The Baton and the Ravenmaster, or how much do you want it!

Have you ever looked at the odd couples, the ones where one appears to be visually for more attractive? Especially the one with the stunning lady and the plainer fella. Come on, we all have, it’s impossible as humans not to prejudge and make assumptions. We might not say it, but we’ve all thought it from time to time.

The one occasion where I, or my partner, or wife have known them the response from the lady was, ‘well, he asked me.’

Have you ever not asked for something you really wanted because you didn’t think the answer would ever be ‘yes’?  Or because some else told you to be realistic, ‘you’ve got no chance’? And that then fed into your fears, and you just didn’t bother.

Again, I bet you have, or rather, haven’t.

Well, despite all difficulties, perceived difficulties, I went against that preconditioning last year and asked a question.

Next year I am going to walk the Penine Way. All two hundred and twenty-one miles of it.

And the Baton of Hope is coming with me.

Yes, you read that right, the Baton of Hope is coming with me.

So, let’s start at the beginning. I have always wanted to walk the Penine Way.  Not sure when it started to become an item on the bucket list, however it was probably after Ross, my son, and I walked the West Highland Way and were looking for another walk to do.

It was always just too long a walk to do, so never became a reality. However, with my 60th impending, we, my wife and I, decided I should do it in the lead up to my birthday and it was scheduled for September.  Shortly after I thought why not make it a sponsorable project and raise some money for a mental health organization and raise awareness of mental health at the same time. I also wanted the four sons in our family to share in the walk, they all agreed to join me on some level. Great bonding opportunity.  More excitement.

A little while later, a friend of mine, Paul, showed me some pictures of the Baton of Hope, a project he was heavily involved in making. My little grey cells got going and I began to wonder if the baton could come on the walk with me. So, I sent Mike McCarthy, who set up the Baton of Hope Charity and asked him if it was possible.

This was massive for me, with the anxiety I deal with screaming I my head, ‘they’ll never say yes, they always say no’. I did it anyway.  One of my ‘rules’ for living these days is, if it scares me, then that’s the time to put a foot forward, so I did.  I’m not doing a bungee jump any time soon though I would add.

Mike came back and said that in principle he couldn’t see why not.


However, as the charity was still in its infancy, he couldn’t give a definite ‘yes’ until there was a board of trustees to ratify his agreement in principle. Five months and many meetings and discussions later, not to mention one about why do so many of my photos have a sword in them? And today, fifteenth of February 2024 we got confirmation from Mike that the Baton of Hope will be joining us in September.  Promotion proper will begin later in the year, but I can’t contain good news like that, especially when I’ve had to be quiet for so long.

Thank you Mike.

And the ravenmaster, Chris Scaife, well he’s a Dover lad who went to school with my wife. He came to visit the Rotary Club of Dover today and gave a fantastic presentation about life with the ravens in the Tower and agreed to have his picture taken with me, making an amazing day even better. Thank you, Chris.

So there you have it, the baton and the Ravenmaster, or how much do you want it?

Just got to manage two hundred and twenty-one miles of the Penine way now!

Simon Pollard  Urban Countryman   February 2024

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