I always find the New Year a great time for creativity and planning more unusual and unconventional challenges for the year ahead. Last year over dinner with a group of friends, I committed to my Barefoot Challenge which culminated in a Barefoot 10K Run in Battersea Park and getting my name in the Guinness Book of World Records with fellow Barefoot Runners. This year dinner with the same friends resulted in planning several more unusual challenges; the first being rediscovering my ‘dark side’.
I recently saw a TV advert by WWF asking people to sponsor the Snow Leopard. As an Ambassador for World Animal Day, it caught my eye and got me musing about a leopard changing its spots. I discussed this and various relevant fundraising options with my dinner-friends and before the main course was cleared, I had committed to changing my hair colour to raise money and awareness for WWF/World Animal Day. Now before you dismiss this as not being a dangerous sport or a particularly knee-knocking challenge, just think for a minute – would you dye your hair to change your look? Really? Even if it was your ‘trademark’ and if it had become your identity?
I am reasonably well known as a blonde; it has worked well for me for 25 years (no, I’m not a natural blonde; when people call me a dumb blonde I pay no attention – I know I’m not dumb and I know I’m not blonde.) Anyway as I was saying, being blonde has worked well for me in the predominantly male working environment of landscaping and even in media and TV. And I’m about to risk changing all that.
Next week I will be going down to Lucy Hockey’s Hair Studio in Abergavenny and going dark! Yes, I am nervous. Probably even more nervous than when I did the parachute jump and the wing walk. They are different nerves. Jumping out of a plane, or even being strapped to one, requires a certain type of courage that is ignited and fuelled by adrenalin. And even Howard Marks recently admitted to me that his Live Shows provide him with the adrenalin fix that he needs. Changing your personal appearance requires courage without the aid of adrenalin and that just makes it all the more uncomfortable. It’s completely psychological but then often the biggest challenges are.
I have worked a lot with Joe Calzaghe for Beat Bullying as I was bullied at school, simply for being who I was. Dying my hair was no doubt an attempt to become someone else and provide a little bit of an ‘alter ego’. And it has served my ego well. But now it is time for authenticity. As Jonathan Cainer told me, 2012 would bring big changes for us all, as we discovered new ways of doing things and embraced our authentic selves. Nice one Jonathan!
It so happens that WWF are currently running a fabulous campaign ‘The Panda Made Me Do It’ … which encourages people to share the fun-fundraising events that ‘The Panda Made Them Do!’ See more at www.wwf.org.uk/how_you_can_help/the_panda_made_me_do_it Therefore when my nerves get the better of me and I doubt my ability or courage to make such a big personal change, I can absolve myself of all responsibility and categorically blame the Panda (your Honour). Win win!