Simon's year of the skip helps poor communities spend a penny
Simon Bramwell has literally skipped to the loo – with a 12-month keep-fit marathon to raise funds for lifesaving lavatories overseas.
A Christian father-of-two from New Malden set himself the ambitious target of completing half-a-million skips in a year – after God challenged him about trust. Just 12 days short of his December 31 deadline, he has totted up 500,000 turns of the rope and raised almost £2,000.
Simon, 42, has been raising funds for Toilet Twinning, which helps provide proper loos, clean water and hygiene training in some of the poorest communities in the world. It invites people to ‘twin’ their loo at home with a latrine overseas for a £60 donation, and so sponsor a toilet for a family abroad.
He completed his skipathon at the indoor tennis courts at Reed’s School, Cobham, recently, after skipping on 295 days this year.
"I counted my skips each day and then logged them in a spreadsheet – good mental discipline too," he says. "People will have to trust me on the numbers!"
His regime involved 1,500 skips a day in stints of about 11 minutes. Until July, he was a French teacher and was sometimes seen skipping in the school grounds. On a bad day, he could be skipping at midnight. In July, he skipped in six European countries within 48 hours as the family drove back from his wife Dala’s native Hungary. "I attracted a few strange looks, but nothing new there!"
For Simon, a member of New Malden Baptist Church, the challenge had a spiritual dimension.
"At the end of 2016 I’d felt God prompting me around the idea of 'two halves' and asking me to do my half and let him to the rest. The idea of completing half-a-million skips in 2017 was born and it’s been fun to do something enabling me to combine faith and action."
Another prompt for his skipathon was a six-week visit last year to Madagascar where Dala worked in a mission hospital: Simon describes it as a ‘powerful experience’. He was particularly moved by watching a disabled man with withered legs having to drag himself across the ground, through the dirt, to go to a pit latrine.
"We realised how fundamental it is to have somewhere safe to go to the toilet: it’s something we take for granted," says Simon. "I’d seen Toilet twinning certificates in people’s loos and I liked the idea because there’s something very concrete about funding a toilet. Taking on this challenge was a great opportunity to do something for a good cause and help keep fit into the bargain."
Toilet Twinning CEO Lorraine Kingsley says: "We’ve had people 'running for the loo' and doing squatting competitions in aid of toilets but skipping is a new one on us! Simon’s such a good sport and we’re amazed that he’s sustained his skipping all year. We can honestly say that the toilets he has helped fund will change those families’ lives for ever, so we’re hugely grateful to him."
To sponsor Simon retrospectively, visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SimonBramwellskipathon Find out more at www.toilettwinning.org