The Julia Centre Opens, February 2009
Thanks to the generosity of so many friends and family the “Julia Centre” was opened on 19 February 2009 in Canavieiras, Bahia, Brazil. The Centre, in memory of Julia, is part of an existing “crèche”, The Garden of the Angels, which looks after very poor children from the ages of 2 to 10 years old.
The new “Centro Julia” provides much needed care for 6 to 10 year olds who have a place to come to after school, which in Brazil often finishes at lunch time. The provision of the centre allows these children’s parents to work and to be self-sufficient, in the knowledge that their children are safe and well looked after. We are talking of very poor children whose parents need and want to work in order to provide for their families.
(for more information navigate to “The Julia Centre”)
The Julia Centre/Garden of Angels (the Creche)
The Julia Centre, “O Centro Julia”, was inaugurated in February 2009 as an addition to an existing project, “The Garden of Angels”.
The Creche provides daycare for children from the ages of 2 to 10 years.
The Julia Centre takes care of the older children, 6 to 10 years old, enabling their parents to work, a great necessity for the poor in Brazil.
The children at the Centre are not only looked after and fed on a daily basis, but also given any learning support they need to help them with their daily school work. School in Brazil is half-day only and after their lessons the children have somewhere safe to go where they can be supervised, helped and encouraged.
The children’s parents are asked, whenever their circumstances allow, to participate in the day to day life of the Centre. Many mothers volunteer to help in ways they can, perhaps by helping occasionaly in the kitchen, cleaning, and assisting with the children. They are immensely proud to be part of a system that values them and their children.
In October 2008 Georgie Hammond Chambers, Bryher Bailey, Tom Barber, Gabriella Wilcken, Hope Laurie, and Victoria and Richard MacLure organized “The Brazilian”, a Ball to raise money for the original “Centro Julia”. The event was a huge success and brought together hundreds of friends, most of whom had strong connections with Julia and the Thomson family.
The Channel Swim, August 2009
In August 2009 a team of intrepid swimmers , (Los Nadadores, Channel Swim Team ’09) see all the names on teeshirt, swam the English Channel in order to raise money for various Charities amongst which the Julia Thomson Memorial Trust, was a benefactor. Octavia Williams and the rest of the team were amazing, having completed the gruelling feat in 14 hours 37 minutes, an inspiration to us all. We are so greatly indebted to them for their incredible effort
Running Hadrian’s Wall
In December 2010 Andrew Burton undertook the gruelling challenge, in dire weather conditions, of running the length of Hadrian’s wall to raise money for the Julia Memorial Trust. We are so grateful to him for his heroic effort.
Andrew Burton and Alex Breeze tackle Hadrian’s Wall
At midnight on 18th December 2010, Andrew Burton and Alex Breeze set out to run the length of the Hadrian’s Wall Long Distance Path. The route crosses England from West coast to East coast, with a maximum elevation of 345metres – the total elevation gain is significantly more than this due to the nature of the path which has lots of sharp pulls up and down. The months of training and hard graft had been done and it was now time to test our bodies and minds during one of the coldest winters Britain has seen for several decades.
A week before the run, however, the weather had taken a turn for the good. The heavy snow on the ground had thawed out and it was looking like a soft and wet run would be had. It was not to be – a few days later the arctic conditions returned, dumping fresh snow on the higher ground and freezing solid the boggy tussocks. The temperature was reading -4˚C and a stiff easterly wind was blowing at Bowness-on-Solway, with more snow forecast throughout the night.
The first section started with a brilliant bit of well worn single track before crossing some stock fields with sickening ankle breaking cattle hoof holes to contend with. A long stretch on road ensued with some minor navigation issues before following the River Eden upstream and through Carlisle. Night running is by far one the best things you can do – senses are heightened and you are totally focused on the little track ahead. Good time was made to the first checkpoint east of Carlisle where additional clothes and plenty of hot Ribena was taken on board, whilst frozen drinks bottles and hydration bladders were coaxed back into life – this was to be an enduring feature of the run, getting fluid on board was easier said than done. Stopping for even 10 minutes meant that core body temperature dropped significantly and getting moving again was interesting to say the least.
The run to the second checkpoint went by without too much thought, flecks of snow were just starting to make an appearance. Fuelled by more hot drink, sweet things and the thought that it was only 5am got us moving again. The snow got heavier but never really went for it, the temperature being so low that the air was relatively dry. We were now onto more familiar ground, having recce’ed most of the middle section. On past Birdoswald Fort and down into Gilsland saw day beginning to break, just as power from Alex’s head torch was giving up. Another navigation issue happened around Thirlwall Castle making for some tough going through thick undergrowth, then doubling back through it but we were both moving well running through Great Chesters Fort to our waiting Beef Curry breakfast. Lashings of Vaseline were applied here to keep the less than smooth parts running freely and off we went again, climbing up onto Green Slack, the high point of the trail. Downhill all the way now, a great psychological boost (except that was the half of it as plenty of climbing still needed to be done ) – at least we were on well known trails now.
However, this was to be the beginning of the end for Alex as his knee was starting to give him trouble. Pushing on, we passed Housesteads Fort and the big climb up to Sewingshields Crags. Decision time came for Alex and he ran on until the nearest escape route to a well earned hot vehicle. He had clocked up about 48 miles in around 11 hours. Good man and well done to him for raising a good amount of money in memory of Freddie Wyvil. For me it was to be the start of the run in my head. However, the sun was out, the ground was sparkling and it felt great to still be running, and feeling strong with it. I kicked on to claw back some lost time, my bladder being kindly filled with rank water from a tainted Thermos flask and all but stopping any hydration that I was trying to do. To be fair, by this stage I had had enough of the sweet snack food and I knew I was very dehydrated but that water was not for drinking.
As I made it down to the River North Tyne, I had a low point with emotion and too many thoughts getting to me but tarmac and the thought of the big climb up Brunton Bank brought me back to my senses. Passing the end of the drive to my home, a hot bath and bed seemed like a very good idea. A welcome band of supporters however cheered me on and made me think of the bright lights of Newcastle. The day had been progressing fast, the sun was down and the inky black was starting to fill the sky. A brief stop at The Portgate to gear up for another night section was made but the body was flagging (should have eaten more) and it was now a case of grinding out as many more miles as possible. Bitter tomato soup at Harlow Hill was a disaster, need more food. Long slow pulls walking up even slight inclines were the order of the day but with the decreased work rate, body temperature was dropping and the will to go on was slowly ebbing out of me. Heddon-on-the-Wall was my breaking point, but through good grace and an obstinate cousin I kept going, legs like concrete rods.
Finding the support vehicle and some more clothes was a great psychological lift but this was now about a long old haul, shuffling into Newcastle on a Saturday night. I didn’t know this part of the route and it was an uninspiring tarmac trail. All that mattered was grinding out those miles. Paracetemol was a friend by this stage but each and every step was a chore. Every little bone, joint and muscle in my feet were aching. Should have had a pizza or Bigmac. When did I last eat? I was a truly broken man, trying to calculate my current moving speed for the last few hours and with the time at 21:22 I finally stopped – just four miles from the end – my goal of completing in 24hours shattered, not by time but by physical and psychological exhaustion.
So Hadrian’s Wall won that day. Still three back to back marathons in sub-zero conditions was something to take away from the day, more importantly the need to fuel and hydrate has really been driven home. Leaving those last handful of miles has tickled my mind since and the whole length will be put to bed during December 2011 – a self imposed punishment before going on to run more ultramarathons, The Dragons Back race September 2012 (over 200 miles along the spine of Wales) being my next major target.
I have to offer my very heartfelt thanks to all who kindly sponsored me, the best part of £2500 was raised in Julia’s memory and will have made a huge difference to those at The Garden of Angels. My efforts pale into insignificance compared to the daily grind for those in Brazil and the more everyone can do to keep up the excellent work at the Garden of Angels the better.