FOUR LESSONS FROM A FUNDRAISING WALK ON THE CAUSEWAY COAST

16th November 2017

group-shot-beginning-1The autumn weather was dramatic, as it often is along the picturesque coast of Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast. Nevertheless, a small group of volunteers from Derry/Londonderry and Coleraine were wrapped up and prepared to exert themselves against buffeting winds, and frequent hail showers for a good cause. As the time on their watches ticked over to 10:30am on Sunday Morning, 11 November, the intrepid adventurers left their cars behind in the Portrush car park and pushed into the wind towards the famous Giant’s Causeway, 13 km down the road. The purpose of the walk was to raise funds for the British Heart foundation. But as they battled the elements, several other benefits became obvious. Weiers Coetser, who went along for the adventure reflects on a few:

1. It is true what they say about stepping outside of comfort zones.

gosia-starting-point-3As we sat in our cosy cars we wondered who in their right mind would want to step into the cold air with a wind-chill factor that was close to freezing and frequent rain showers. But when we did it - wearing three or four layers of clothes - we discovered how energizing it really was. It was as though the wind blew away all our daily troubles. The mood in the group was buoyant. We imagined all the positive ions swirling around us. Our spirits lifted, and we felt really alive! We also discovered that there were people “madder” than us! About 30 people had gathered to go for a swim in freezing waters of the sea at Portrush! They did not stay in long! Step out of your comfort zone. It is good for your health and good for your spirit!

2. Tough conditions often offer opportunities to experience exquisite beauty.

portbalintrae-7The sun sits very low on the horizon in the North of Ireland this time of the year. The result is that everything displays itself in softer hues and beautiful contrasts. Of course the exquisite coastline and unique sea cliffs contributed greatly to the beauty. Have you experienced a waterfall where the water is blown upwards by the wind? Or bubbles of white sea foam wafting through the air after being blown up through a chimney hole in the rocks with the sea pounding far below?

3. It’s good to shift the focus away from ourselves.

PLC-hidden-8In recent months in Derry we’ve been working hard to raise awareness of the fitness and lifestyle programme that we run on the ground floor of our church building. There has been no shortage of promotions and special events to invite the community to join this worthwhile project. But this time round our Prehen Lifestyle Centre T-shirts moved to the bottom layer of our out-door apparel and we donned British Heart Foundation vests. David Dickie, from the Coleraine Seventh-day Adventist church was our inspiration. He’s been doing this for years. His interest in the heart foundation developed after he experienced a heart attack himself. Since then he has raised thousands of pounds for the organisation. We were excited that he could walk with us. It was good to focus on somebody else’s cause for a while.

4. It does not take much to get onto the map.

railway-shot-1We completed the 13km walk in just over three hours. We did it in quite rough weather conditions, but it was a good family outing that 11-year-olds and 65-year-olds with different fitness levels could all comfortably participate in. As we were walking we dreamt about doing the full 65km coastal route, but at the end of the day, we had done quite a bit, and it felt like it was just enough! And the just-enough also put us on the map. It gave us a story to tell. People took note and they gave their support. Many donations are still coming in, almost a week after the event. A little-bit of effort can go a long way.

As we were walking, Rick Roberts updated supporters by means of a Facebook Live feed. Here are some of the highlights.

Much more can be said for engaging on small adventures like these. It brought together members of two churches and strengthened the team spirit. As we came back home and shared our story, we realised how many others are longing to be part of a group who could enjoy such adventures. If we were to embark on the same adventure again, we would be bolder in inviting others to join us.

Have you, or your church community done something similar? Please share your stories and photos with the Irish Mission communication team. We would like to tell your story as well.

[Weiers Coetser]


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