Time for some updates. I'll post them in installments so that the excitement isn't too much for you.
Due to an imminently approaching departure date (watch this space) my search for sponsorship and funding has begun again in earnest. I've said it many times before on this site, and it's true that whatever happens, this expedition WILL happen, and soon. However, a little money and supplies can make a huge difference. For instance, the better my bike and camping equipment, the less chance there is that I'll freeze to death or get eaten by a bear. Actually that's exaggerating a little, but the premise is true. Higher quality gear (and the correct gear for the task) will vastly improve my chances of my safety and success. Company sponsors are keys to this - and I can offer them a lot in terms of publicity and profile in return for the goods they supply me with (see the sponsorship proposal pack for more info.)
The issue of funding is also a big one. In terms of the film, a few hundred pounds or dollars here and there can help create the professional end product I am hoping to achieve. I really believe in this project, both conceptually and practically, and I think with the scope it has in regards to what I will film, it promises to be informative, entertaining, enjoyable to watch and crucially, constructive beyond the medium of the videos (See more info on The Film). Funding also allows me to have everything I need to complete The Cycling Reporter expedition, as there are certainly things which I will be unable to be supplied with exclusively via sponsorship. It has to be said though, that the main use of any donations that come my way will be to sustain me personally. I could have the best bike, gear and film equipment around, but without any money for food, water and the occasional emergency, I wouldn't get very far. So why else is it important that I do finish what I start with this trip?
1 - I need to complete it to justify my fundraising for UNICEF. I've made a commitment to them, and it would be unfair to ask people for donations to their cause if I don't follow through with my promises. The theory is that a little money donated to me now to help me get going with this trip will facilitate much greater fundraising possibilities for the cause of UNICEF along the way.
2- I have to finish the film, to provide a tangible end product for all the followers, and also to help create the platform for the stories uncovered along the way to be heard.
3- To repay the faith of everyone who has helped and supported me - emotionally, financially, physically and more.
Now that's out of the way, you can imagine how delighted I was when I found out that local businessman Stephen O'Neill (local to the North Coast of Northern Ireland, that is) has come forward with an extremely kind, generous and massively useful donation of £300. This money has arrived at just the right time as I begin to make the final preparations for departure. Stephen O'Neill and his family have been great friends of the McCarrons for a very long time - Stephen's dad Billy and my grandpa Jack went way, way back. I know Stephen primarily from his management of his caravan park in Castlerock, my very own beautiful village on the North Coast. If you are ever visiting this area and need somewhere perfect and picturesque to stay, this is the place to go. There's a lot more info and pictures of the park here; really do check it out if you are ever in the area.
Okay, all the talk and thoughts of Castlerock are making me a little homesick, so I'll wrap up. There'll be more to come soon, so keep an eye out.