Three Letter Day

M + B + E = HAPPY

If ever I receive a message saying; ‘I need to talk to you, when can we talk?’ I always worry. This happened one afternoon five weeks ago as I cycled through Ukraine; I picked up the message on my phone while stopped at the roadside.

‘I’ve got some very brilliant news’.

Yet my stomach still somersaulted with worry as I dialled the number, especially as ‘urgent’ had been thrown in as well. I was munching fistfuls of biscuits, glugging at my water bottle thirstily under the bright sky, flanked by a golden carpet of dandelions stretching away to the horizon on both sides.

I had hardly made it to the end of ‘hi George you asked me to call’, when she announced excitedly; ‘they want to make you an MBE!’

I grinned and stuttered, drew in my breath and shook my head all at once as I asked her to say it again – I didn’t believe it and needed to hear it one more time.
‘I’ve got the letter here: it says ……’ and she chattered through what had been written.

I still find the notion surreal over a month later and a few thousand kilometres further into my journey. Surreal but nice, as Hugh Grant said after kissing Julia Roberts in Notting Hill.

I’m really chuffed to have been named in the Queen’s birthday honours list for services to rowing, charity and conservation.

Even though I physically rowed across the ocean myself, I wouldn’t have reached the start if it were not for the help, support and encouragement of many people – family, friends, sponsors, my team and all the people who donated money or wished me well. This award is no different – I wouldn’t have been able to have done the things that have been honoured if it were not for the energy, effort and good will of many people around the world. And the chances are if you’re reading this, then you’re one of those people – so thank you.

There’s one person who won’t be reading this, but to whom I am eternally grateful – my lovely Dad. It will be five years on Monday since he died and my world turned turtle and, while it hurts to think he won’t be there at the Palace, I know that I wouldn’t have strived for these things if it were not for all that his life and spirit taught me.
This leaves one final person for the most heartfelt of thank you’s – to my wonderful, fantabulous, long-suffering and brilliant Mum. It’s a brave thing to let your only daughter go to sea to chase her dreams and honour the memory of her father. She never once tried to stop me; in fact she did all that she could to help. Her encouragement, support, friendship, love, guidance and Happy Socks are invaluable and I love her to bits.

So, thank you Mum – this one is for you and for all that you have done for me, on and off the water. I’m already excited about taking you to the Palace, just as soon as I’m home. I have a while to go yet though, so you have plenty of time to go and choose a hat.

With big smiles and three new letters here in Kazakhstan,

PS. On consideration I decided that MBE is rather apt; I think it stands for Mars Bar Eater. I have two very melted double Mars bars in my bag and shall eat them today in celebration.
PPS. 6,600 kilometres on the bike odometer since Calais – we’re now in and out of some patches of desert for a few days before the mountains start.

About Tim Moss

Logistics Manager for the L2L Expedition, Tim runs adventure website The Next Challenge offering free advice and support for anyone planning an expedition or dreaming of one.
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34 Responses to Three Letter Day

  1. MarkG says:

    Congratulations Sarah. Well done!

  2. Congratulations Sarah! Such wonderful news – keep grinning and give yourself a well deserved pat on the back!! lots of love G

  3. BPC says:

    Huge congratulations and thoroughly well deserved! rowing, charity and conservation – wow what a set! I’d like to add to education and inspiring others! enjoy those squashy mars bars! well done, sarah, xx

  4. Helen Outen says:

    Big LOVE to you and HUGE congrats. I am so proud, and Taid, Auntie Broni and Daddy would be sooooooooo very proud of you too.
    Have a super day today………………….HAPPY pedalling !!!!!!

  5. Christine & Kathleen says:

    Many Many Congartualtions Sarah

    What can we say apart from you so richardly deservie this. Yes you have had folks behind you but you did all the rowing plus all the other things. You will be thrilled. Have just spoken to your Mum and things Mars Bar Eaters probably suits you better.

    Your Dad would have been so proud I can just picture him.

    Take care and happy pedalling, momentous brave expeditioner.

    Have a lovely day

    Much love

    C & K

  6. Christine & Kathleen says:

    Forgot to say well share a bottle of bubbly sometime when you do get home. Hope you may get one of them on your travels as you meet up with folks.

  7. Sue King says:

    HUGE congratulations. Your news really cheered me up on a day when i had some very bad news. You really deserve this award. You’re a great inspiration.

  8. Geoff says:

    WOOP WOOP. Fab news Miss O MBE. Delighted to see the news this morning. Can I give you something to smile about (not that it’s funny – in fact it’s really sad but I challenge you not to smile). It was E’s birthday on Sunday. Lots of friends in garden, BBQ, sunshine, tennis, kids playing and laughing, our dog Max playing with lady dog from next door, music playing, drinks flowing – happy smiles all around. Right up until the moment our neighbours dog decides to eat Tim’s pet guinea-pig. At which point the mood changed somewhat. We had to take the slightly drunk-dog owner to one side as she was becoming hysterical with guilt. Her husband threatening to have their dog shot. It then started raining. You’d be forgiven for thinking it couldn’t get any worse. But Tim then decided he wanted to cremate the animal. Wrapped in wrags so he could not see the fatal wounds, he placed his beloved Candy on a makeshift funeral pyre – the smell of singed fur and charred flesh filling the nostrils of our tearful guests as they made their excused and left. Mmm, one for the memory book. Happy cycling.

  9. Ellie Nicholson says:

    Saw you on the birthday honours list and thought I’d pop on here to say Massive Congratulations!
    Enjoy the Mars Bars

  10. Mark Schroeder says:

    maybe it stands for Magnificent British Enthusiasm!

    Keep it up Sarah, now you’ve got her maj on your side 😉

  11. Peter Booth says:

    Congratulations. have been following you from the start. Your dad would have been proud of you. You have a long way to go but this award should boost you on. Don,t forget to pick up some more Mars bars and why not try a few Kit Kats. Best wishes Peter Nottingham.

  12. Kate Patterson says:

    Holy moly Sarah! That is fantastic.
    A huge & well deserved honour.

  13. ian brocklebank says:

    well done sarah,this is a richly desreved honour and rather restores my faith in the system!what you are doing is hugely inspiring and i am so pleased your incredible endeavour has been recognised,next stop damehood?

  14. Anna Hill says:

    Fantastic Sarah! Congratulations .. you are such an inspiration as an adventurer and a person, Hugs, Anna x

  15. Libby Craig (and all at SJS / SES) says:

    I am absolutely delighted Sarah and so proud of you.
    What an inspiration you are to all here at your old school. The children will be so delighted to hear this on Monday in Assembly when I tell them
    – no doubt you will hear the cheers in Kasakhstan.
    Our warmest congratulations and may Christ you spede!!

  16. FABULOUS news! Expected it last year…but a year on it’s still so good and so well-deserved.
    Proud of you – of all that you have acheived, and of all that you are…
    Well done. Love R

  17. Loony grins all around Sarah!!!! Wonderful news and so well deserved. Hope you can get Hercs fixed quickly…or perhaps getting a chance to ‘lay over’ for a day/night would also give you the opportunity to celebrate the big MBE honour with a little more than water tonight :-)????? Enjoy the moment and stay safe…..looking forward to talking with you again on the 24th with the Accenture ACG team……Girl Power all the way…..SSK

  18. The Fenns says:

    Congratulations!! Well deserved. We shall raise a mars bar in your honour! Enjoying keeping up with your progress. Happy pedalling 🙂

  19. Tim and Sheila says:

    Massive, massive congratulations Sarah. You really deserve this kind of recognition (and your mum too). We are abslutely delighted for you.

    Keep pedalling.

    Tim and Sheila x

  20. Robert Douglas says:

    Hi Sarah, very good news indeed about your MBE announcement and forthcoming visit to the palace. Must have come as a pleasant surprise during your travels across the world.

  21. Alan Thomas says:

    Llongyfarchiadau / Congratulations


    Alan and Dawn

  22. Tony F says:

    Hi Sarah! Well Deserved!

    I have just finished your book, now really looking forward to the next one.

  23. christina watts says:

    Didn’t dare mention this morning on Facebook, if you had any Mars bars left (as I sat on the train congratulating you on your early morning message)
    It has been a brilliant day – you being awarded the MBE … As I cycled around London in and out of the Open Gardens and Squares day, we saw the sky fill will all sorts of old and new aircraft ending with the Red Arrows – (realised this was for the Queen’s birthday 🙂 trooping of the colour etc …

    It was as if they were writing your news across the sky – I do hope you have had a lovely day too Sarah – sleep well zzzzzzzzzzzzz

  24. Sarah Outen says:

    Thanks for all the lovely messages folks – I am very smiley and feel very well supported.

    I’m currently waiting for my hosts to wake up and take Herc and I to see the a mechanic so fingers crossed we will be on our way again soon.

    Woop woop!

  25. Paul says:

    Really pleased your accomplishments have been acknowledged with the honour – thoroughly well deserved – keep pedalling.

  26. Chris M says:

    Congratulations Sarah. Your an inspiration to many!!!

    Chris M

  27. Sam Iusein says:

    Dear Sarah, awesome news! I am so delighted for you and this is
    SO well deserved. Huge congratulations!!!!!

  28. Congratulations Sarah, its brilliant news. As so many people have said – you really do deserve it, you are such an inspiration to so many people. Very very pleased for you,

    Heather xxx

  29. Matthew Pike says:

    Congratulations Sarah!

    Well done from Matthew, Julie, Max and Alfie Pike in Swanage, Dorset.

    We are, so very much, enjoying watching and reading about your adventure.


  30. Congratulations Sarah, MBE!!!
    Following your wonderful adventure and sharing it with the other Natracare Sisters – I’ll pass on the splendid news.
    Happy trails 🙂

  31. Amy Bryant says:

    Whoop-de-whoop-whoop! Such great news mate, hope it’s given you an extra burst or two of energy to get through the potholes. Dead pleased for you xxx

  32. alexandr byakov says:

    I promised to write to you near the city of Aral. How is your trip?? How are you, how are you?

  33. Ульяна Ермакова says:

    То что Вы делаете Сара – потрясающе!Очень рада что на такое путешествие решилась именно женщина!У Вас сильный дух, огромная воля и смелое сердце.

  34. Ульяна Ермакова says:

    What You are doing Sarah – amazing!Very glad that on this trip decided it was a woman!You Have a strong spirit, the will and the stoutest heart.

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