On the 23rd April 2017 I will once again be dragging my massage couch through St James Park to set up in a gazebo and prepare to treat a group of charity runners at the London Marathon. I've done this for the last 5 years and always as an unpaid volunteer.
Each year I see offers of 'paid work' but for me it's become somehow important that I give up my time for free. Each runner I treat has put themselves through some sort of training programme that has resulted in them just having run 26 miles. It might have taken them anything from 4 to 6 hours to complete the course. They've done it to raise money, often for a cause close to their hearts because of family loss or circumstances or experience.
Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with people getting paid to do what I choose to do for free. It is, after all, my choice. It doesn't make me or them better. It's a choice. I do get a bit annoyed when I discover that having volunteered some pull out of the volunteer role because a paid role has come along. That leaves the charity looking for volunteers in the difficult position of casting around for last minute replacements, and quite frankly I find that unacceptable.
This year I'm working with Against Breast Cancer again. We'll be somewhere in St James Park and I'm not sure how many runners they have in this year's event and how many will come for a post-event massage, but we'll be there, ready and waiting.
And if your chosen charity hasn't got post-event massage available and you fancy a 10 minute rub-down, then why not come and find me and I'll see what I can do.