Tuesday, 14 June 2011

ABC easy as.....

ABC easy as one, two, three, as simple as doh ray me, abc, one, two, three baby you and me

Imagine getting up and putting on wet clothes, day after day after day, pulling on walking boots, eating rice and beans, day after day after day, dodging electric eels, drug smugglers, angry Amazonian Indians, day after day after day, fishing for piranha, braving thousands upon thousands of stings from wasps, mosquitoes and scorpions, day after day after day, avoiding pit vipers, lightning strikes and bows and arrows day after day after day. Easy as one, two, three? ABC didn’t think so either, but last week Bill Weir- ABC television’s intrepid anchor man – agreed to brave two days in the Amazonian jungle to film explorer Ed Stafford as he continued his bid to become the first man to walk the length of the world’s longest river.

Bill and his fearless producer/cameraman Bart flew down from ABC’s headquarters in New York City to join Ed on the banks of the River in Brazil.

The Amazon River; a place of legend, danger, disease and death. Ed’s home for the past two years and one of the most beautiful, diverse and essential places on the planet. The story of how ABC, Bill and Bart ended up alongside Ed in the Amazon goes something like this.....

Ed is my ‘free client’. When I set up my business in 2004 part of my business plan stated; ‘I will work 80% fee paying and 20% free’. My accountant told me I was mad.
I worked for a succession of brilliant and mind-blowing causes for free and enjoyed every minute of it. Then in 2007 I met Ed Stafford. He told me he would like a bit of advice and help from my client Tom Hart Dyke, on how NOT to get kidnapped in the Colombian jungle. (Tom knows a thing or two about kidnapping having the distinct misfortune of being held hostage in the Colombian jungle for 9 months in the year 2000.) Tom and I agreed to meet Ed and his friend Luke in The Malt Shovel in Eynsford to discuss kidnapping and talk jungle. To be honest I was only there for the beer and sausages – but I ended up leaving the pub with more than just a full belly, I left with my new free client; Ed Stafford. His bid to become the first man to walk the length of the world’s longest river would become my obsession too over the next two years.

Ed set off on 2nd April 2008 (he would have set off the day before but phaffed about and missed ‘fool’s day’ by a whisker). He also set off with his expedition mate Luke Collyer, but after 3 months the boys fell out and Luke came home. Thanks to their falling out I had my first splash for Ed in The Guardian and The Mail and the boys spat was discussed on the BBC Breakfast sofa. The ball was rolling and the press started to build.

Later in 2008 I fell pregnant and slashed my client list from 6 to 2, keeping The Spelling Society and Ed Stafford on my books. I now worked 50% fee paying and 50% for free. My accountant told me I’d lost my mind.

I managed to place a steady stream of stories on Ed around the globe and the monthly press releases were beginning to yield fruit along with the mentions in blogs around the globe. Matt Power from ‘Men’s Journal’ got in touch made his way down to meet Ed in the jungle. His outstanding piece has since been nominated for an award.

The novelist Mark Barrowcliffe joined Ed for a week and his story made The Guardian and The Mail.

Magazines such as Conde Nast Traveller, CNN Travel, FHM and Outside Edge all profiled Ed’s walk. Then in February this year a friendly Kiwi named Bart dropped me an email asking about Ed’s journey. Bart phoned me and we chatted about London, the jungle, and above all Ed’s amazing adventure. Bart had just moved ABC offices from London to NYC and being a Kiwi was an adept traveller and a born adventurer himself. I googled him and found out that he’d narrowly missed being blown up in Afghanistan. He seemed just right as a travelling companion for Ed and after speaking to him on the phone I knew Ed would enjoy his company.

And so, last month, with a camera and an anchorman in tow, Bart travelled to the Amazon to report Ed’s journey.

Bart’s film was shown three times last Friday (21st May) first on Good Morning America, then later on The Diane Sawyer Show and even later on Nightline. So now, quite a few Americans have learned about Ed’s mental and physical endurance test.
People wonder how he keeps going. Well, it’s easy, as easy as ABC, one, two, three; he keeps putting one foot in front of the other, making sure he avoids the pit vipers and electric eels.

If you have a minute to spare, then visit his website and view his films. As you read, Ed is still walking. He will continue to walk until he reaches the shore. www.walkingtheamazon.com


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