The idea of a change of career is nothing new I know, but database analyst to canal towpath fundraiser is quite a big change, especially when it is via a 4,500 mile bike ride around the coast of Britain. This is how it happened.
Being made redundant was all the excuse I needed to take a complete break and fulfill a long held ambition to cycle around Great Britain. My wife was daft enough to want to come too so in April last year we packed our tent, sleeping bags and a few spare items of clothing on to our bikes and had, what turned out to be, an adventure of a life time.
Everybody told us such a trip might be life-changing and to be honest that is what I wanted. I was looking for a complete change in career, lifestyle and outlook and that is exactly what I got.
Looking for work on our return turned out to be a soul destroying business and I started to apply for anything and everything so long as it didn’t involve computers, offices or Monday to Friday, nine to five routine. When I got a phone call asking if I was still interested in the role of Canal & River Trust fundraiser I was a little bit cautious because I couldn’t actually remember what the job involved.
I tentatively asked the woman at the agency if I would be making calls in an office or rattling a tin on a towpath and when she said it was more the latter I was overjoyed. I think she was a little taken aback by my enthusiasm to be honest but the job really did tick a lot of boxes for me.
So what’s it like being a Trust fundraiser? Well it’s hard work but I love it. I get to work in some great locations surrounded by fabulous scenery and wildlife and I spend my days talking to people about something I love, the canals.
Stopping complete strangers and engaging them in conversation can be challenging at times and I do seem to attract one or two, shall we say, more interesting characters, but mostly people are just keen to know what we do. I love explaining to them everything about the Trust’s work and if I can convince them to support us by becoming a ‘friend’ then all the better.
I wanted a change from office routine and I certainly got that. In the eight short weeks I have been employed I have watched a heron diving for fish like a giant monochrome kingfisher (which they don’t normally do apparently).
I have been given a ten minute lecture on the intricacies of VHF radio (riveting stuff) and I have had a member of the public blown away whilst I was talking to him. It wasn’t my compelling sales patter that did it, it was just a very strong gust of wind that took him by surprise!
At the end of each week I send off my paperwork related to new ‘friends of the trust’ and I can’t help but enjoy a little chuckle. I imagine somebody somewhere feeding in the data to a computer so that somebody else can do the data analysis that will ultimately determine whether I keep my job or not. I expect they do it between nine and five sometime on a Monday to Friday and it makes me smile.
Keep up with Tony's travels and thoughts at Clockwise Words.
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