Virgin Media Apprentices – Doing their bit for charity! Guest blogger Chris Starling fills us in on his apprentice team’s latest adventures

The Virgin Media apprentices are a great bunch – they don’t just work hard, they throw themselves into all kinds of experiences as part of their apprenticeship.

Every year we organise a charity event, and every year the apprentices show huge amounts of enthusiasm in helping us raise money for worthy causes. In 2011 more than £4,000 was raised, and in 2012 we wanted to do even better.

This year our main event took the form of a coast-to-coast bike ride – almost 140 miles in the saddle! It was a daunting task, but the causes we were fundraising for gave us the extra motivation to complete the job at hand – Cancer Research UK and the Make A Wish Foundation.

The trip took four days, cycling between 30 and 40 miles a day – with the added bonus of being able to camp at the end of the journey. This extra element of luxury meant that we were in intimate terms with the local gnats, and that we gained a new appreciation of the natural world – as well as the healing power of Vaseline!

We started – as tradition dictates – by dipping our rear wheels in at the Irish Sea, following up with the North Sea when we reached the other side. However, one of the participants took this a little too literally and accidentally ended up dipping his entire self into the Irish Sea!  Of course we could have helped him, but that would mean we would have got wet so – decided it was easier to watch him go in!

All went well until the fourth day of the trip, when the good old British weather made an appearance. We ended up stranded when the monsoons hit Newcastle – I have never seen so much rain fall in such a short amount of time.  It was unbelievable.  Four of our riders abandoned the last 5 miles having taken shelter in a local garage.  In the time that it took to put 2 bikes on the roof of my car my feet were totally submerged in water!

After cycling the final 21 miles on the Friday the sun came out to watch us approach the finishing line – North Sea in Roker.

After what feels like a massive achievement we have raised over £6,200 for the incredible charities and the money is still coming in.  I’m not sure if I am quite looking forward to next years challenge, I still need a bit of time to recover, but whatever it is, I’ll do it with style – and I’m sure the Virgin Media apprentices will be there at my side!

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