20 September 2020

We are measured by our actions not our words.

DGR ride host Ed on what it means to really be there for a friend.
Mental Health | Fundraising

"Too many of us are experts at finding excuses to avoid our basic human vocation:  To be a good person.

I volunteered to host the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride after feeling that I was not contributing to society as I wanted – and so I staked my time and efforts to a cause that I could stand behind. This was further solidified, initially after finding out that a friend with whom I’d loosely planned to join the London ride in 2015 had lost his fight with cancer, and then again last year when an old rugby teammate took his own life.
When I get asked about my experience hosting the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride in Cambridge, it is most often expressed that I should feel pleased, or at least satisfied at how the ride has developed and grown.
While acknowledging the joy at seeing friendships and camaraderie evolve in front of me, when I think back over the last five years the other two most prominent emotions that I feel are frustration and relief. Relief at the end that everyone is in safely, without incident. But also frustration that I couldn’t do more; that words of support were empty or that promises of assistance were not followed through. 
I do understand – people always want to feel that they have good intentions, no one wants to feel like they haven’t; and they certainly don’t like it when its pointed out that without follow through those intentions are essentially worthless. But as I’m getting older self-accountability has become a mantra of sorts. We are measured by our actions not our words – and the causes the DGR represents are deadly serious – they warrant action.
After being told at my teammate’s funeral that people close to him were aware he was struggling; that he had accessed help but that he didn’t make it, naturally my 2019 ride took on more focus towards mental health. The one thing I asked of the Cambridge ride last year was to go a step further, not merely to make a vague offer of ‘being there’, but to specifically go to one person and promise to be their safety net. It’s easy just to offer support – it’s a fantastic virtue signal about which you can feel comfortable. 
But how many of us have taken action and proactively made sure that our best friend, or someone close who needs support, knows they’ve got us there, a safe pair of hands ready to catch them?"

The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride takes place on Sunday 27th September as a solo ride. For more information and to take part, head to: www.gentlemansride.com