Beach volleyball all over again only this time with a lot more rain

It was this time of year again, the annual beach volleyball tournament. This was held at the usual place the Broadgate arena, between Moorgate and Liverpool Street stations.

This was a fundraising event where a load of different organisations including Action For Kids as well as our corporate sponsors all form teams to play beach volleyball until they have a winning team at the end of the day.

I was not particularly happy about having to get up over an hour earlier than I usually do to go to Action For Kids on the day. I usually get a lie in after working for the supermarket at midnight the night before and I also wasn’t sure that I could raise quite the same bucket loads as last year and live up to expectations but apart from all that i was looking forward to the event.

I got up and went my usual way to near the AFK headquarters but instead I went into Hornsey station to make my train journey to the Broadgate arena.  After a stop or 2 I happened to see Jo Read (Work related learning director) on the train on her way to the marks and Spencer’s nearby. she wasn’t due to be at Broadgate as soon as I was so i was  running a little late but I did get there.

My first job when I got there was to help lay out the pitch and carry some flags for the sitting volleyball.

This was proving a difficult task for us all. With my work colleague Ben and my line manager Edward we were not finding it easy, however me and Ben were left to it as Edward’s help was needed at the main volleyball game. I had to bring back my childhood-developed skills in completing jigsaw puzzles and when it was done we ended up with the London Underground sign. As Ben as a fellow aspie (person with asperger syndrome) had an obsession with trains and liked to bombard people at  work with e-mails about trains, so he was pleased when the underground sign was completed I took his photo of him in front of the giant underground sign on his phone and my phone so we could show people. As I myself thought it was a big achievement for him as he multi-tasked by doing man well (due to his Hungarian accent he pronounces manual as “man well”) and bombarding at the same time and he managed to make it both about trains and work related.

Ben surveys their handiwork

It was past 10 o’clock when we completed the task so me and Ben reported to Carolyn who was running the event to ask what we had to do next. I was hoping I could do some collecting and get some money as the weather was alright and a few people were beginning to gather round and watch the games, only it turned out the collection licences were on the minibus with Sam Holloway (work related learning manager) and the work related learning students, and were not due to arrive till about half past eleven. This meant I had a break for a bit however some valuable collection opportunities were lost.

However later on the minibus arrived and the collection licences were found.

But once I managed to start collecting it started to rain, luckily this meant that people all went under the sheltered part of the arena where the shops were. So it was ideal for me to go round everybody so I was able to capitalise on this being the nearest place that was sheltered from the rain for the passing public. The bucket started to fill up with change. By the time I made the first bucket too heavy to carry the rain had stopped and the sun had came out and as it was lunch hour more people started to come out and watch the game

Many city folks in suits kept on adding to the loot.  Handfuls of pound coins kept pouring in as I continued with my bucket constantly collecting.

There was a group of rich women who as I kept complimenting they pulled out £5 notes and kept putting them in. After more collecting someone one even put a £10 note in.

Ready to hit the crowds!

I later had a break for lunch, I then had a rest to watch the game myself, which i enjoyed as afk’s team seemed to be winning but i was told that we were yet to play the team that won last year which i think was a hedge fund company. That would make sense as they could afford better players.

All to play for

Afterwards just as I was about to start collecting again it then started to rain. Carolyn who was in charge of the event gave me a clear plastic hoodie which made me look like I was some kind of forensic scientist so I had to go round collecting looking like I was from CSI Broadgate.

All-weather collection Rich

But it did protect me from the rain and as I continued to collect it was beginning to quieten down but it did get better when the sun came out again. More pound coins and someone even put a £20 note in my bucket.

There was a couple of funny incidents which would have been good as comic sketches on the credit crunch, one of which was the banker picking up a penny in the street, another was when I went collecting and there was a banker about to get on one of those bikes for hire to the general public with the Barclay’s bank logo on them that Boris the mayor of London provides. When he said he didn’t have any money I said “So it’s that bad is it? The banks are giving out company bikes rather than company cars, I didn’t know your job had got that bad”. He laughed and a couple of £2 coins came out of his pocket and into my bucket.

As i continued things got funnier and better, there was a team playing who wore red and white stripey tops just like in the old childrens  book “Where’s Wally” so i made the joke that it was becoming more like wallyball. After about 7 something pm I was told that work was over, so Paul the finance director was taking us to a Moorgate pub nearby for drinks so all in all a good day!

A long beer after a long day


The beach volley ball that was had by all

On Friday the 12th of June I was invited to go to help out at the biggest event that Action For Kids had ever organised which had been talked about for a while by my colleagues in fundraising. It was a beach volleyball tournament in the City. I had to see what it was about. I was originally invited to come at 9:30am to help set it up but I was excused from such duties fortunately due to the fact that I had to work till midnight at my other job the day before and I wouldn’t get much sleep arriving home at 1;00am and then having to get up early to get to Liverpool street at about 9:30am.  


I was offered the option of either going on a mini bus with the Action For Kids students at midday or make my own way there by train for the afternoon. Unfortunately I left the house too late so I missed the mini bus so I went on a train from Hornsey station to Moorgate as my fellow aspie work colleague Ben had previously suggested to me in aspie corner one work day.


I looked around Liverpool Street trying to figure that map out and find the venue among those bank like building with loads of people in suits wondering around. I finally found it and there was a nice section of reserved seats for Action For Kids students to watch the games where there was sand and some banners with the AFK logo on it. Everyone seemed to have badges. I went to down to Carolyn to ask her for a badge, I got a badge that said event staff which was good.


There were 2 teams playing volleyball when I arrived one was HSBC and the other was Action For Kids. My bank account was with HSBC but it was Action for Kids that kept that account in the black for me so I knew exactly what team I was cheering for.


Some of the students where wondering around with some collection buckets Vishna and Yi Ling were waving buckets together, it was funny as they looked like twins.

I also got a chance to have a go at sitting in one of those wheelchairs and play wheelchair basket ball. Siobhan said she wouldn’t be good at it and I made a joke about how she would be better at it then me coz I’m used to basket ball and she might be used to net ball where you cant move with the ball and I couldn’t see how you could move the chair in a straight line and bounce the basket ball at the same time without having 3 hands. I tried it and I was right but I did manage to get the ball through the hoop after finding a chair which fitted me.


We went back to watching beach volley ball games – there was other teams such as hedge funds, banks, police and law firms playing. There was a game between city police and a law firm but I found that funny as lawyers verses cops was a regular professional occurrence. After a while of watching the Action For Kids team play and win their games, I got a chance to get on the court and do a bit of volleyball training with the students. This was fun.


Then I spent a while having a conversation with a lady called Drina who was an academic who had previously interviewed me at work at Action For Kids as she was doing some study on aspies in the work place. I was also talking to this other lady called Debbie who did a job supporting special needs kids in schools, she apparently supported a student in west lea the school I used to go to and started this after I left that school. We had a right laugh about some of the current special school politics my favourite was the term “ inclusion unit” as it seemed contradictory in terms as the work unit met it was one on its own where as inclusion meant it was part of something.


After that conversation  I went with the students to a posh yuppy bar that served food where Suzie ordered everyone a meal and all the students and a few staff members who were not playing on our volleyball team all sat round a big table. I sat and eat a burger and chips. I had Vishna chanting “Prader-Willi Syndrome”  at the top of her voice so I said  “Look Vishna, we are in a bar full of posh yuppies I feel embarrassed enough about wearing my blue jeans and trainers so id rather you didn’t draw further attention too us” and then I had Siobhan shouting across the table that the mushy pea that had come with her fish and chips were Robert’s bogies so I found a chair next to Siobhan so she could make those funny comments without the whole restaurant having to hear them….. for that reason as well as the fact that the kind of people who drink in that bar have another kind of “prada willy” syndrome where they want to talk like Prince William and wear clothes made by prada. You could see that the yuppies were not used to having disabled kids in their restaurant.


After watching more volleyball I made a joke about how having to clear the sand up afterwards would be a good prize if there was a load of valuable things like diamonds and £50 notes buried in that sand. It turned out the Action For Kids team came second to the Mitsubishi team in the final match. I was offered a mini bus ride home but I told Susie that I wished to see my duty through to the bitter end meaning a pint of bitter bought by the directors but unfortunately there was more to it then that.


At about 7:30pm the mini bus drove the students away and we all had to grab shovels to clear away the 40 tons of sand on the volleyball court. I saw even our director Paul’s 6 year old daughter had grabbed her small spade that came with a bucket for building sand castles so I said as a joke to Paul “Is it me or are site staff getting younger?”. We all got to work shovelling the sand into bags, this was really hard work.

 Picture 251

It took us to about 10:30pm for us to fill all those bags with sand and by that time we decided to leave the rest to the professionals with the JCB truck. The only few of us remaining were Jo, Lawrence and Robert so I was the only member of fundraising staff remaining apart from Lyn and Carolyn who organised the event and stayed till midnight. Finally I got a pint which I really needed as Jo bought me a drink, this felt good. After that me and Jo got on a tube and got the W3 bus. She told me all about her time she ran her own business dealing in antiques when she was 18 while I talked about some of the funny business failures I had when I was that age. After that it was nice to finally be home after a long evening.

Action For Kids

Blogged by Richard