On November 28th I reached my 49th birthday and two days later on November 30th the man I regarded as my Dad, Dan Wilkes, passed away after a short but brave battle with cancer.

Dan came into my life when I was 12 years of age, when he married my Mum, Beryl. As well as me, Dan also took on my two brothers Iain and Keith.

Not having had children before, Dan wasn’t fazed by suddenly having three adolescent boys to look after with my Mum. He took on the “job” calmly and became a guiding light in our  lives for 37 eventful but happy years. During that time, I came to regard Dan as my Dad, not my Stepdad because of the love and respect I had for him and that he, in turn,  had shown to my Mum, myself  and my brothers.

In April 2015, Dan & Mum shared a joint dinner party to celebrate their respective 90th & 80th birthdays. Dan, a quiet man, surprised us all by standing up and making a short but funny speech! He finished off by saying he hoped to see everyone back to celebrate his and Mum’s birthdays in 10 years time!

Unfortunately, that was a wish that was to be very short-lived.

On October 23rd, having only had symptoms for four weeks, Dan was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the bile duct, liver and lung.  He was referred to the Palliative Care Team at George Thomas Hospice Care.

The advice, care and support that he and our family received from the charity helped us all to try and come to terms with the diagnosis.

We all knew that the Hospice Care Team were available if needed for advice or support.

In Dan's final few days the support from the George Thomas team increased which helped to ease the burden of this terrible condition.

Five weeks after his diagnosis and only ten weeks after he and Mum had been on holiday in France, Dan passed away quietly with us at his bedside.

In memory of Dan, who was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather I decided to dedicate the year until my 50th birthday to raise money for George Thomas Hospice Care and hopefully highlight the excellent work that the GTHC team undertake. To do this, I planned to complete a list of 50 activities before my 50th birthday on November 28th 2016. In doing so, I hoped to raise at least £1000 for this charity.

My activities began in January 2016 with the challenge of eating a Pot Noodle-something I had managed to avoid for 49 years! I was kindly given three different flavoured pots! To help me choose which flavour to try I set up a vote on Facebook and Twitter. The winner was Chicken & Mushroom and it definitely made me realise how lucky I had been to have avoided them for 49 years!!

As someone who has discovered triathlons in later life a number of my activities have involved swimming (Swim to Church Rock, Swim in Cardiff International Pool), cycling (cycle up the Bwlch) and running (Run all the Parkruns in Wales, run Cardiff Half Marathon course) and indeed,  all three in one go (IM 70.3 Weymouth).

My proudest achievement this year (apart from giving the Father of the Bride speech), has been the Mile of Pennies for GTHC.

In January, I had some stickers printed and asked family, friends, work colleagues and followers on Facebook and Twitter if they would help me collect enough pennies to make a mile-84,480! I think many thought I was mad and wondered if it was going to be possible!

I have been amazed, all year, by people’s willingness to help and collect and donate their pennies. With the help and support of Christine and the rest of the staff at GTHC the total was reached and exceeded in advance of the date set to lay the pennies, October 29th.

On a damp day, 32 family and friends and volunteers from the Hospice all came together to layout the pennies to make a Mile! Four and a half hours later the pennies were all down. Various displays and works of art were created and more importantly £1,320.37 was raised in memory of Dan.

As I write this, I have ten activities left to complete before November 28th. I am determined to complete them and to make this first year since Dan died, one that will have created some happy memories, raised awareness of the work of George Thomas Hospice, maybe inspired some people to do something special in memory of a loved one, and to raise vital funds to help keep the work of the Hospice going.

My Mum, my brothers and I, along with our families all miss Dan so much but know that he would be proud to know that vital monies were being donated to George Thomas Hospice Care  in his name.

Here is my list. #50before50

    • 1966 miles swim bike turbo run or walk by November 28th 2016
    • Climb Snowdon-completed
    • Climb Pen y fan-completed
    • Climb Cader Idris-completed
    • Cycle up the Bwlch
    • Complete Ironman 70.3 Weymouth triathlon-completed
    • Visit Caldy-not completed due to bad weather
    • Visit Skomer-not completed due to bad weather
    • Visit Pembroke Castle-completed
    • Walk 50miles of the Pembrokeshire coastal path
    • Grow Sweet Peas-completed
    • Visit Whistler-completed
    • Visit Butchard Gardens-completed
    • See a Brown Bear in the wild-completed
    • Revisit Victoria BC-completed
    • Swim in the Pacific-completed
    • Ice block on Vancouver Island again-completed
    • Stay off Facebook for a week-completed
    • Write a message in a bottle-completed
    • Play Rat Tat Ginger but leave a present on doorstep-completed
    • Skinny Dip!-completed
    • Make a loaf of bread without breadmaker- completed
    • Make a curry from scratch
    • Take my Cycling Proficiency Test-completed
    • Go camping as a family for the weekend-completed
    • Have a BBQ in the garden-completed
    • Send a message attached to a balloon-completed
    • Host a 70s dinner party-completed
    • Run Cardiff Half for GTHC-completed
    • Visit the Senedd-completed
    • Run all the Parkruns in Wales
    • Revisit Stanage Edge with Catrin-completed
    • Swim at Cardiff International Pool-completed
    • Eat a pot noodle -completed
    • Swim to Church Rock -completed
    • Be able to do 50 press ups by my 50th birthday
    • Go for a pint and curry with Iain & Keith -completed
    • Have a go at October Jones art -completed
    • Catrin idea-Go on a gondola up Sulphur Mountain -completed
    • Carys idea-Father of the Bride speech -completed
    • Alex idea-compete in ADW Triathlon -completed
    • Lewys idea-abseil down Pembroke Castle Keep-completed
    • Post a 50th birthday card and ask each person who receives it to post it to another and then the 49th person posts it back to me! If it arrives back by my 50th I will donate £50 to George Thomas Hospice Care.-completed
    • Collect a mile of pennies -completed
    • Go on Megaphobia again -completed
    • Go to Live Lounge -completed
    • Visit the White Water Centre, Cardiff -completed
    • Take a trip to London with Catrin -completed
    • Revisit Frampton-On-Severn -completed
    • Take a photo of each activity