in the automotive industry and we are extremely grateful for this generous donation from Toyota (GB) PLC which has meant so much to our care centre.”

Alan Jennings, Manager CSR at Toyota (GB) PLC, said: “Toyota is delighted to contribute towards the great support Ben provides the industry.  Helping ensure ongoing mobility, in all weathers, is vital and the provision of a suitable vehicle is a practical way we can help.”


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