Happy Purple Day everyone!
Today is a fantastic day around the world for Epilepsy Awareness, but it is also a day of great privilege for me personally too.
Earlier this morning, I was among a group that were the first people to climb Big Ben in Westminster that had Epilepsy. For far too long, there existed a health and safety rule that people with Epilepsy were not allowed to climb the landmark. It was a very special experience, not just because it is a unique experience in it's own right, to be standing a few metres away from Big Ben (which is actually the name of the huge hour bell, rather than the clock tower), when it went 10:00am and seeing the hammers that were making the noise that is so familiar round the world, but because of why I was there.
I was there because I was asked by Epilepsy Action to attend the event, the Joint Epilepsy Council had organised to coincide with Purple Day and it was particularly special as someone who is somewhat a politics geek, to be with the first 2 known Epileptic MPs in UK Parliamentary history.
It was also a privilege to climb with another Olympic Torchbearer with Epilepsy, Luke. The number of people I have met casually who will be representing Epilepsy in the Olympic Torch Relay is now half a dozen and I'm sure there are plenty more too hiding somewhere! (Please leave a message at the bottom introducing yourself if you are one of them).
A little known fact too though, (which I only really pull out at group interview ice-breakers) is that the first time I ever voted in a Nation-wide Election, which was in 2008 - I voted for myself.
Being the then President of Durham University's Labour Club at the time, I was asked to stand as a candidate. Done so that it would deter the BNP from putting up a candidate in our area, despite it being a stronghold of the opposition Liberal Democrat party. So to meet 2 inspirational MPs who were not only sitting members of parliament, but also incredibly active in trying to tackle the issues associated with Epilepsy was quite something.
Of course it wasn't overly difficult for me to find clothing for today that had a dash of purple through it. Being a Durham University alumni, it's my university colours. I was a very proud Palatinate today, not just because I was wearing my university colours while representing my condition but also because of achievements of other Durham students new and old very recently.
Durham had won a shed load of medals at the BUCS National Championships the other week. But on top of that, I had recently spoken to my old boss and Team Durham's Deputy Director, Quentin, who explained that there was 3 current students who would be Olympic Torchbearers, which is some achievement, even for a strong sport university like Durham.
It was amazing to know that I was in good company after getting my confirmation letter last week saying I had been confirmed to carry the flame on the 26th of July. I somehow think there will be more than 4 of us though, we are rather expecting Durham alumni Jonathan Edwards to be carrying the flame too, but I have a feeling others like Andrew Strauss would be included also.
The last couple of days have been a purple patch in general actually, meeting 2 other Coca-Cola Torchbearers on Sunday, which included Alex Staniforth who, as I mentioned before, you will hear more of soon. It was amazing even going round London and reminding myself of the wonderful Olympic landmarks there are, not to mention the climbing of an iconic landmark today. Tomorrow I'm looking forward to doing an interview for a rather big Cycling magazine, which I am very excited about and will update you on soon.
In the meantime however, I couldn't resist taking a photo with my new Olympic Torchbearer themed polo shirt and my purple medical band I told you about in my last post, given I visited St Pancras International Station, where the Olympic rings are on display. I went with the second torchbearer I mentioned, who is soon to be the biggest star in the Philippines - Reymund Enteria. So thank-you to Reymund for the photo.
I hope everyone had a great time raising awareness today - I'm off to paint the town, er..... PURPLE!