With a young family and a hectic work life, wellbeing has been too far down my agenda for too long. Turn back to mid-April and this imbalance was taking its toll. I was really feeling the strain and this pushed me to get some check-ups at the doctor.

Well, I’m glad I did with a number of tests results pointing to the need for some urgent action: high blood pressure, low vitamin D, blood sugar in the pre-diabetic range and probably best not to mention my BMI… Lifestyle changes needed!

This year also marks 15 years since I lost my dear father to cancer. He battled with multiple myeloma for a relatively short period of time before passing away in November 2009 when he was just 61.

So, combined, these gave me excellent motivation to sign up for the Public Sector Challenge 2024 and to raise money for Cancer Research UK (CRUK).

Having pressured some colleagues at Southend to sign up, I had a team of 9 from work. Before too long, with the help of a couple of colleagues within ACES. ACES Council was on board as a Challenge Partner and we had mustered another team of 9 with a wide geographic spread from Cornwall to Essex and Surrey to West Midlands.

Just over two months into training and I could never have foreseen the transformative effect on my health and wellbeing that signing up to the challenge has had for me.

I have loved getting out walking, exploring the area around where I live and enjoying the beautiful Essex countryside while clocking up steadily increasing distances.

I have now clocked up several walks over 20km with a couple over 25km; significantly 2/3rds of our target distance (albeit minus the hills)!

From a wellbeing perspective, I feel in much better balance, I am happier and feel better prepared to manage the stresses and pressures of life.

I have a new Public Sector Challenge t-shirt on the way – 2 sizes smaller – having shed over a 1.5 stone already. I could never have foreseen how transformative it has been for me. I am actually looking forward to my next check-up and blood tests at the end of July when hopefully I will have corrected most if not all of the trends identified at the end of April.

I am really looking forward to the challenge in September.

Thanks to Jonathan Stephenson and the team for great leadership and all the logistics and to ACES for getting on board as a challenge partner. The challenge is such a powerful connector of people and teams, a great fundraising opportunity and an incredible catalyst for personal and team wellbeing promotion.

Signing up for the challenge has been a real game-changer for me.

Read other stories
Alan Richards
Alan Richards