Early Years (How it all began…)

For most of the 1990s, Thames Water Engineering  put on a Christmas Pantomime – to raise money for local charities in Reading. Humphrey was born, or rather – brought into existence by Sharon Smith – for the 1995 production of Aladdin (directed by Nick Burkinshaw). So the whole thing began when Jeff Farrow persuaded Paul Nash to join him in becoming Humphrey.

Having agreed to suffer inside Humphrey on stage – Paul immediately got his revenge – by entering Humphrey into the 1996 London Marathon. The now famous camel made the switch from acting to athletics and his ‘Running-for-WaterAid’ career began.

Paul and Jeff

Paul and Jeff

Humphrey in Aladdin

Of course, the marathon is never just about the day itself. Humphrey’s true talents lie in fund-raising rather than his athletic skills. All through his career Humphrey has been wonderfully supported by hundreds of people in Thames Water, its Contractors and Suppliers and the public – who he surprises at events from time to time.

Coming down the escalators at Reading Station (look at my shiny fur)

And some brief reminiscences – such as the time that Paul was clipped by a car on Jamaica Road (how can a driver not see a big bright-orange camel?) – Jeff learning a whole new ‘motivational’ vocabulary (in a Derbyshire accent) from Paul over the course of completing their five consecutive marathons – (it has to be said that without Paul’s inspiration and determination Humphrey would probably never have completed even one marathon) – the year when Gerry Greene and Paul McMahon waited for Humphrey in a pub near the Tower – then couldn’t keep up with him and had to hail a taxi to get to the finish – Rose, as Humphrey’s belly dancer, running up and down the lines of spectators, covering several extra miles to collect and carry bucket-fulls of coins – of being among the late-finishers (he’s not built for speed) – behind the athletes and fun-runners seen on TV – among the people who are running for charity often despite age, injuries and difficulties – reaching each mile-station at the same time as the people who are dismantling them – with the main aim of getting to the finish while it’s still daylight!!!!

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