Our ambassador Darren Ratcliffe has set himself a challenge for 2014 – to do 17 challenges in just 12 months. 6 months in, we thought we’d catch up with him to see how things were going, and exactly why he set himself the challenge.

FM: What does it mean to you to be an ambassador for Forever Manchester?

DR: I’m extremely proud to be an Ambassador of Forever Manchester – it’s one of my proudest achievements!

FM: Why Forever Manchester?

DR: There are lots of reasons why Forever Manchester! I’m a proud Mancunian that loves his city, and I want to see it go from strength to strength – so I love the fact that we concentrate on what’s good in our region and help people do more about it! Equally I am a proud Oldhamer, so the fact that the charity supports work on my doorstep is even better. It’s tangible.

FM: How would you define what Forever Manchester do?

DR: It’s that focus on finding what’s good in areas like Alt, Trafford and St James’ and then helping that happen more. It’s an optimistic and positive approach and helps people who are working hard for the area they live in and love.

FM: What has been the hardest challenge so far?

DR: Back in January was the Garstang 10k and it was freezing cold! Then there was the world’s biggest obstacle course a few months back – a 20 mile run when the most you have ever run isn’t easy! Then there was the Great Manchester Ride on Sunday just gone… Longest ride on my bike in a year was tough enough and I ended it shattered and covered in blood (that’s another story!).

FM: What’s been the most daunting?

DR: The 20 miler was the most daunting – it’s almost a marathon and then there’s 200 obstacles to overcome – you start these things not knowing if you can finish them and at times you feel like you won’t!

But Forever Manchester is about positive stuff – so it was the most rewarding and has led to planning some great marathon runs next year and an unbelievable one the year after (literally unbelievable).

I’m knackered at the moment – so I am having my first week off from all training and events… Apart from the Colour Run on Saturday – but we’re doing that purely for fun!

FM: One you’re least looking forward to the rest of the year?

DR: Manchester to Blackpool will be tough – it’s a hard ride that I’ve done before and it’s unlikely I will be able to get out on my bike before it again! Then there’s Tough Mudder – I did that last year and thought never again… It’s been in my mind all year the feeling of those electric shocks and being planted face first into the mud – I can’t wait for that one to be over!

FM: What’s the target for the year?

DR: Initially we set off at £250 and now we’re looking to get past £1000 – so who knows? It would be nice to get to the £1500 mark. The whole idea is to ask people to sponsor us just £2 or £3 per challenge – we don’t want £10 or £20 per event as nice as it would be. A quick text to 70070 saying WEBD99 £2 would be really appreciated. It really spurs you on to know people are getting behind you and the support has been brilliant!

FM: What was it that made you set this challenge?

DR: Last year myself and Neil [a friend of Darren’s] did a couple of events and said it would be great to have something to look forward to this year, so we started to look at what we could do. It was around the time that I also fell in love with Forever Manchester and I put two and two together and it all made sense! We have got carried away and we are still considering more events for the year but the weeks are very full and very busy already!

FM: Your business is a Manchester Millions Business Club member, how would you encourage other businesses to become part of the Manchester Millions?

DR: If you love where you live/work and the communities you belong to, then the Manchester Millions is the perfect way to support them. Have a look at the Cash4Graft grants and work out how your £1000 will help support some inspirational people and the difference it makes.

Donating to Forever Manchester doesn’t just tick a box; you can see how and where your money is spent. At the very least, you’ll also meet some great people.

If you’d like to sponsor Darren and Neil on their quest, please visit their Just Giving page or text WEBD99 £2 to 70070 to donate £2.

Alternatively, if you are a business, there is the opportunity to sponsor the team’s t-shirts, which will be worn for the rest of the challenges. If you’re interested in doing this please email marketing@forevermanchester.com