The amazing RSM Warriors team from Reading has more than 20 team members who are willing to face their fears and train hard to help the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award achieve its Diamond Ambition to enable two million young people to start their DofE by 2020.
In June they will learn Jujutsu-based skills including balance taking (kuzushi), take-downs (kokyunage) and immobilisations under the watchful eye of Reading partner, Graham Farquhar.
On Tuesday 20 September they will ride the longest and fastest zip wire in Europe, in Snowdonia. Travelling at incredible speeds, held on by nothing but a couple of wires, they will experience breath-taking g force!
On Saturday 17 September the team will face its toughest challenge: a half Tough Mudder. At five miles long with 15 crazy obstacles in muddy trenches and icy water, every person will need to pull their weight to ensure the whole team crosses the finish line together.
James Fleming, Charlotte Gazzard, Charlotte Ely, Hayley Thomas, Emily Giles, Carl Thompson, Lauren Townsend, Megan Andrew, Ali Sapsford, Ahmad Bhatti, Sam Hill, Alice Wootton, Cameron Knight, Michael Croll, Deeon Bellamy, Chantelle Tutt, Samantha Day, Tom Hemmett, Ryan Sweeney Susan Wilson and Ashleigh Lake.
We have started a Tuesday evening running club to prepare, complete with circuits and even indoor climbing for strength. The running club has proved so popular that we now have a regular training crew and have even recruited non DofE runners, which bodes well for the Southern region (inter-office) Sports Day!
Hayley Thomas and Sam Day are doing all they can to ensure that they can get up and over the Tough Mudder obstacles, Sam has even learned a new climbing skill in the process and is now qualified to safely climb and belay for other climbers, which means that she can fix a running rope around a cleat to ensure the safety of another climber.
Some of the team, those from our outsourcing department, even kept going with their training through recent April snow!
As a result of the team’s proactive attitude and chosen activities, the first 10 to register were selected to attend the event with David Gwilliam (COO), Martin Rodgers (Chairman) and Penrose Foss (legal counsel, partner, and diversity steering group lead). The 10 were: Megan Andrews, Mike Croll, Sam Day, Charlotte Ely, Jamie Fleming, Charli Gazzard, Emily Giles, Cameron Knight, Hayley Thomas and Carl Thompson.
As we entered through the infamous palace gates, the prestige of the event hit home as we realised the members of the public were ogling us at the fence. Once in the glorious gardens, we were given the opportunity to wander freely and, and more importantly, to consume unlimited tea and biscuits! In an area rarely viewed by the public, we all took the chance to have a good ol’ nosy.
We didn’t get very far before the man himself – Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh - made an appearance. As spritely as ever, His Royal Highness made his way to our group, congratulating all the Gold Award recipients and corporate sponsors. RSM was awarded with a plaque for contributions to the Duke of Edinburgh over our 10 years’ of sponsorship.
Hayley, who had recently taken part in the 10km Berkshire run, had successfully pulled off the crutches and heels combination. The crutches caught the Prince’s eye and prompted him to stop for a quick chat: every cloud, hey?!
Most of us were pretty star struck by the plethora of royals and celebrities around the gardens. Sightings of Ronan Keating, Phillip Schofield, Ainsley Harriet, Dr Christian, Steve Backshall, Jayne Torvill, and even a brief chat with Anton Du Beke added to the fun. Unfortunately, selfies were discouraged, so there’s no hard evidence.
After the presentations came to a close, we had plenty of time to explore the ins and outs of the garden before being gently shooed out by the armed guards.
23 RSM Warriors made wonderful use of our sports day t-shirts and lifted, pushed, pulled and carried each other through five miles and over 13 obstacles and we now have the wonderful bruises, scrapes, pictures and headbands to prove it. We pulled together and got through everything as a team, a wonderful experience that has caused many of us to want to repeat the challenge on a bigger scale in May!
For our challenge, the Reading Warriors, or Reading Samurai as they should now be known, chose to learn an ancient form of Japanese jujutsu dating from 1868. This involved traditional Jujutsu classes similar to those held in Japan, which meant having to learn various etiquette (or reigi in Japanese). Over five lessons of two hours each, we learned more than one skill, including the following.
- Balance-taking (Kuzushi): crucial to good Jujutsu, the group learned about strong and weak lines, and just how easy it is to put someone off balance.
- Take downs (Kokyunage): safely taking down an off-balance opponent without (too much) pain.
- Immobilisations (Katame Waza): effective immobilisations to prevent even the strongest opponent from getting up.
- Break falls (Ukemi): learning to fall safely was perhaps the hardest skill, but through practice, we all became proficient.
- Unexpected learnings also followed, such as how painful it can be to sit Japanese style called Seiza (kneeling) for more than a minute.
In our final classes it was clear how much the group had progressed: we were really showing great martial aptitude. This was most evident when some of the smaller female participants successfully executed a take down and immobilisation on larger male colleagues. A number of the group showed great promise to become adept at the art.
Overall I was greatly impressed with how far the group progressed in such a short period of time. They were a pleasure to teach and they all came with a fantastic attitude to learning.
If anyone wishes to sponsor the team, the Just Giving page can still be found at: https://www.justgiving.com/teams/RSMReadingWarriors.