Stephen Ramsden is the chair of Potential Plus UK’s Trustees. He rather rashly offered to undertake our first Challenge55 – setting himself the challenge of cycling 55km. Training in the really hot weather in July, he then went on to smash his target of £550 – in the end raising a fantastic £915 for Potential Plus UK. Many thanks to Steve and everyone who will be sponsored to challenge themselves this year to raise funds for Potential Plus UK.

“Challenge55 bike ride completed!
I started my Challenge55 ride at 6.30 in the morning, travelling along the river past all the river festival stalls being set up and finished at 10.30. So took 4 hours exactly to ride 56km. My sincere thanks to everyone who supported me!” – Stephen Ramsden.

What I Learned By Taking Part In Challenge55

Apart from the main objective of raising money for a small but deserving charity which has helped many families like ours over the past 55 years, below are the 5 main benefits I felt I took out of getting involved in Potential Plus UK’s Challenge55 fundraising campaign.

  1. Getting actively involved in a fundraising campaign has been great fun!

There is a lot to think about and decisions to make about what you are going to do and how you will do it and it’s all your own choice – no one is telling you what to do or how to do it, although there is a great support team at Potential Plus UK able to help you and cheer you on.

You’ll be, as I was, surprised at how much support you will get from your friends and relations who are all likely to be positive about what you are doing.  I found it to be such a big confidence boost to find so many willing me on. Being active in doing something you have an interest in or are passionate about and knowing that you are doing so for a cause you believe in and care about has been very rewarding.

  1. This experience has given me a great sense of achievement

Setting oneself a challenge which appears a little bit daunting leads to a tremendous feeling of achievement as the goal is reached. However, along the way, I have found my self-confidence increasing and my comfort zone expanding, making me feel today, able to tackle more challenging goals in the future. The preparation for the challenge and its achievement has not only improved my fitness level (cycling 55km will do that to you) but has made me a more positive person.

My advice to you is thus, that there is no point in setting yourself something you know you can do easily – it won’t be a challenge for you, and you won’t get a sense of achievement when you complete it.  However, nobody sets out to climb Everest as their first mountain. Setting yourself a challenge which is a bit beyond what you think you can do is what you should be aiming for.  It will extend your horizons and will give you a sense of achievement when you complete it.

This achievement will also always be yours, and a great example of essential skills you can demonstrate positively that you have – communication, problem solving, creativity, staying positive, aiming high and leadership being some that come to mind straight away.

  1. I have learned so many new skills and reinforced old ones

Whether you choose your challenge to be an activity you have done before but are stretching your goal or if you have chosen to do something totally new, this will be a great opportunity for learning new skills. Planning out my challenge and communicating with people about it, to spread the message on what I was doing and why was a brand-new experience for me.  You may need to do some training in preparation for your challenge, or you may also have the opportunity to learn a new skill for your challenge (e.g. juggle for 55 minutes) or to perfect an existing skill (e.g. play a musical instrument for 55 minutes).

Getting involved in this challenge has also helped me to develop my ability to engage with people, and has taken me a little bit outside of my comfort zone which has meant that it has stretched my comfort zone, something one will always benefit from, at any age.

As I hadn’t cycled for years, I had to get my bike back in working order, reminding myself how gears worked, the different types of pumps, and learning about the various accessories available now – most usefully a bike app which recorded where I went and how long it took.  I now have some very odd-looking padded biking shorts!

  1. I got to explore new interests

Perhaps there is something you have always thought of doing but never imagined you would be able to do, or never got around to. Use this as an opportunity to throw yourself into a new interest. I decided I could probably cycle 55 kilometres but needed to do some training to work up to it.  I found I really enjoyed being out in the countryside in the sunshine and fresh air, and I will be continuing with my cycling now that I have completed the challenge.

Although it is a good opportunity to explore new interests you will need to set yourself a specific event or goal at, or within, a specific time so that you have a measure of success. I set myself a goal of cycling 55 kilometres on a specific day, but if for example you were to set yourself the goal of learning a new musical instrument, to make it a challenge with an incentive for you to complete you could say you were going to perform in front of family/friends/school… or even at a specific event.

And even if things don’t go perfectly, you can be proud of having a go and setting yourself a challenge which had a degree of risk.

  1. I experienced the most amazing positive engagement with friends and relations

You will be surprised at how much positive feedback you get from your friend and relations.  Perhaps you’ve never done this kind of thing before, and nobody expected you to do it. Well, you will have surprised them, and they will have new respect for you as well as you having it for yourself. Getting involved in this challenge enabled me to get back in touch with friends, old colleagues and other people I had not been in touch with for quite some time and their positive engagement in what I was doing after finding out why I was doing it was truly touching.

I felt so encouraged to find out how many people care about what I was doing and and wanted me to succeed!  With this kind of support who knows what you will go onto achieve in the future!

I wanted to raise £550 for cycling 55 kilometres.  I thought it would be quite difficult – both the challenge and raising the money.  However, I was able to complete my challenge relatively easily and raise nearly a £1,000, smashing my target!

If you have been inspired by Steve’s efforts to undertake your own Challenge55. See our website page Challenge55 for more information about how to join in. Please let us know what you are doing so that we can share your effort and achievement widely.

child reading to an adult