Wednesday 9 January 2013

Taking up the challenge to help bats


Myself (left) and James Shipman
raised over £700 for BCT running the Royal Parks Half Marathon
Ringing in the New Year brings a fresh start and a determination to make this year even better than the year before. Lots of us will have made New Year’s resolutions to make our lives a little better, even if it is hard.   But as I write this it is estimated that already one in four of us will have given up on our resolutions and shockingly by June almost half of us will have ditched them. So this got me thinking how can we stick at them?

It is easy to dismiss giving up on resolutions as laziness, lack of self-control and setting too high an expectation, but knowing this doesn't help you stick to them.  But maybe if we can give our resolutions a bigger purpose or are challenging ourselves for the good of something we love gives us an extra push we need and that is what helps us persevere through the tough times too.

The reason why we do it

Working at the Bat Conservation Trust I see volunteers, members and supporters doing amazing things every day, and they never give up. What do they have that New Year’s resolution setters don't? Well I reckon it is because they are doing it for the bats - a cause they love.  I think this is where fundraising for bats can really make a difference - chances are, if you are reading this blog - you’re not just a liker of bats but you are probably pretty batty for them. Do people call you bat man? Are you always Dracula at Halloween? If so carry on reading...

If you want to stick to your resolutions why not do it for the bats and combine it with raising some money? There are many ways you can give to a charity, donating a tenner, becoming a member and leaving a legacy , but fundraising for charities by giving your time and energy can give you that extra drive to stick to your New Year's resolutions. Whether you donate your cigarette money to bats or get sponsored to do all that exercise there are lots to ways to turn your resolution into something more. It can be so rewarding for both you and your chosen charity and give you the determination to keep going when others would give up.

Sean Hanna dressing as a noctule for BCT

As well as helping us by raising much needed funds taking on a challenge for charity helps us in many other ways. Educating your friends and family too. It  can inspire others to do that little bit extra for bats too.

What’s in it for you? As well as giving you the boost to keep going.  Taking on a challenge for charity you love is also a great way to become more involved, learn more and meet new friends.

In the past we have had students walking 500 miles for us (I don't think they then walked 500 more), people undertaking fun runs dressed as bats, half marathons and cycle challenges in aid of us right through to people going that extra mile, hosting Halloween parties, having cake stalls at school and even a guess the date and weight of a birth. 
Northern Ireland Environment Agency holding
a cake sale and raising over £150 for bat
 And this year looks set to be a great year for fundraising we already have two people running for us in the Royal Parks Half Marathon, someone cycling 100 miles for bats and a student who is prepared to spend the day blindfolded in order to dispel the myths educate their friends and raise some vital cash for bats.

So maybe don’t worry about seeing all your resolutions through this year just make one small one to have some fun and help a charity that you care about 
 Last year my New Year's resolution to was to do more exercise - I hadn't run since high school so entered the year with a sense of trepidation and I have to admit the first few months were arduous, I hardly ran and it was surprising how many 'reasons' I could find to not have to do a run. Soon I realised it was crunch time “To run or not to run”
Myself  after my run

That’s when the running place for the half marathon came up, I decided to enter myself before I had a chance to say “No”

Running this time was different, every mile was an achievement closer to my end goal and sooner or later I actually found myself enjoying it. What’s more the joy didn’t stop there. It gave me opportunities to talk to my friends and family about my love for conservation - when I asked them if they would like to sponsor me more often than not the first thing they said was, why? And why bats?? A smirk would then rise on my face and I’d take a deep breath before beginning with "Well,..”

Race day came and I met up with fellow BCT member James Shipman who was also racing for us. The nerves were kicking in but I knew there was no way of getting out of it. So I did what I had to do and ran, simply ran and yes it was horrid, yes I felt like I wanted to give up at every mile but when the going got tough I just thought about everyone who had sponsored me and how it had made me feel that people had faith in me that I would do it and then it was over.. .

I did say I would never run again but I think everyone knew it wouldn’t be long before I had my trainers on again, so here I am in 2013 with new running goals and new charities to enthuse people about. This year I am planning on running 1,000 miles in aid of the MS society (multiple sclerosis) – Don’t worry it’s not all in one go, I totted up the miles I would have trained last year and figured it wouldn’t be too hard to run a bit more each day and use all my training and marathon running miles together. 

What I really love about the fundraising I do is how my  it embodies my two passions in life - I really have the running bug and through simply putting one step in from of the other I can educate and enthuse people and raise money for charities that I respect... “ Quids in” I’d say.

Halloween cake sale at the Northern Ireland
Environment agency head office
Whatever you choose to do, if you do it for that bats; just remember that we are here to help you at every stage of the way.

 Simply visit or email me at for information and advice.

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