An Evening with Adventurers

Ben Hooper, Xander Armstrong, Oli Christie and Jamie McDonald

Thrill and adventure for me often means just a power walk to the local garage to get some nearly out-of-date pork pies, so I was looking forward to meeting two amazing men, actually supermen, who have taken it upon themselves to go one step further and push their bodies beyond boundaries ever thought possible:  Hats off to Jamie McDonald and Ben Hooper.

They were the stars of ‘An Evening with Adventurers’ a night of gasping, with delight and horror from 100 guests, created by Rock the Cotswolds and hosted by Alexander ‘ooooh hasn’t he got a twinkle’ Armstrong to show the world that in these rolling hills we are full of people who would make Andy McNab shudder with respect. The evening, kindly supported by the fun-loving travel guru and Cheltenham-based Abercrombie & Kent, was an eye opener.


Meet the Millers: Jess and Ben

It began with guests arriving at the beautiful Daffodil restaurant and having their photo taken in the lobby before being ushered upstairs for a glass of ice cold champers. Thankfully only one guest (perhaps wanted by the Cotswold rozzers) said that he’d shoot someone if he had his photo taken which actually kind of got us in the mood for an adventurey, daring sort of night.


Whilst listening to the music of the sleek and rather gorgeous Swimming with Alice (aka BBC’s Claire Carter and Steve Knibbs) friends, old and new, chatted before everyone began to take their seats for dinner. I thought I’d be helpful and show Emma Willis, Rocker, talented shirtmaker and freshly appointed Deputy Lord Lieutenant ,and her lovely sister Joanna, where their table ‘Shackleton’ was.  Having the directional sense of Mr Magoo, I confidently sent them in the wrong way and had to hotfoot it after them like a flapping goose. Hmmm, a night of intrepid explorers indeed….

It was thrilling to have such creative and talented guests and Oli had carefully selected people to sit on tables where he thought would have a ball – entertainment, marketing, business, food, dancers, art…we also had the uber brill Alex Robertson entertaining with his jaw-dropping ‘whaaaaathowtfdidyoudothat?’ magic.


The Daffodil’s food was nothing short of bliss – starter of cheese soufflé, main course of pork belly followed by lemon tart with sorbet.  To show just how good it was Jamie McDonald’s dad – Donald McDonald (yes it is) hoovered up every last scrap of guests’ leftover on our table, but as he’s training for the Iron Man challenge it seemed the right thing to do.

And so onto our first adventurer of the night – Ben Hooper.  He was interviewed on a towering stool by Xander Armstrong who was blown away, as most guests were, with the sheer scale of the task in hand.  Swimming 2,000 miles across the atlantic. Not only is Ben going to be swimming through storms with swells as high as three houses, ploughing on through the water alongside killer sharks and vicious jellyfish but his feet won’t touch land for three months. Utter insanity.  Along all those scary things he has to be monitored psychologically because won’t see anything but water from November 2015 to January 2016.  That’s over 2,000 relentless hours of being soaking wet and seeing nothing but blue.

If you want strength of mind in the wild, Mr Grylls, there you jolly well have it.


Ben’s swimming to raise money for several charities including Maggie’s, SOS Children’s and Addaction so if you’d like to donate and be a part of this historic and monumental challenge go to


Ben Hooper and Rock The Cotswolds’ Nicky Godding

Now for local superhero Jamie McDonald. His story inspired those of us who don’t like planning much but do quite like the idea of a challenge.  He said his quest began when was literally just about to sign on the dotted line to buy a house but he suddenly changed his mind and instead bought a second hand bike for 50 quid. He bought a one way ticket to Bangkok and thought ‘Ok I’d probably better cycle back to Gloucester.’  In doing so he raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for kids charities.

On his return home he then broke the world record for static cycling – 12 days of peddling (you can see the plaque at Gloucester Quays) with only a pot of manuka honey to save his blistered bottom.  A few weeks after that he burst out of the bathroom and announced to his parents he was going to run across Canada alone because he’d just remembered he had a visa to visit there.


Jamie trying to convince us he’s just an ordinary man….

Here’s fantastic video of Jamie in the treacherous rockies reminding himself ‘who’s the daddy’….will never tire of it.

Dressed as a superhero for most of the journey across Canada, our local Forrest Gump was often followed by hundreds of people who showed overwhelming kindness and support. Jamie won’t say what his next venture is (he says he doesn’t know yet….come on Jamie tell us, tell us) but I have a feeling that it won’t be long before he finishes off setting up his superhero foundation and dusts off the trainers again.


Standing ovations for our adventurers from all our guests including Rich Leigh, Donald ‘leftovers’ McDonald, Oli Christie and A&K’s Annabel Tremaine

We finished the night with a goody bag from Abercrombie & Kent (including some slick ‘never forget your passport again’ post-its from Crowe Clark Whitehall)  that had a very welcome A&K ‘Sundowner’ kit – Fevertree elderflower tonic mixed with Sipsmith gin.

Wowser, that was a ridiculously classy G&T and the start of a whole new adventure perhaps….

With special thanks to regular RTC sponsors for also making the night possible: Business West, Crowe Clark Whitehill, and Havas Helia

For more photos (see if you can spot one that Alexander Armstrong spectacularly photobombed…) take a look at  Rock the Cotswolds FB page with photos from the brilliant McPhersonStevens.

 Posted by Melissa at Rock the Cotswolds