4 May 2018
This year’s Woldingham School Dineen lecture was given by Pedal the Pond, a group of friends who crossed the Atlantic in a custom-built pedalo to raise money for, and awareness of, mental health issues.
Max, Hector and Henry amazed and amused students and staff with tales of their 40-day crossing from Gran Canaria to Antigua. Their many highs of the trip included sunsets, time to think and being at one with nature. Understandable lows were bad weather, monotonous food, technical problems and lack of sleep. Everyone had their own personal lows as well, but they helped each other out and got through them as a team.
Stressing the importance of planning and preparation, the team described getting the necessary sponsorship as the toughest thing they did. This alone took about a year and 80% of their efforts fell on deaf ears. But they stuck at it, learned from their mistakes and were successful in getting the funding they needed.
To date Pedal the Pond have raised £190,000 for the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, including £1,530 from the Woldingham Parents and Staff Association (WPSA). Impressive as this is, they said that almost more important is the raising of awareness and the breaking down of barriers to talking about mental health. They impressed upon everyone present the importance of voicing your feelings if you feel down – and being ready to listen to others who need to talk.
Chair of WPSA, Francesca O’Keeffe, commented:
“The Dineen Lecture is financed by a gift from parents following Dr Dineen’s retirement as Headmistress of Woldingham in 1997. It was her wish that an annual lecture be delivered by a notable person, or persons, whose personality and achievements can provide inspiration to the girls. The Pedal the Pond team could not have fitted that description more perfectly; their commitment to raising awareness of mental health made a huge and lasting impression on our Woldingham community.”