I told my story last year to a group of women in prison. A couple of them were so affected by it that they felt compelled to take positive action in honour of Martha - so they approached the Prison Governor and asked if they could arrange a sponsored event. To be honest, when they first mentioned it to me, I thought it was a lovely gesture, but wasn't sure if it would be possible in practice.

Fast forward to a few months later and I'm leaving Oxford to drive to the prison. It was a lovely, clear day in late July. On the M40 I move into the fast lane and go into 6th gear - the gearknob came off clean in my hand. I glanced down at the metal stick that faced me and took a couple of deep breaths - you're ok, it's ok, just stay calm and all will be fine. I thought, you really couldn't make this up - 50 female prisoners are all waiting for me, having spent months preparing for this day! Just breathe!

I tried to fix the gearknob back on, but the spring inside kept making it ping back off again. Obviously it wasn't the journey I had expected, but with concentration and calm I made it there, steadily, albeit a bit frazzled.

As I entered the wing of the prison where the event was being held, I was greeted by a corner displaying an exhibition of my work to explain why the event was taking place, there were photos of Martha and some staff and inmates were wearing 'Martha's Mile' t-shirts. I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing, they had also knitted teddies and hearts that they had sold to staff, inmates and to visitors during visitations.

I did a quick speech in the gym to a rowdy, but friendly bunch of women - they all looked so happy to be breaking the monotony of their usual routine with something a bit different. The atmosphere was incredible - just before the race began I glanced behind me at the start line and a few of the women were smoking; it resembled a scene from a Harry Enfield sketch and I laughed to myself thinking that Martha would have found this absolutely hilarious.

IMG_0484.JPG

The mile was around the yard, in the middle was a well-kept garden and a chicken shed - it felt very surreal. It all went brilliantly, and at the end I did a book signing, giving each of them a copy of my book that a generous donor had paid for.

A total of £555 was raised which will enable me to continue telling my story to help prevent another precious life being lost. These are the moment in my 'new' life that make it worth living for. I really believe that despite some of the hardships of life - life really is always worth it.

Comment