We caught up with Neil Emery, who is on his 4th fundraiser for the Matt Kendall Foundation! This time, as we are in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic, Neil is splitting donations between the Matt Kendall Foundation and the NHS.
What motivated you to raise money for us?
“Obviously knowing Matt, that’s something that will always get me up and doing something. It’s my fourth fundraiser for the Matt Kendall Foundation and this time for the next 100 days I will, on alternate days, run 5km and cycle 20km, in total that’s 1,250km (777 miles).”
What a mission! But Neil is no beginner when it comes to covering long distances. He walked 186 miles from Birmingham to Guildford, Matt’s home town, in eight days back in 2017 and his body paid the price.
I walked over a marathon a day. And after eight days I had blisters all over the place!
Last summer, in 2019, Neil set off on a cycle ride along the UK’s canals from Guildford, Surrey (Matt’s home town), passing through Birmingham (Matt’s adopted city) and finishing in Kendal, Cumbria (Matt’s namesake!) He set out to do 500 miles in 11 days, that’s 40 to 56 miles each day. With that challenge, he raised close to £2,500 for the foundation!
His first fundraiser was back in 2015-16 where he organised for a Gibson guitar to go on a world tour. It ended up collecting signatures from lots of famous artists including Paul Weller, Snow Patrol, Razorlight, Richard Hawley,The Charlatons, Stone Roses, Joy Division,The Libertines, Jamie Lawson and Ian Archer!
Matt wanted to set the foundation up, and so it’s up to us to support it, to make sure his legacy and wish to support young people lives on.
Neil met Matt when he came from Devon to study in Birmingham, and raising money for the foundation to be able to help young people means a lot to him.
When I first came to Birmingham I suffered from anxiety attacks. These attacks made it difficult for me to keep the job I had at the time. The money from the job supported my studies and because I couldn’t do my job which involved getting out and about, cleaning and driving a car I was worried I would have to take a time out from my studies. Then one day I was in the library and I stumbled upon a book about funding. I ended up applying to one of the funds in the book and the grant I was given allowed me to finish my studies.
So far, Neil’s latest challenge has gone well. When we spoke to him, on Friday 24 April 2020, he was only five days in to the challenge but so far so good – the local weather has been great with sunny days and warm weather. But, as he says, he knows some days will be more challenging than others going forward. “I’m 48, not the spring chicken I used to be.”
How do you motivate yourself on those days when it’s going to be tough?
There’s a little Matt sitting on my shoulder.
“I remember when he was really ill, and you have got to remember the struggles some people go through. I get grumpier as I get older, but when I do these challenges I always hope people will join in, or do something on their own. I get a bit disappointed when people don’t come when they say they will. I hope people will join the 100 something-challenge and it could be doing 100 of anything! I think we could easily get more than the £1000 I’ve pledged!”
The Matt Kendall Foundation is based in Birmingham and aims to help local young people aged 16-25 who are going through hardship. The foundation provides grants of up to £500 to help change young people’s lives, enabling them to access things that most of us take for granted such as travel to work, clothes for an interview, costs for courses etc.
Since the Matt Kendall Foundation started awarding grants in 2017, over 80 young people have been supported on their journey to achieve their goals. Over 40 grants have been awarded to help young people rendered destitute by the coronavirus pandemic since March 2020.
To support the foundation, and help Neil smash his goal, please find out more, and donate here: https://justgiving.com/crowdfunding/boydis-100-day-challenge