Ed Jackson sits down with the RPA to talk us through his latest challenge. The former Dragons, Wasps, London Welsh and Bath forward has launched the M2M Group in an effort to raise £250,000 to build a spinal unit in Nepal.
Where did the idea come from to launch the M2M Group?
I was trying to explain it to somebody the other day and I realised, when you’re involved in the whole process, it seems obvious, but then trying to explain it, there’s so many different angles. Initially I guess it started when I was in hospital, lying in intensive care. I was obviously restricted in my movement and to me that was very frustrating. It means everyone was doing everything for me, and I felt useless and unhelpful. While I was still in hospital, I was approached by a charity called Neverest Orthopeadics. A former teammate’s father had worked with them for years and thought I might be interested in their latest endeavour. They had been doing incredible relief work in Nepal following the devastating earthquake in 2015. They built an orphanage and a girls’ school and their next project was to build a spinal unit and asked me if I wanted to be involved in fundraising. I thought to myself ‘Nepal, that’s really cool, it’s spinal stuff, yeah why not’. Suddenly, it felt like I could do something productive and have a purpose. Even it was just to help fundraise from a distance, that gave me a new motivation.
18 months following my accident, I visited Nepal with the charity and the experience blew me away. We went to a spinal unit in Kathmandu which is completely backed by fundraisers and local businesses. It was an incredible insight into what could be built, even with little or no financial support from the Nepalese government.
On the plane home I remember thinking to myself, I need to do everything in my power to help the charity raise the £250,000 required to build the spinal unit.
Once back in the UK I rang a group of former teammates who I knew would be interested in helping me out. I also spoke to the team at the RPA and Restart to start formulising a plan of action.
The guys I spoke to were all recently retired, some of whom were struggling with their transition, were a bit lost and not entirely sure what they wanted to do. They were all working in their different directions, but I was like ‘right, let’s get together as a team, here’s the target, let’s see if we can do it’. It felt like we were part of a team again, working towards a goal.
As talks developed the M2M Group was devised. A non-profit events company set up by former players to run unique events in support of causes close to our hearts. M2M stands for ‘Millimetres to Mountains’, signifying that to overcome any of life's challenges you have to start small but dream big.
How are you aiming to raise the £250,000?
Our aim is to raise the money through an exciting series of fundraising events over the next year culminating in an epic 18-day attempt to summit a 6,500m Himalayan peak in November 2019.
We’ve already had one of our big fundraising climbs in Italy in June. Our aim was to summit the 4,000m Gran Paradiso but unfortunately due to adverse weather conditions we had to cancel the climb half-way through. It was disappointing but it was still a challenging and enjoyable experience with a great group of people.
Our goal at M2M is to inspire people who are struggling in their lives or are finding their transition difficult, to come together as a group of people, fundraise, raise awareness for two very important charities in Neverest and Restart, and complete an incredible challenge.
How can players become involved with one of your challenges?
We would love to have as many players involved in our challenges as possible. If you’re reading this interview and would like to sign-up and be part of something special, please get in touch. You can visit our website: www.them2mgroup.com to learn more about what we are aiming to do, the events and challenges we have on offer, and the ways you can get involved. You can also speak to the RPA or Restart who will put you in touch with my team. Ultimately if we can start building a strong, committed group of people, who want to do everything they can to raise the money, then that would be a fantastic result.
What would it mean to you to raise the £250,000?
It’s hard to know how I will feel to be honest. I think it would mean more than words can describe. I would love to have the opportunity to head back to Nepal and cut the ribbon on a new spinal unit as a group. It’s not about me, it’s about achieving something incredible as a group of people and hopefully making a huge difference to those who are suffering with spinal problems. Throughout my recovery I have been blessed by the instrumental support of the rugby community, everything Restart has done for me has been enormous. But now it’s about giving back and hopefully inspiring other people to work together and do something very special. There’s no doubt £250,000 is a massive amount of money, but it’s not when you consider what that money can build in Nepal. It has the potential to change at least 80 families’ lives forever. I feel that’s a small price to pay to make an enormous difference.
To become involved with Ed’s fundraising events or challenges please visit: www.them2mgroup.com or speak to your RPA Development Manager.