Ryan’s fundraising story: One Year No Beer

Ryan | December 2021 | 9 minutes

In this blog, Ryan explains how the death of a friend inspired him to start a year-long journey of fundraising for Alcohol Change UK.

Normally, when someone mentions ‘alcohol addiction’, you might think of the stereotypical person on the street with a bottle of cider or the old man sat at home chugging on a bottle of whiskey for breakfast. Martin was so far from this.

He was an electrician by trade and went on to work as a project engineer. Even though he was 6’ 4’’ and an avid gym goer, you could always smell Martin before you would see him – he always smelled great! Wherever you went he would always be the good looking one in the room, with the heart and personality to go with it too! Unfortunately, Martin developed an alcohol addiction, and not long after his 30th Birthday lost his battle with alcohol.

"Sometimes it takes a significant event to make you reflect and realise what is happening, and unfortunately the passing of Martin was that event."

Throughout the various lockdowns of 2020, alcohol always seemed to be the constant for me too. Rather than going outside and going for a walk, I’d find myself just finishing work and having a beer. And then another, and another. Then to finish off the evening, several whiskies. Did I need to drink every day? No, but I used alcohol as my release at the end of the day to unwind, and what started as an end of day treat was slowly spiralling into something bigger. Sometimes it takes a significant event to make you reflect and realise what is happening, and unfortunately the passing of Martin was that event.

Most years I do some basic fundraising for charity through the UK Charity All Stars ice hockey tournament. However, through the events of 2020, I realised that my drinking habit was not ‘normal’ and I needed to do something about it. I also felt like it needed to be a serious challenge to push myself and to raise as much money as possible for people that were in the same situation as Martin. That’s when I thought of doing one year without alcohol and my ‘one year no beer’ was born.

" The support for the challenge was overwhelming... it was decided that Alcohol Change UK would be the nominated company charity for 2021."

I started ‘one year no beer’ on 1st January 2021 and, except for my wife, I kept it to myself as I was scared that I wouldn’t stick with it and didn’t want to publicly fail. After a couple of weeks of success, I created my fund-raising page and posted it online with what I thought was an ambitious target of £500. Amazingly this was hit in less than 24 hours, so I raised the bar to £1,000 and this was hit within 72 hours! The support for the challenge was overwhelming and when I spoke about it at work, it was decided that Alcohol Change UK would be the nominated company charity for 2021.

Every year, Assure Consulting take part in a challenge (in the last few years the national 3 peaks, Yorkshire 3 peaks and 6 Dales). This year was probably the hardest one yet: Walking Hadrian’s Wall, starting on a Thursday afternoon in Bowness-on-Solway and finishing on Sunday afternoon in Wallsend. We set off at 5am for the long drive up to Bowness-on-Solway to start the walk, with a tight deadline and a fast pace to keep up with. The first day was a flat 19 miles, followed by 28 miles on Friday, 26 miles Saturday and finally 16 miles on Sunday. A total of 86.6 miles in 27 hours 21 minutes! Needless to say, most of us were walking in a strange way for a few days with sore legs and swollen and blistered feet! I would like to give a special thank you to Lee, Adrian, Tina, Terah, Anne and Harrison for all contributing towards the total through their own fundraising and Assure Consulting for organising the challenge.

"My fundraising isn’t about being anti-alcohol, it’s about alcohol change."

As if I hadn’t put myself through enough, I then agreed to do the Nottingham Tough Runner 10k Trail Run with Martin’s sister, who has also been pushing the fundraising for Alcohol Change UK. For those that don’t know, I am not a runner! I started with the best of intentions, and wanted to train and work my way up to 10k before the event, but it ended up being a 3k and 4k run the week before! Obviously, I didn’t get the quickest time, but I finished it and to make it that bit sweeter, shortly after finishing the race we hit the £5,000 fundraising target!

I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone that has supported me through this. I never in a million years thought I would be here writing this having raised over £5,000 and not had a drink for coming up to a whole year!

My fundraising isn’t about being anti-alcohol, it’s about alcohol change and to help people recognise that it is ok to have a break from alcohol if you feel like you need to.

If you'd like to donate, Ryan's JustGiving page is here. With thanks to Assure Consulting.