Allen’s (Bare) Feat
Not so long ago in a School Governor’s meeting in Hampshire, Allen Watts sat talking to Giving Africa’s CEO Caroline Loden. Allen wanted to commit in some way to a charity and as the conversation continued he realized that he wanted to commit to Giving Africa and the Barefoot Challenge was born. It’s been 6 months since Allen started walking Barefoot to raise awareness and funds for the children at Bethel School and we thought it was high time we asked him how it was all going, how his toes are and has he recovered from an unfortunate altercation with a wasp (he lost).
Q: What has been your highlight so far?
Allen: So far, is the support from children I have met day-to-day. It is truly a great feeling; being able to inspire the young to get involved in doing something for others.
Q: What has made you think twice about the whole affair?
Allen: Winter! But it is a small sacrifice. Whenever I look down and see my barefoot tattoo smiling back up at me reminding me I have to keep going. I will make the year!
Q: What preparations are you making for the winter months?
Allen: I have been trying to pretend it isn’t going to happen! However, it is coming! I am going to zen my way through it and try really hard not to whinge and moan and try even harder not to get frostbite.
Q: What do you wish you hadn’t done barefoot?
Allen: That’s easy. I wish I hadn’t stood on three bits of glass, a staple, a wasp and three dog leavings.
Q: How have you changed your perception of the earth beneath your feet?
Allen: I haven’t changed my perception at all; I have always known how special it is, however, it is a great way to remind yourself and actually appreciate it rather than take it for granted. It really is lovely, if a little spikey and cold.
Q: What benefits have you seen?
Allen: The benefits of raising some money for those children has been fantastic. Of seeing people change their opinions of you. The kids have been amazing with unadulterated support with no judgement. And my blood pressure has gone down.
Q: What tips do you have for the first-time barefooter?
Allen: Be brave! You know you are helping hundreds of children and you are one soul who can be brave. For all the unsupportive comments (for there have been some, alarmingly) there are more supportive comments from people who love you, keep you strong and sponsor you to help those kids.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add Allan?
Allen: So far, I have been to two weddings, sadly two funerals, award ceremonies and job interviews. I have run through stinging nettles and a holly wood. I have been stopped boarding an airplane, been banned from a supermarket, won a prestigious award for Community Hero because of my work with the Barefoot Challenge, been on the telly, met a couple of celebrities. I want to thank my family especially my wife for not moaning about the state of the carpets and my kids for their unending admiration and support. And to Micky, my Dad who has been doing the Barefoot Challenge for two more days than me and he is 66!
Thank you Allen from all of us at Giving Africa – you are definitely putting your best foot forward. Pun intended.