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Mount Kilimanjaro

12 months ago, on a free at last​ fundraiser (the Oddball Run), Steven Quance​ and I decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free standing mountain in the world. Little did either of us know the extent of the journey we would travel, or that it would become a journey shared with 6 other amazing people – Nikky Brand,​ Naomi Spencer,​ Nigel Evans​, Alex Evans​, Stuart James​, Ollie Cooper​

Being the lover of mountains that I am, I felt prepared for everything that we were about to face, with my only concern being my reaction to altitude. On arrival at the first camp I had a splitting headache and shivering, thinking the worse that I had altitude sickness and would end my journey here. It turned out to be a shortage of caffeine and a release of adrenaline from finally starting this epic journey.

Everything was going fine until an hour into day 3 when I stepped up onto a boulder, and as I stepped down the other side I landed awkwardly on a smaller stone and went over on my left ankle. I heard 2 cracks and again presumed my challenge was over.

If you know me well, you will know I am very stubborn and with a mind over muscle/matter mentality I walked Pole Pole (slowly slowly) to the next camp. Steve and Stu helped me get my boot off and realised this was not a simple sprain. Nevertheless, I had no intention of turning around and with grit, determination, stubbornness, team support, prayer and an awful lot of ibroprofen, I made it to the summit of Kilimanjaro with my awesome team.

I climb mountains because I love being surrounded by God’s creation, and I climbed Kili to be at over 4000 metres before I’m 50 and to raise funds for free@last. With your continued support we are heading towards an amazing amount of money, to which I am truly thankful.

The things we do at free@last require us to be visionary, committed, passionate and stubborn, which reflects my life on the mountain. But we also need a huge amount of help, which we received from the team and our new G Adventure family. You can still be involved with our Kili experience and sponsor my insane journey of summiting Kilimanjaro with a fractured/broken/sprained foot (the hospital are dealing with any blood clotting first before they unearth the true damage of the ankle).

Please continue to financially support us: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/john-street-kili

One of our sponsors, Plan {b} Creative has also written a short piece about the climb, have a read here.

Thank you for all you have done. Enjoy the photos and please share this post as much as you can.

John 🙂

 

 

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Invitation To Tender 2019

free@last have the opportunity for a qualified and experienced consultant to work with us this Autumn. For more information please download the ITT document here free@last Invitation To Tender July 2019

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Tresaith Youth Residential

It’s always a great time of the year when we can take our teenagers away on a residential, and this week we had a great time in a beautiful little coastal village in West Wales called Tresaith. We had 5 wonderful volunteers, on their first free@last residential, making it possible for 18 teenagers, aged 11 to 17, to have a fun, relaxing time. We enjoyed time on the beach, surf kayaking, coastline exploring, a day at Oakwood Theme Park, fish & chips on the conk at Tenby and a game of archery tag, amongst many other activities. Our young people are awesome, and we are so proud of them, not just for washing up but all the working together to make this an amazing holiday. Thank you to Sarah, Jille, Titch, Cal & Adam and to all the sponsors for making this possible – you’re all amazing.

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Queens Award for Voluntary Service

free@last is delighted to announce that we are honoured to have received the Queens Award for Voluntary Service. The tireless work of our team of volunteers, staff and supporters over the past 20 years has been recognised by the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

We will be presented with the Award, by John Crabtree, Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands, during a ceremony later this year, and as part of the Award proceedings, John & Jan were privileged enough to represent free@last at a recent Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.

free@last is passionate about improving the lives of the children and young people in Nechells and we continue to work through the challenges that all voluntary organisations currently face, as well as the many local ones, so that we can provide the necessary support and a breadth of opportunities to broaden horizons and improve futures.

If you would like to become part of our award winning team then please get in touch with us by emailing info@freeatlast.st or calling 0121 327 5959

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Big Build Ball

Our young people had the opportunity to look stunning at our annual Big Build Ball, in aid of raising necessary funds to enable us to continue building the lives of our children and young people, to enable them to live life to the full. Once again it was expertly organised by the amazing Emma Jones from All in All Events, and located at the stunning venue for our 3rd year running. We had some 144 guests, which include 16 young people from Nechells, who’s places and outfits had been bought by some of our supporters. We also had some amazing raffles prizes, a special raffle of a bespoke tailor made suit from Adrian Barrows and a couture dress made by Julia Suzuki. We also had some amazing auction prizes donated from Wasps, Spencer Turner, Steve Saul, the Belfry and Kate Milton Travel; which all contributed to the £6,500 that we raised on the night.

Although this is a fundraiser, we see this more as a thank you to our supporters, who give their time, money and resources so generously throughout the year and to welcome new supporters to the free@last family. This was a fantastic night, which we thank all of you for, and we look forward to next year’s already. Thank you.

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Cheltenham Races

During Cheltenham Races week we made horses for the children in the primary youth club to race together as a team. They all had great fun

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The High Sheriff of the West Midlands Award

We were exceptionally honoured to have been invited to join with other guests at the High Sheriff of the West Midlands Awards Dinner, in St Martins Church in the city centre. This prestigious occasion was to mark the individuals and organisations who have been inspirational over the last 12 months and beyond, across the whole of the West Midlands. Unexpectedly, free@last was included in the awards in recognition of great and valuable services to the community of Nechells. We are exceptionally proud and humbled by this award and will continue to live and work to the standards that have been awarded here. Our thanks go to Chris Loughran, the High Sheriff, for his support and recognition of our work, thank you.

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Nechells Lions have heart

The Nechells Lions had a tough match in the latest competition, as they only had 6 players turn up, but still decided to play the match against a team of 14 players, fielding a rotating 9. Not only did they have a third less players, they had thick fog to navigate through, right up until the end, when the sun came out! although they lost the match 14:1, the showed their true heart as they battled on to the end. Well done boys.

 

 

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Gowlings WLG supporting our young people

At the end of 2018, a team from international solicitor firm Gowlings WLG & Co, pledged to support free@last in any way they could. One of the team, Richard Lowe, ran a half marathan to raise money towards taking a group of young people to visit the Gowlings office in London. Richard bought the train tickets, joined us on the journey to London and arranged a tour of the building and guest speakers. Following a lovely lunch and a ‘short’ stroll along the banks of the River Thames we ended up visiting the London Dungeons. This was a great day for our young people and we are exceptionally thankful to Richard and the team who for supporting free@last and organising this excellent trip.

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Candy Bubbles 10th Anniversary

Our very own Naomi Spencer, founder and director of Candy Bubbles (and also manager of the Nechells Lions), celebrated her 10th Anniversary of Candy Bubbles. It was a lovely evening of celebration, memories, friends and family joining together for a fun filled evening showing what has been achieved from a girl from Nechells. Naomi epitomises inspiration, passion and drive to achieve and is a great role model for our young people. Oh, and she was raising money for free@last too, her chosen charity 🙂

 

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