30 June, 2015

Profile of Russell George

Ed: We welcome Russell to the Association's Committee this year; he is acting as Assistant Treasurer, working with Treasurer Jeff Chambers. 

I became an Association member after completing my walk from John o’ Groats to Land’s End in the summer of 2013. For a long time, I’d wanted to follow in the footsteps (literally!) of Sir Ian Botham and the many others who had walked the length of Britain, but never expected to have the opportunity.

Then, after working for more than thirty years in the energy industry in a variety of senior finance roles, early retirement unexpectedly presented me with my opening to complete the legendary journey, so I grasped it with both hands and both feet. I spent several months planning routes and booking accommodation, before setting off from John o’ Groats on a warm, sunny June day. After a few difficult days in which I was troubled by a badly blistered toe, a roadside fall, excessive baggage and a touch of loneliness, I recovered to face the unexpected challenge of an extended heatwave from Lancashire as far as Somerset, before finally reaching Land’s End on Day 57.

Undertaking the walk also provided the chance to raise funds for charity, so I elected to support Cancer Research UK, a charity I’d run several marathons for during the last century. By the time I’d completed the walk from end to end, I was delighted to have collected donations of nearly £18,000 from my generous supporters.

Since completing the walk, I have published a book about my adventures on the road. This was not a pre-planned follow-up to the walk, but something which I was talked into by friends and colleagues who had read my daily blogs, which I had written to enable supporters to track my progress during my epic journey. As a consequence, much of the year following completion of my JOGLE walk was spent writing, and finding a publisher.

After all the editing, proofreading, designing a book cover and developing a website, , finally, Footsteps in Summer was born in October 2014. All royalties from sales of the book go to Cancer Research UK.

My next role was to market and sell the book. To maximise the charity proceeds, I decided to sell as many books as possible directly, either personally or through my publisher’s website. Having exhausted sales to family, friends and colleagues, I now spend a few days each month giving illustrated talks to a variety of clubs, including Rotary and Women’s Institute. Most provide a charity donation for speaking, but also enable me to sell a few copies of the book. To date, sales have raised a further £4,000 for Cancer Research UK.

I live near Windsor with my wife, Carole, and our two teenage children, Daniel and Hannah. We are surrounded by countryside, with numerous footpaths along the River Thames and within Windsor Great Park, so there are plenty of opportunities for me to go walking and cycling. When I’m not writing, fundraising, walking or cycling, I enjoy watching football and cricket, dabbling in genealogy, and undertaking DIY projects.

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