To make sure this list isn't London-centric when these adventures come up I don't look to see where they are before I say yes, I just get excited about them. So on the face of it a day trip to Huddersfield for a 3 hour course might seem a little foolish. But it was totally worth it.
With Matt Eagles
Matt was diagnosed with Parkinson's at the age of 7 (!) so if you think i'm young to have it think again! Since having DBS, a treatment for Parkinson's that involves putting a small device into the body, he has become a regular on the tech panels and speaker lists. On a personal level he's sweet and kind and a fellow fan of a wacky adventure.
When I saw the advert for the CSI experience I thought it sounded fantastic, an opportunity to try your hand at the scene of a crime finding all the clues seemed really exciting to me. On arrival in the pretty village of Skelmansthorpe we couldn't help but think it felt very Midsomer Murders which seemed appropriate but somehow foreboding. But as our taxi pulled in to the Think Forensic building and the team greeted us warmly we knew this was going to be a brilliant day.
Our first session of the afternoon was with Sue Procter, a former police officer with an incredibly clear way of explaining things. She and current Scene of Crime Officer David Wright talked us through a few processes we would be using later in our crime scene; taking moulds of footprints, dusting for prints in various ways and taking fingerprints.
Suddenly before we knew it a witness was in the room telling us about a crime unfolding locally and we were put to work to use our new skills. Split into four teams we were given a location each, a box full of equipment, protective suits and off we went. Our location was a house where there had been a fire.
Our teammates Maisie and Mark, Matt and I still hurriedly scribbling down the witness statement arrived at our location. In case you decide to do it I won't go into detail about what we found there but we were able to use all the skills we had learnt earlier.
'Trying new things keeps your mind focused on the different challenges rather than your Parkinson's.' Matt.
The thing that made it feel so real was the fact we were in constant walkie-talkie connection with the other teams and control. Slowly we realised how the 4 crime scenes we were working on linked together to form one interwoven crime. We were also able to use the walkie-talkies to order equipment, call for the input of other specialist teams, get lab test results etc.
At first we were quite tentative and not really sure what to do, but as we got into it we grew in confidence and it was cool to see Matt take charge, he was really in his element!
We then returned to the group and delivered any key evidence we had found, seeing patterns between our scenes. It was at this point Sue and David shared that this had actually been based on a real crime committed locally years ago. She talked us through the real story bringing it to life and telling us the outcome.
This is probably one of the most incredible things I have ever done. The learning opportunity was second to none, the realism and experience we gained from the crime scene was brilliant, and we left feeling proud of ourselves.
So, in summary, sometimes you have to travel to get something really cool. And boy was this cool.