Why money really will grow on trees

A man is preparing to spend five days cut off from civilisation in a forest surviving off only his wits to raise money for a good cause.

Andy Balham

A man is preparing to spend five days cut off from civilisation in a forest surviving off only his wits to raise money for a good cause.

And Andy Balman's challenge to spend a week in the wilds of Kielder Forest was made even more difficult just over a month ago, when he discovered he was diabetic.

Mr Balman, who is managing director of the Biscuit Factory art gallery in Newcastle, said taking up the challenge had been something of a spur of the moment decision. "I received an email about four months ago from the Anthony Nolan Trust about the mystery survival challenge," he said.

"With this sort of thing, you can either think it through too much and decide not to, or just decide that you are going to go for it - and that is what I have done."

Mr Balman, who will be undertaking the challenge with about 12 other people from different parts of the UK, will not find out where exactly he is being taken until he arrives in Bellingham for the challenge today.

Even then, the group will be driven in a bus with blacked out windows, giving them no idea as to their whereabouts for the rest of the week.

Mr Balman, 49, of Wylam, said: "It is all very mysterious and all I know is it's somewhere in Kielder.

"I am looking forward to it but with a little bit of trepidation."

The group will be given nothing but basic rations to survive, and the first challenge will be to build a shelter to live in for the five days.

Mr Balman said he had received a lot of support from his partner Dawn Williams, and his three daughters, Martha, 17, Ruby, 14, and Molly, 11.

He added that even being diagnosed as diabetic would not put him off. "The only way I wouldn't have done it was if the doctor said it was a bad idea, and that wasn't the case.

"It is one of those things and I have probably had it for a while but it wasn't going to stop me doing the challenge."

Anyone wishing to sponsor Mr Balman, who has set himself a target of £2,000, can do so at www.justgiving.com/andybalman


Join the register in Josie's memory

The Journal is urging readers to join the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register as part of our Join for Josie campaign.

We launched the drive after the death of 16-year-old Josie Grove, of Corbridge, Northumberland, a month ago.

The former Queen Elizabeth High School, Hexham, pupil lost her battle against leukaemia after giving up further hospital treatment to spend her remaining time with her family.

You only need to give a teaspoon of blood to join the register. If you become a match for one of the 7,000 people who need a transplant, the procedure is as simple as giving blood.

A special email address has been set up on the Anthony Nolan Trust's bone marrow register in Josie's memory - josie@anthonynolan.org.uk

The donor hotline is 0901 882-2234.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer