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The MedSteps2016 Challenge is an annual charity event organised by members of the Gibraltar Prison Service to raise money for Cancer Relief. This year was its second year and the idea is that those taking part climb the steps (meaning they do the circuit of going up the steps then back down the road to the start) five times. Each time a lap is completed the climber gets a CR stamp on a wristband they had been issued. Everyone taking part pays £10 which is how the cash is raised for Cancer Relief.
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For weeks before I flew out to Gibraltar I’d been reading on social media about how people were preparing for the event. Awards for the best individual, the best team and the best effort were to be given and so many people were practicing the course in their spare time to improve their performance. Not wanting to show-up any of these fit dudes with my own speed and stamina (yeah right) I made the decision weeks before the event that I would only be doing one circuit (slowly) and that I would use the opportunity to view my old friend (the Rock); I would also take some snazzy photos. Actually apart from the fact that I couldn’t remember how long or how difficult the challenge was I’m not sure my knees would have gone round more than once anyway but after paying my tenner and being given my wrist band I was happy enough to just take part.


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Although I wasn’t quite sure what I was in for I eventually set off and (as I did) one of the thoughts going through my mind was a story I had read recently about a young girl with cerebral palsy who had successfully completed the course; if I needed any inspiration at all she was it. But I didn’t need any inspiration at all because from the very first step I was where I wanted to be, on my way up the Rock, on my own, blessed with the time to see, to think and to reflect on all of those things in my mind which now (hopefully) sit at peace within the first two chapters of these memoirs. It wasn’t more than a few minutes after setting off that I found myself looking out at a breath-taking view of Europa Point and so sat down awhile to ponder as I admired it.


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In writing RockHeart I’d hoped to express the very deep affection I have for Gibraltar and from some of the many comments and emails I’ve received I do feel I’ve achieved that in a few quarters. Having said that although we are all British – (something Gibraltar is extremely proud of and protective of) – the people of the Rock are also uniquely Gibraltarian which is a very special identity in its own right and one I wholly admire and endorse. 

Whatever affection I may have for the Rock and her people will never make me Gibraltarian; neither will the fact that I lived there and have a child born there make me Gibraltarian. But to the lovely reader that referred to me as an ‘Honorary Gibbo’ I thank you sincerely (ND) and take the comment as a welcome compliment 🙂 My feelings for the people of the Rock have always been very well documented though I do have days of self doubt when I feel like a gate crasher and so that comment made my day. Thank you.


(Europa Point, Gibraltar from the Med Steps)

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Everyone who did the MedSteps challenge that day had their own reasons and agendas for doing so. As I looked out over Europa point and the African continent my own reasons were becoming more and more clear. I wondered if I would ever sit in this place again.

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