TJX has been the main corporate supporter of Comic Relief for over 10 years and over that time has raised more than £10m for the charity which helps children in the UK and Africa.
What follows was written by Grant Groome, buying director VP at TJX Europe (TK Maxx & Homesense).
This year, some of the directors and buying managers, as well as associates from the DCs in Wallsal and Stoke wanted to do something, not just ‘funny for money’, but extraordinary; so Sahara here we come.
103km to walk across the extreme terrain of the desert, camping under the most amazing blanket of stars, and with only a ‘sand loo’ and bucket of water for a shower; this was going to be both physically and mentally challenging.
On day one we had a massive sand storm which blew sand into every place imaginable. We covered 18km, but this was a hard day of walking through head-on, high winds. Overnight we suffered torrential rain and the tent nearly collapsed. Unrefreshed the next day, we headed through a rocky canyon on one of our longest walking days. The luna landscape was amazing, but really hard to walk through as you had to place every foot carefully so as not to injure your ankles. Exhausted, we ambled into camp eight hours later but had another night of heavy rain. It never occurred to me that it would rain in the desert!
The next day was the longest, walking through blistering heat of over 40 degrees-centigrade, across mud pools created by the melting snow in the High Atlas mountains; so we were walking and leaping across the desert that day. However, we were rewarded with the most beautiful ‘red sky at night’ sunset.
By then the team was tired, sunburnt and weary. I had blisters on both feet and an ulcerated heel, others had bad sun burn down the back of their legs, and one had very bad little toes. But we plodded on, one more day, another 18kms to walk. We walked through a nomad village and visited a school of local children, which was a wonderful experience; they were so smiley and friendly, and happy to practice their English.
We crossed the finish line at 3pm on the Thursday; 103kms, five days of walking, and £25,000 raised for Comic Relief.
I feel truly proud of the personal effort put in by the 17 associates who walked across the Sahara and raised so much money by doing something truly extraordinary. I would also like to thank those toy suppliers to TJX who supported me though this challenge.
If you would like to receive the latest toy trade news straight to your inbox, please enter your email address in the subscribe box above; you can also follow Toy World on Twitter and Facebook and request a print subscription here.