Review: An Evening with Adventurers at the Daffodil

Katie Jarvis and Ben Miller

Katie Jarvis and Ben Miller - Credit: Archant

Katie Jarvis enjoyed An Evening with Adventurers, organised by Rock the Cotswolds at the Daffodil in Cheltenham

I sat next to Ben Hooper at the Rock the Cotswolds Adventurers’ night! I SAT NEXT TO BEN HOOPER. How amazing is that! The thing is, I can’t swim. And he’s the man who’s planning to swim from Senegal to Brazil - 2,000 miles. In other words, the first person to swim the Atlantic. So not only did I get to speak to a true hero; I potentially made friends with someone who, given the right circumstances, could save me in a (specific) emergency. Result!

Plus, we both eat a lot, but for differing reasons. He, because he needs something in the region of 7,000 calories a day for his on-going training (breakfast: two bowls of porridge with cream and sugar; toast with peanut butter; chicken breast; banana; coffee, orange juice – then I lose track); I, because whenever I’m at the Daffodil in Cheltenham (where this wonderful, fundraising evening was being held), I always make it a policy to eat 7,000 calories, if I can. (The meal is wonderful, btw: Double Gloucester soufflé, belly pork, lemon tart.)

So, to explain. Rock the Cotswolds – if you haven’t heard of it. And, if not, why not? – is a movement founded by the inimitable Oli Christie (ice-cold award-winning CEO of Neon Play himself) to showcase all the cool things happening in the area. The thing is, Rock the Cotswolds doesn’t diss the tea shoppes and the honeyed stone. Quite the opposite. It just points out that there are amazingly state-of-the-art designers and photographers and jockeys and rock stars and cutting edge businesses here, too.

And this evening was put on especially to promote two outstanding ‘rockers’ – Ben Hooper (whom I sat by) and Jamie McDonald (whom I didn’t. His loss).

Not only that but Alexander Armstrong (who may be Pointless but who also has written, alongside Ben Miller, some of the funniest comedy sketches ever. Check out ‘Origins of hairdressing’) interviewed them on stage for us all. Under Xander’s pin-point questioning, we discovered that Ben’s feat will involve two six-hour swims a day when he sets off in November (the equivalent of swimming the English Channel each day); that he’ll be swimming six days a week, if not seven; that he’ll be accompanied by a team that includes people who’ll scare off sharks for him, particularly when he’s passing over the trench where they breed; that depths will reach 48,000 feet; and that he’s completely mad (my interpretation).

“For three to four months, I won’t see land,” Ben explained. Apparently, even the psychotherapist who’s helping gets weepy from time to time. Ben is training in various places, including the US, Cheltenham and the Cotswold Water Park – as a lady walking her dog shockingly discovered when he stripped bare, thinking he was alone. His message to her is, Please don’t judge; it was very cold.

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The swim isn’t completely insane, it has to be said. Ben is raising money for Maggie’s Cancer Care Centres, Addaction and SOS Children’s Villages – as well as showing his five-year-old daughter that everyone should dare to dream.

Then we had Jamie McDonald, who also redefined insanity. He has equally raised huge amounts for charity, after deciding that he didn’t want to put a deposit down on a house in Gloucester. Instead, on the spur of the moment, he booked a ticket for Bangkok, bought a second-hand bicycle, and cycled 14,000 miles back home.

After that, in case you hadn’t guessed, he did the obvious and ran across Canada – running, in fact - even more than he strictly needed to after turning left instead of right when setting out one morning. It was only when familiar landmarks began cropping up that he realised his error.

He’s taken pictures in a war zone (he got shot at). Discovered that Manuka honey is a sure-fire cure for an inflamed posterior (possibly the only cure). And cried a lot. Especially when his bottom hurt, I assume. Oh, he’s also single.

And each was presented with a £750 cheque towards their causes.

What a fantastic evening, sponsored by the wonderful luxury travel firm Abercrombie & Kent, which meant I got to see the lovely Annabel Tremaine, marketing director, whom I tried to persuade to give me a free holiday to review. (Result pending.)

So. Do log onto Ben’s website - - ESPECIALLY THE CROWD-FUNDING SECTION, raising money to stop him from being eaten by sharks. (Always a sensible precaution.)

And have a look at Jamie’s fabulous website, too:

And I also sat next to Ben Miller (on the other side). I SAT NEXT TO BEN MILLER!


Rock the Cotswolds announces five new Rockers every month. To nominate a rocker, and to find out more about Rock The Cotswolds, visit