Maybe it’s something about growing up behind the Iron Curtain and learning that you don’t break down barriers without a steely determination that makes me so admire those who go the extra mile to make a difference.
So, you can imagine the joy I felt last Sunday when I was present to welcome home my friend Peter Digby as he and his fellow paratroopers, past present and future ran into the historic Yard at London’s Guildhall, the final stop in their gruelling 150 mile charity run.
These are no ordinary people and this was no ordinary challenge. The able-bodied and wounded participants, supported along the way by their devoted friends, wives and sponsors had set themselves the challenge of running the 150 miles from the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to London drawing a 250kg Aga oven!
The task was ambitious and so too was Peter’s target – his objective was to raise a staggering £50k for the Afghanistan Trust, the charity established in 2007 to provide relief for individuals and families of the Parachute Regiment who sustained considerable losses in action and continue to experience hardship.
Peter, better known as the Aga Man, following his previous charitable jaunts pulling Agatha the Aga and carrying fridges during the London marathon is a serial fundraiser with a heart that extends far beyond a love of white goods.
He is a member of a very rare and special breed, the “get-up and do philanthropists”. His physical strength makes him more likely to want to carry a couch than sit on one when there’s a job to be done. This courage and determination is infectious and forms an enduring bond between Paratroopers. I saw this at first-hand last year when I met 90-year-old war hero John Bosley, the former Paratrooper, linguist and retired policeman at Arnhem.
These qualities are not confined to battle hardened troops. Peter is a former soldier but today, the serving City of London Policeman must rank amongst the most charitable and successful fundraising policemen in the world. His colourful challenges have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds in recent years and his latest endeavour has just broken his £50k target.
Despite our best efforts and good will, it is often easy to overlook those whose great sense of duty means they go the extra mile or 150 miles in this case. But they can be assured their exceptional efforts are not overlooked. In life as in business, we respect and work with those we trust and we can trust those who give everything to make a difference. Peter and the team, we salute you.