Reigate and Redhill YMCA's Ian Burks on his perfect Surrey weekend
PUBLISHED: 15:32 18 May 2012 | UPDATED: 21:24 20 February 2013
The CEO of Reigate and Redhill YMCA for the past 13 years, Ian Burks has walked, climbed, run and cycled many thousands of miles to help raise vital funds.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2012
The CEO of Reigate and Redhill YMCA for the past 13 years, Ian Burks has walked, climbed, run and cycled many thousands of miles to help raise vital funds. Married with three grown-up children, Ian and his family moved from Crouch End in London to Reigate over 11 years ago, and come the weekend, he can often be spotted getting in some training for his next challenge in the lovely local countryside
Weekends are pretty full on. Im either ferrying my kids to and from work, catching up with my wife, who Ive hardly seen all week, keeping up my fitness regime, or fighting back against the endless deluge of paperwork and e-mails.
Between now and September, we also have 11 fundraising events for the YMCA, which all take place over the weekend. These include the Brighton marathon, a trek across the South Downs, a sky dive and a canoe trip down the River Wye. Every year, the YMCA puts together an extensive programme of fully supported challenges, in which anyone can take part (you can find out more at ymcachallenges.org.uk).
Fitness plays an important role in my free time. Depending on the event Im training for, Ill make a point of either going for a long run or putting in some time on my bike. Theres nothing like the breathtaking views from the North Downs to give you an exercise high. Its such a beautiful part of the country.
Im competitive by nature and constantly push myself to improve. The YMCAs Challenge Programme is all about tackling things that seem a bit scary and, as soon as I start thinking, Im not sure I can achieve that, it gives me the incentive to go out and train.
My wife Pam has endured many a bone-shaking mile on the back of our tandem, undertaking road cycle trips to Paris, La Rochelle and Gibraltar, to name just a few more out of support for me than genuine enjoyment! This year, my eldest son, Sam (21), will be raising money for the YMCA by cycling with us to Amsterdam, and Pam and I will get a big kick out of having him as a training partner.
A well-deserved rest
I usually crash out in the evenings but if we do fancy a night out with friends, one of our favourite places to eat is the Everest Spice restaurant in Redhill. Its an easy place to miss as they only have a tiny shop front but the Nepalese food is delicious, and the owner, Rosan, is one of our biggest supporters.
At weekends, I might catch up on the latest release at Reigate cinema. I like inspirational films with real meaning and two of my recent favourites have been 127 Hours and The Iron Lady. I love this cosy, unique local cinema as the manager is passionate about quality films and his enthusiasms contagious!
If you ask Pam, shed say Im pretty work-obsessed but shes learned to live with it and, being an ex-YMCA employee, she totally supports the YMCA and everything it stands for. I keep thinking I should do something about my work/life balance but I enjoy what I do immensely. The opportunity to take on our challenges is one of the perks of my job.
Its so important to raise the money thats needed to benefit some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged young people in our community and it is very satisfying to see the results of those efforts. Last year, we raised 1 million to rebuild the Sovereign Centre in Reigate, creating a specialist facility for local disabled children and young people. Previously, in the east of the county, theres not been enough provision of this type of service and now we can start to redress the balance.
Its also very gratifying to see our Challengers, who perhaps werent previously active, test themselves both physically and emotionally and go on to get fit, have fun, make friends and raise funds to help others. It really can change the lives of all concerned.
- The YMCAs vision is to help all local people, regardless of age or ability, to enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle that challenges them to be the best they can be. To find out more about the Reigate and Redhill YMCAs Challenge Programme, visit www.ymcachallenges.org.uk or e-mail email@example.com.