Today, 31 January, I complete my Dryathlon – one month’s abstinence from alcohol to raise funds for Cancer Research UK. My target was £250, which is what I calculated my household (me, my wife and our mid-20s son) spends on booze each month. The money raised will help to reduce the frightening statistics about cancer in the UK (see final paragraph).
It has been an interesting experience. For a start, it was enlightening to look for substitutes to my regular evening “sundowner” of whisky and ginger, and mealtime glasses of wine. Beginning with the ginger ale sans whisky to ease myself gently into fund-raising mode, I soon decided more alternatives were required. I dabbled with flavoured sparkling waters – apple and raspberry, pear and elderflower – before moving onto the three varieties of J2O, the excellent (if rather sweet) fruit mixes made by Britvic. All this had the enjoyable side-effect of being able to mix my drinks during an evening out without suffering the consequences the following morning. Herbal teas have also become a favourite.
My experience showed me that alcohol did not play as important a part in my life as I had suspected. I knew I wasn’t an alcoholic by any stretch of the imagination, but I also accepted that my sundowners and wine with meals (and, more often than not, a glass or two afterwards) had become as much a habit as a pleasure. When I signed up for the Dryathlon in December I had no idea how difficult I might find it to stay on the wagon for a whole month. With a family wedding on 10 January and two family birthdays (albeit both on one day) a fortnight later, I thought the temptation to join others in their bubbly celebrations might be too great, and was prepared to pay the £20 forfeit if I succumbed. But in the event I stuck to fruity concoctions or water, attracting some more sponsorship for my efforts in the process.
So now my month is almost complete. I feel better. I have lost weight. I remember things more clearly. My bank balance is healthier. And I have met my target for Cancer Research (although that doesn’t mean more donations aren’t welcome!). I send a huge thank-you to all those who have contributed, which helped to strengthen my resolve. It has been a win-win month.
Finally, a word to those who haven’t donated because they thought I wouldn’t make it, or were waiting until I completed the Dryathlon before contributing. This wasn’t about me. During my month of abstinence, some 28,000 people in the UK will have been diagnosed with some form of cancer. More than 430 will have died. Your donation to Cancer Research in response to my miniscule effort to raise funds will help to bring those figures down. You can donate via my JustGiving page, http://www.justgiving.com/Martin-Rickerd-dryathlete. Thank you so much.