Unsung Heroes: Ordinary People’s Extraordinary Charity Contributions 

At My Story Told, our passion lies within telling the stories of people who inspire us. Some of our favourite stories are those of remarkable individuals who are true everyday heroes, performing extraordinary deeds. Here are 5 individuals who have done remarkable things for charity and to raise awareness, we would love to tell their stories:  

Rocky Taylor  

In 2011, Stuntman Rocky Taylor went above and beyond for ‘Remember a Charity’ – a charity consortium which people can pledge a small percentage of their will to – reenacting his extensive stunt showreel to raise money. After a series of daring stunts streamed on Facebook, Rocky concluded his fundraising efforts with his most thrilling and perilous stunt yet, one that nearly cost him his life. Rocky narrowly survived a 40-foot jump while filming Death Wish 3, enduring multiple fractures, spinal breaks, and severe burns. Despite his injuries, 25 years later, he bravely recreated the 40-foot leap from a burning building at Battersea Power Station, conquering his fears! 

Ross Edgley 

British athlete Ross Edgley showed extreme strength and endurance when he completed ‘The Strongest Man Marathon’ in 2016. On home soil, Ross completed the marathon at the iconic Silverstone Circuit whilst pulling a 1,400kg MINI Countryman behind him. After training for up to 16 hours a day for eight months, Ross completed the marathon in 19 hours, 36 minutes and 43 seconds – raising over £2,000 for Teenage Cancer Trust, SportsAid, United Through Sport and Children With Cancer. Edgley later went on to become the first person in history to swim around Great Britain, completing the 1,780-mile swim in 157 days! He has since broken various records for his challenges, which he often dedicates to charity.  

Russell Cook  

Russell Cook, an English endurance athlete from Worthing, made history by becoming the first person to run the entire length of Africa from its southernmost to northernmost point as part of ‘Project Africa’. Overcoming personal struggles with mental health, gambling, and drinking, Cook embarked on this monumental journey to “make a difference”. Documenting his trek on YouTube with the support of his team, Cook captured global attention. Enduring gruelling terrain and the vast Sahara Desert, Cook faced challenges every step of the way. From visa complications and fatigue to hospitalisation and an armed robbery in Angola on June 24, 2024, where cameras, phones, cash, passports, and visas were stolen from him and his team. Despite the hardships, Cook completed his final run in Tunisia, raising over £700,000 for charity, earning him the well-deserved nickname ‘the Hardest Geezer’. 

Anna McNuff 

In January 2015, British adventurer Anna McNuff left Bluff on the South Island of New Zealand to run the entire length of the country! On her own, without the support of a team, and with a bag weighing a quarter of her bodyweight on her back – Anna navigated some of New Zealand’s most challenging and unforgiving backcountry – sleeping wild, crossing swollen rivers and scaling mountain passes on the Te Araroa trail. Whilst running 32 miles a day for sixth months, Anna visited schools, sharing her story and the importance of the great outdoors! By the time she had completed her 1,911-mile run, Anna raised £5,000 The Outward Bound Trust.  

 Mathew Loddy  

Ex-Scaffolding boss, Mathew Loddy from the UK, achieved an incredible feat by running 100 marathons in 100 days, all to raise funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust. His motivation stemmed from a promise made to a terminally ill friend to support cancer charities. Beginning in the Algarve, Portugal in January 2012, Mr. Loddy eventually finished in front of a home crowd, concluding his amazing challenge at the London Marathon.  Despite car troubles, gruelling roots and being hospitalised multiple times, Mathew Loddy raised a staggering £45,000 for the teenage cancer trust from his 2620-mile journey! 

You don’t have to run a marathon or swim the English Channel to tell your story. At My Story Told, we believe that every person’s story – made up of unique experiences and perspectives – deserves to be heard. 

At My Story Told, our passion lies in capturing the intricacies of people’s memories and translating them into compelling narratives on paper. Our team of writers shares this enthusiasm for reading too – whether it’s a book based on fact or fiction! We’re dedicated to keeping you up to date on the latest and greatest releases in the world of biographical literature – offering recommendations from avid readers to fellow book lovers.

As April begins, we’re excited to present a selection of autobiographies, memoirs, and biographies that have recently appeared on bookshelves or are eagerly anticipated to hit stores by month’s end. Here are our top 5 picks for captivating reads to dive into this April:

Girl Unmasked: How Uncovering My Autism Saved My Life – Emily Katy

In a world where appearances often mask inner struggles, Emily’s story stands out. At first glance, she seemed like any other girl, leading an ordinary life yet beneath the surface, Emily grappled with the unshakable feeling that she was different. At 16, she finally uncovered the truth – she was autistic.

Girl Unmasked unveils Emily’s journey to this revelation and the difficult path she endured to get there. Authored with raw honesty only at the age of 21, Emily delves into the years before her diagnosis, where books and imagination became her sanctuary against the overwhelming pressures of school and the torment of OCD.

Misunderstood by a system ill-equipped to handle autism, Emily Katy found herself on the brink of despair, supported only by her loved ones. Post-diagnosis, Emily embarked on a quest to reclaim her identity, ultimately finding solace in her role as a mental health nurse, determined to assist others where she once felt failed. Girl Unmasked is not just a memoir but a testament to resilience, offering a unique glimpse into the autistic experience – reminding us all that embracing our differences can lead to true happiness.

 

Extraordinary: The Search for a Life Worth Living – Stephen Gillen

Embark on an astonishing journey through the gripping true story of a man deeply entrenched in the murky depths of London’s criminal underworld, a narrative that highlights as much about redemption as it does about crime.

From the grim confines of children’s homes to the notorious ranks of crime gangs, his pursuit of belonging led him down a treacherous path fraught with peril and betrayal. A pivotal moment arrived during a botched armed robbery, climaxing in a confrontation with law enforcement that resulted in a 15-year sentence as a Category A prisoner, rubbing shoulders with infamous inmates like Charles Bronson.

Despite despair, life in prison became the catalyst for an extraordinary transformation. Emerging as an international peace prize laureate, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Gillen’s journey from crime to humanitarianism epitomises the opportunity for redemption. His story is a testament to human resilience, offering hope and inspiration to all – serving as a poignant reminder of the power of second chances.

 

Me and Mr Jones: My Life with David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars – Suzi Ronson

In the early 1970s, Suzi Ronson’s life took an unexpected turn when she met David Bowie’s family at the hair salon where she worked. This chance encounter led Suzi into the vibrant and eclectic world of the Bowies, where she quickly became immersed in their bohemian lifestyle.

From crafting David’s iconic Ziggy Stardust hairstyle to becoming the sole woman in his touring entourage, Suzi’s journey with the Spiders from Mars took her across the globe. Amidst the whirlwind of costume mishaps, wild parties, and encounters with music legends like Iggy Pop and Bob Dylan, Suzi found love with Mick Ronson, Bowie’s guitarist.

Me and Mr Jones offers a dazzling and intimate glimpse into Suzi’s experiences, providing a unique perspective on one of music’s most enigmatic figures and capturing a pivotal moment in pop culture history. Suzi Ronson also delves into the complexities of life behind the music industry. Being one of the few women in a male-dominated realm, Suzi navigates the highs and lows of show business with resilience and wit. Through her eyes, readers are transported to a time of cultural transformation, where Suzi’s presence in the room serves as a reminder of the shifting power and evolving roles of women in the entertainment industry.

 

Running on Empty: 18,000 Miles Down Africa with Parkinson’s – Guy Deacon

In the captivating autobiography Running on Empty, Guy Deacon shares his awe-inspiring journey, marked by resilience and hope. At sixty, and battling Parkinson’s disease for over a decade, Guy embarked on a daring solo drive from the UK to Cape Town, spanning 18,000 miles across twenty-five countries.

This epic journey, completed in Deacon’s trusty VW Transporter over twelve months, braved numerous breakdowns, perilous roads, and even an emergency evacuation. Navigating through conflict zones and rough terrains, Guy’s determination shone through, despite the challenges posed by his condition.

Guy Deacon’s extraordinary expedition not only realised a lifelong dream but also served as a powerful platform to spotlight Parkinson’s disease, highlighting the urgent need for global awareness and support. Running on Empty is a testament to Guy’s unbreakable spirit and the boundless possibilities one can experience when they have courage in the face of extreme adversity.

 

Forever Max – Kerry Irving

A dog can be more than just a best friend. Sometimes they can be our hero.

In the poignant conclusion to Max the Miracle Dog’s remarkable journey, we witness the enduring impact of a loyal companion. Max, the Springer Spaniel, entered Kerry Irving’s life following a traumatic accident, becoming not only a cherished pet but also a symbol of hope and resilience.

Over the span of a decade, Max touched countless lives worldwide, inspiring charitable efforts and spreading joy wherever he went. In Forever Max, Kerry and his faithful companions, Paddy and Harry, embark on their final adventures in the scenic Lake District, reflecting on Max’s profound influence and adjusting to his twilight years. This heartfelt tribute, following the bestselling Max the Miracle Dog, honours the memory of a beloved furry friend and the enduring legacy he leaves behind.

 

Whether it’s the tales of triumph, the moments of laughter, or the lessons learned along the way, at My Story Told we believe that every story is worth sharing. Tell your story today.