Staff take on challenges to support Woodcraft Folk

Thursday, 30 October 2014


The Folk Office Challenge 2014

Earlier this year Woodcraft Folk members of staff took on fundraising challenges to support the movement.

Chloe, Debs, Jon, Leanne and Sarah all made a pledge to raise as much money as they could to support the work of our young people and dedicated volunteers and in total they raised:


Read their stories:


Chloe Darlington (Former Tree Staff Member) 

If you're going to jump out of a plane with anyone, give Leanne Powell a call. You need to arrive early to get in the queue, and

 most of your day is going to be spent hanging out next to the landing field watching other people alight on the grass in their parachutes. So you'll want to be in good company - and probably with someone who is excited / scared about doing the jump so you don't forget what a unique, scary, one-off thing you're about to do. Leanne was great company for the day.

The flight up to 13,000 feet is just long enough for an entertaining chat with the professional skydivers you're attached to - pretty effective at distracting you from working out why you're about to jump out of a functioning plane so high above the earth (as well as a chance to explain Woodcraft Folk) - and the jump itself, of course, is only a few minutes, so watch out for every moment as it comes. Leanne shrieked as she left the plane, so I knew how utterly strange it was going to be throwing myself out...

It's great. It's like nothing else; a few moments of being suspended above everything you know but somehow long enough to reflect on the world and life and what you want to do when you're next in it. Once your parachute opens and the rush of air and speed and the strangeness of the freefall has passed, it's peaceful and calm. But don't shut out the first terrifying seconds of falling, with nothing apparently between you and the crushing ground: these are a few exhilarating seconds that surpass everything you can experience on the ground and they're really thrilling. As I was falling my tandem skydiver pointed out Leanne falling safely and happily nearby - what an amazing way to spot a friend, floating around thousands of feet above the fields!

Leanne Powell (Membership & Groups Officer) 

Waking up at 4:30am to make my journey to the town of March I was feeling really nervous. Butterflies in my stomach I began to question why I was undertaking this challenge especially with a fear of flying. However meeting Chloe and her parents at the train station was a massive relief as I could finally vent my anxieties with someone who was in the same position as myself.

We arrived at the Skydive centre, filled in our paper work and then had an anxious 3 hour wait until our jump. During this time we observed the first divers jumping out of the plane. I remember enjoying seeing their parachutes opening up in the blue sky making me even more determined to get up there and do it!!

Getting on the plane was the easy bit, take off was pretty simple (even with the door of the plane open during most of our ascent and me sat right next to it) and then it was my time to jump. Our tandem instructors were really nice and encouraging though I was mute with fear for most of the flight. Chloe however looked very relaxed as though she was off on holiday. I approached the door and began to scream so much I actually don’t remember making the leap. However once the cool air hit my face I opened my eyes and it was AMAZING!! The exhilarating free fall was the best bit I didn’t want it to end. The parachute eventually opened and I was brought down to the ground at a leisurely speed.

I would definitely recommend everyone doing a parachute jump and if you’re as lucky as me to do it with someone as lovely as Chloe you will enjoy it even more. Jumping out of a plane was one of the most positive things I’ve done all year and has even cured me of my fear of flying.

I can’t wait for our next Folk Office Challenge roll on 2015!!

20 Mile Walk

Sarah McDonell (Office & Office Volunteer Coordinator)

On a hot July day, I set off with the guidance of friends from the LDWA (Long distance walkers association) to walk 20 miles from Seaford around the stunning Cuckmere Valley, taking in the beautiful Sussex coastline.

Normally a good multitasker I soon realised that talking, walking, inclines & breathing could not all be achieved at the same time so I choose to stick to breathing as a first priority, walking as a second and engaging in conversation whilst going downhill only!

A pub lunch after 14 miles in the pretty village of Alfriston was a welcome opportunity to take off shoes & socks and lay on the grass! Joined by my dad, step mum & sister, with my step mum & sister joining me for the last 6 miles. You maybe fouled into believing this sounds like a nice day out and wondering why you handed over your hard earned sponsorship, but whilst talking to fellow walkers about their past experiences, which ranged from 70 mile walks to trekking in Nepal I soon realised my practices round London parks didn't really cut the mustard. With the combination of the heat, the pace (not leisurely!) of the walk & the variable terrain there were times where I felt I had bitten off more than I could chew. But determined to finish I marched on and made it to the end.

It was a great day, I met some lovely people who I got to tell all about Woodcraft, and I will definitely do more walks in the future and better still raising money for Woodcraft Folk, what a great way to spend a day.

Robin Hood Half Marathon 

Debs McCahon (Development Director) 

In January 2014 I signed up for the Robin Hood Half Marathon, having not completed a race for 25 years and never having run more than 3 miles. It was a challenge, which I hoped all could recognise and many would be inspired to respond to my efforts by contributing to Woodcraft Folk activities. The event itself was hot, long and at 7 miles I seriously questioned why I was doing this, but knew my challenge had to be tough and I thought of every penny and every pound as I kept putting each foot forward. I did it, largely with a smile on my face, and have already signed up to my next challenge - the Stilton Stumble. If you would like to donate go to


London Nocturne Folding Bike Race

Jon Nott (General Secretary) 

I'm a fairweather cyclist at best these days. My Brompton spends far too much time in the garage and not enough time ferrying me to and from work. On those days when I do cycle to work, I pass through London's Smithfield Market which, every June, is the venue for the London Nocturne cycle races. As well as the pro races featuring the elite cyclists you see on the telly, there are a number of novelty races, including a Penny Farthing race, a celebrity race on TfL hire-bikes, and the Brompton folding bike race, which is open to all-comers.

Inspired by the challenges my colleagues were undertaking, I entered my first ever competitive bike race. After the Le Mans style start, where we had to race 20 yards to our folded bikes, assemble them and head off, I was already close the rear of the field, though my unfolding skills were (much to my surprise) better than some entrants.

I quickly learned that cycling to work on some of the roads that made up the course was not a suitable preparation for navigating the circuit at "race speed". I lost an awful lot of momentum on the corners and, if I take part again, I'll be spending more time practising taking a racing line at speed and less time worrying about how quickly I can unfold my bike. 

Anyway, I achieved my aim of making it round the course in one piece and the crowd cheered me generously as I brought up the rear, having been lapped by the leading riders. Thanks again to those who sponsored me.