Adventure legacy lives on 

A group of intrepid pals are taking on a skating mission to remember their best friends.
You get the distinct impression, by talking to their friends, that Wayne Phillips and James Rush would have whole-heartedly approved.
The idea that six of their best friends – Matthew Gilbert, Craig Salisbury, Gavin Rogers, Kyle Harvey, Mark Roberts and Joshua Land – would be skateboarding coast-to-coast across Wales on an 250-mile intrepid journey, soaking up the great outdoors and taking in the stunning Welsh scenery, sounds like a dream challenge.
And as the adventurous sextet make their way from Barry Island to Anglesey, Wayne and James will never be far from their thoughts, very much part of the journey which starts on September 1.
Tragically, Wayne and James both passed away as a result of brain tumours, receiving end of life care from the team at Nightingale House, which supports families in locations of Shropshire such as Oswestry and Whitchurch.
But as their friends step up preparations for their mission, the pair will be very much a part of the journey, which starts on September 1.
They were, after all, an inspirational duo, who were full of adventure themselves.
“They loved their hiking, walking, canoeing, getting up mountains,” Craig reflects.

“They were very kind and considerate people, with great energy and a good aura about them. Being around them was infectious and they made you want to do more and be like them.

“They showed us a different way, not just sitting in pubs, getting drunk, but getting into the great outdoors. It was terrible losing both of them so, all of these adventurous things we do now, are in memory of them.”
The challenge will take the team through the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park, along the fabulous Welsh coastline and into Eryri National Park.
“It will be tough, beautiful and inspirational, the three strong characteristics of both Wayne and James,” said Gilbert – which he calls himself rather than Matthew. “As Craig says, they were both fantastic people.”
“Wayne, by nature, was one of the most thoughtful, kind and generous people you could meet. He was also a trailblazer in health, wellbeing and fitness – a traveller and a family man. He treated everybody equally, always listening, giving his time and his smile.
“Likewise, James had this ‘go get it’ attitude to life. He was also an adventure enthusiast, always pushing his limits, working and playing in nature.
“A good listener, he had a beautiful calmness and fitted seamlessly into any situation. We miss them both every single day.”
It seems fitting then that the group have decided on such an adventure to help raise for charity and the idea was born after an action-packed week away.
“The idea came about because our group tend to go off camping and try and stay in nature,” Craig said. “We like activities, we are very active and we were coming back from a week in Morocco, surfing. On the plane back home, we got talking and the idea organically happened.
“Someone said ‘let’s try a new challenge and skateboard the length of Wales’ and the whole idea grew legs really quickly from there to be honest.”
Now the team are in training and, for an active group, it’s not as easy as you’d think.
Craig and Gilbert have limited skateboard experience, while the others have none.
“We are the kind of lads who will give anything a go but we are called the unskateables for a reason. We are not skaters at all.
“Craig and I are very rusty on our skateboards and most of the lads have only just got their skateboards and are learning as we go along!
“But we were all keen to do it. There might have been a little apprehension, but we have just embraced it now.
“We want to pick up the skills and improve along the way, hopefully spreading some joy along the way.
“We have got a lot of practice to do such as skateboarding at night, with our head lamps and torches and we have to get used to busy roads and traffic.

“It’s been good fun practising. People are loving the videos we are doing. There have been some comical moments and mis-haps while training.
“We are getting out there and training and it’s creating a nice vibe and we are all proud of what we are doing.”
Gilbert added that the challenge has helped strengthen the bond the group have, one of close friendship and shared sadness at the loss of their mates.
“It is bringing us all closer together,” he said.
“Our team meetings, skate sessions and trips are dominated by discussions of past and present adventures.
“Old memories have been revisited, where both Wayne and James come into the conversations, keeping their spirit alive within the group.
“We smile more, laugh more, play more and are inspired by their presence and energy. 
“We certainly feel, when we are on the journey, as though they will be with us.”
“During those tough hours of darkness, in classic Welsh weather with wind and rain, I am sure they will be with us and what extra motivation will we need?”
And, in the process, the team want to raise much-needed funds for Nightingale House Hospice. It costs more than £4,580,000 each year to run the hospice.
Most of its running costs are met through fundraising and other channels of income generation which includes its on-site café and retail outlets that make a significant contribution towards maintaining services for those with life-limiting illnesses within palliative care.
Services are completely free-of-charge to patients and their families across our catchment area stretching from Wrexham, Flintshire to Oswestry and Whitchurch.
Services are available to everyone in its’ catchment area living with a life-limiting illness and so far the Unskateables have brought in more than £2000 and have set a target of £10,000.
“Raising money for Nightingale House was the obvious choice, a no-brainer, due to the outstanding work they do, day in day out,” Gilbert adds.
“The care and support Wayne and James received from the hospice touched everyone of us and we want to try and give back.
“We have all been touched by the incredible work they do and want to try and support them.
“So we are determined to take on this challenge. It won’t be easy.
“We are going to need some endurance behind us so we are trying to keep fit and getting out as much out of training as possible really.

“Ultimately, we want to leave a bit of a legacy for the guys.”


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