January 15, 2015 10.15 am This story is over 106 months old

A new year, a 40th birthday and 40 challenges

Milking cows to climbing mountains: Dr Rona Mackenzie is taking on 40 tests and challenges in her 40th year and raising money for charity in the process.

I did it! I feel like an excited big kid but I’m so pleased to share my New Year news that I kicked off my ‘Forty Years, Forty Challenges’ in true style this festive holiday with my first two achievements.

As my husband and I hit the Italian ski slopes I was a little nervous about spending most of my time hitting the deck. As a first time skier I joined the beginners class, learning on something close to a horizontal slope. I spent the first day feeling like I was travelling at a hundred miles an hour yet the GoPro clearly showed that I was in fact doing a superb impression of a snail going through mud.

After two mornings of lessons I was amazed to find myself completing a blue run on the third morning and by the end of the week I was coping more confidently with the numerous tiny skiers who, despite being knee-high to a grasshopper, were swishing through the snow and whizzing past me at great speed. I even managed a ski session with my husband, coaxing him from the black runs to join me in some blue run ‘excitement’… It’s a good job he is a patient man.

The afternoons were spent taking part in an activity that was new to us both – Cross Country Skiing. Our teacher, Carmella, was very positive and gave out lots of lovely praise for all our efforts.

As a teacher it’s easy to forget how critical praise is when we learn a new skill, especially when we find it hard.

If the actions required coordination, I found I took to it pretty well. If they required brute strength, I was a fair way behind my husband as he shot off along the course. We had some amusing ‘Bambi on ice’ moments, one where in true comedy style my legs shot out from under me, flew into the air and left me to ungraciously ‘plop’ into a heap on the snow! Typically, that was one of very few times we used the video camera, very much a sight for sore eyes. But by the end of the week we decided that they were two new sports, not only ticked off my ‘Forty Challenges’ list but also things we would like to try again – I am determined to try a red run next time.

The preparation for my Forty Challenges got fully underway once I got back to the UK. I spent New Year’s Day morning on air with Nicola Gilroy on BBC Radio Lincolnshire, sharing the details of my challenges as we discussed the reasons that people set New Year’s resolutions.

My only resolution was to achieve my Forty Challenges and I set up my blog at www.drronamackenzie.com to track my progress. I finalized my challenges, one of which is to raise £4,040.40 for four charities. I chose The Samaritans, Arrhythmia Alliance, Classroom in the Clouds and Lincoln City FC Sport and Education Trust.

Each charity has a very special meaning to me, in the ways I describe on my blog, and this challenge enables me to give something to those who do so much to help others. I have committed to doing all forty challenges to receive my sponsorship money – so the bar has been set high. I’m raring to go.

The challenges include the unusual – milking a cow, making a silver spoon, learning to meditate – to the physical – completing the 100km ‘Race to the Stones’, a 2.8km open water swim and climbing Mount Elbrus in Russia – to the ultimate challenge for me – spending a day in my PJs and not doing any work!

Some emerged unexpectedly; as I announced on Twitter that I had signed up to give blood, a fellow tweeter told me about ‘Delete Blood Cancer’ and how easily I could become a stem cell donor. Ten minutes later and I had registered on the site. A few days later, I received my pack of information explaining how to complete the swab sample. The teenage son of the tweeter had just had his life saved by a donor – and now there is the potential that I too could help someone with blood cancer. Nothing is greater than the gift of life.

I’m looking forward to a rich and rewarding year and to raising lots of money for charity. All I need to do now is find some sponsors. So, if you are reading this article please make your resolution to pop onto my blog site, read up on my adventures and part with a little cash to help others. Your generosity could change lives.

Dr. Rona Mackenzie is Principal of Lincoln University Technical College (UTC). She has a strong background in education, having worked in six local authorities during her career, and is passionate about providing an education that meet the needs of young people and their community industries. She is a keen sportswoman and mountaineer, recently trekking to Everest Base Camp, and has an interest in photography.