Phil Vickery looks set to turn his considerable talents to raising money for Wooden Spoon…and wants you to join him!
Although Phil Vickery may have retired from the rugby, it now means that he's got more time for Wooden Spoon challenges!
The 35-year-old former England captain and British and Irish Lions star is a legend of the game: having played at Gloucester for 11 years before signing a three year deal with London Wasps. However, after four neck operations Phil suffered another neck injury and, after medical advice, retired from the game in September 2010.
The winning mentality that Phil showed on the field has not abated since he has been off it - he won MasterChef in 2010; he's been commentating on the World Cup and the Aviva Premiership; and he took part in the 2011 Great Britain Bike Ride where he raised money for Wooden Spoon
Not one to sit on his laurels, Phil is looking to add to his cycle feats and take part in not one but two of Wooden Spoon's challenges in 2012.
First up for Phil is the Four Peaks challenge which is Spoon's most popular team challenge event and sees teams of three, plus a support driver, take on Ben Nevis, Helvellyn, Snowdon and Carantouhill - all in under 48 hours.
"Although I'm the sacrificial lamb I'm actually really looking forward to the challenge and raising some more money for Wooden Spoon," said the man known as Raging Bull.
"The Four Peaks is something that I wanted to do last year but the timing was off and I couldn't do it. I've heard a lot of great things about it. It's a really tough challenge but the buzz and camaraderie is superb - I'm always up for a challenge.
Phil will be running up and down the four peaks alongside his team-mates, and while he is yet to meet them or the driver who will whisk them around, he has had some advice from some Four Peak 'veterans.
"I'm not a hundred percent sure who's in my team but I've had a chat with Gareth Chilcott and Jason Leonard (both of whom have been drivers in previous Four Peaks events) and they have told me that the driver is the key to success!
The 6ft 3in, 19st 9lb Cornishman admits that he is not exactly built for running up and down mountains but says that the sense of achievement and the chance to make a difference should get us all signing up.
"I'm not a great runner or a great cyclist but I enjoy a challenge and will give most things a go. I must admit that when I'm in the middle of these sorts of challenges I don't always enjoy it but when you get to the end the sense of achievement stays with you forever. It doesn't matter if you've raised £50, £5,000 or £50,000 you've managed to make a difference by putting yourself through a little bit of discomfort for someone else's benefit. That's what charity work is all about."
Two months after the Four Peaks challenge, Jason and Gareth's driving advice will definitely come into its own when Phil will be the 'key man' in the Great Lakeland Challenge
Phil will need to call on all his England leadership skills as he guides his three team members through what is arguably Spoon's toughest challenge: canoeing England's longest lake; cycling up the two steepest passes in England, Wrynose and Hardknott; and then conquering, on foot, England's highest peak, Scaffell Pike - all in under 12 hours.
Encouraging more people to take part is important to the former England skipper and he is keen to stress that you don't have to be a super athlete to take part.
"Hopefully I'll inspire other people to do it - if I can do it then anyone can!
"After three back operations, two shoulder ops and a disc replacement in my neck canoeing, cycling and running are not exactly the best for me. But I have to get my head down and get on with it
"Everyone is there for different reasons and at different stages. Last year it took some of the guys only four hours to do the bike stages each day - whilst it was taking me 10 hours plus. But there's no looking down on people or anything like that. It's about setting your own personal goals and achieving them while at the same time raising money. I think people look at things like the Four Peaks and the Lakeland challenge and think they can't do them - but with me it's about just being there and taking part. It's not about trying to be a super star and beating everyone, it's about making an effort to be there and to participate
"Come along, have a good time, make some friends and you will find yourself part of something very special. When you go and see these projects and see what a difference your money has made, then it puts everything in perspective and makes you realise just how enjoyable it is. It's a privilege to raise money that's going to have a positive impact on someone's life
"Yes Wooden Spoon is a rugby charity but it crosses over so many boundaries and there is something for everyone. You're as important as anyone else and we can all make a difference."
To join Phil on the Four Peaks Challenge or the Great Lakeland Challenge please contact the challenge office on 01283 841 600.