I have just received a DVD which was delivered by courier. On the cover it says ‘Era Innocentada 2011’. I couldn’t help but smile. It is one of the best gifts that I’ve been lucky enough to receive this Christmas. Almost immediately memories of the children, who are being cared for by the Himalayan Mountain Foundation thousands of kilometres away, came flooding back to me. They are the reason for battling on and organising events like the last charity race that we held in the Aran Valley.

 What better setting to unwrap the gift than my room at home with the chimney and its warmth. What better way to get my spirits up with than watching images that bring back good memories to me. When I was asked to be a patron of this charitable cross-country ski race, I never imagined that as many as eighty people would come together at the starting line for such a good cause.

The images on the television make me feel warm inside: the mountains, the sun, friends, the smiles on everyone’s’ faces, the great atmosphere… and the children in the Himalayas. It is a touching combination. I only know that I am anxious for next winter to come around so we can organise and participate in the second edition. This type of event provides me with extra strength in order to carry on each day. There is no better excuse for soldiering on.

The video ended. I would have liked to see more, but what I saw was enough to give life some meaning. I am left with the affection of the participants, with their smiles, with their tiredness, with the embrace of a fellow participant at the finish line, with the sincere thoughts of the participants, with the satisfied faces of the organisers. And with my own satisfied face, because in spite of having to wear a vest with number one on it in my capacity as patron, I have to confess that I was just another participant.