Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, runners across the country were unable to take part in organised events such as the London Marathon.
Included in these were some of our own loyal – and very fit supporters. Despite hours of training and dedication, they had to put their running plans on hold and wait until lockdown restrictions were lifted to restart their marathon dreams. Some were able to run the virtual London Marathon, running 26.2 miles on roads and lanes close to their homes while others took part in the 2021 Virgin London Marathon.
But now, they are lacing up their trainers, pulling on their running vests and preparing for the TCS London Marathon – set to take place in the capital city on October 2.
Here are their stories, explaining exactly why they are getting ready to run the most gruelling 26.2 miles of their lives and raise thousands of pounds for us.
Claire is more used to dressing royalty – Princess Beatrice and Zara Tindall are among her clients,.
But the designer from Condover, near Shrewsbury, will be swapping high-end fashion for a running vest and trainers when she takes on the TCS London Marathon for us.
“Severn Hospice is a cause very close to my heart, having supported many friends and their families, when they are going through some of the hardest times in their lives,“ said Claire.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge and taking part in such an iconic marathon, passing those famous landmarks in London. And I can’t wait to fundraise for such a worthy charity.
“I’m least looking forward to the drop in my intake of chocolate and cake that will have to take place for my training!!”
Running the marathon is very personal for Marc from Newport. We took care of his father, who was also a keen runner, last year.
“You cared for my father, and I want to help raise funds for the incredible work you do,” he explained.
“He ran the second ever London Marathon and then ran it annually for around 15 years. It is an event and a cause that is close to mine and my family’s hearts so this is a very fitting challenge for me to do.
“I’m most looking forward to race day, I imagine running down the Mall with all the crowds is something I won’t forget in a hurry. And the thing I’m least looking forward to are those long, Sunday runs that I will need to do to prepare.”
When her dad was taken into the hospice in May 2021, Stephanie and her family were overwhelmed by the compassion of our clinical teams.
“He was in a lot of pain and struggling with his breathing,” said Stephanie. “From the moment he was cared for by Severn Hospice they did all they could to take the pain away from him and make him comfortable. We were amazed at the care and treatment given.
“My dad had always wanted to run the London Marathon but was never successful through the ballot.
“I told him I would make sure I would run it and get that medal. Not only would I love to run the TCS London Marathon on his behalf, but I would love to raise money for Severn Hospice to thank them for their hard work and allow them to continue this service for many of other families in need.”
The 28-year-old from Telford added: “Most people would say they are not looking forward to the long training and how difficult it is going to be. But I definitely have my dad’s strength as none of this worries me, I know that my strong willpower and the thought of my dad will motivate me through the difficult days of training.
“The part I am most looking forward to is crossing that finish line and knowing I have not only ticked off something from my dad’s bucket list for him, but also raised money to help the hospice continue to support other families.”
Aryn’s parents are both lead nurses at the hospice, and he is used to hearing daily about the amazing work we do.
The 23-year-old from Shrewsbury will be fulfilling a lifetime ambition to run the marathon whilst being able to contribute to the local community
But he is least looking forward to training in the great British weather.
“I also have several friends and family members who have experienced the amazing care provided by Severn Hospice and therefore I would like to raise money to allow that exceptional work to continue.”
Sarah got in to running with her brother Bryan and when he was diagnosed with cancer he continued to run for as long as he could.
“Bryan introduced me to the joy of running, and I am so glad he did!” said Sarah, 51.
“I’m proud to try and give something back so I’m running simply because I can. I’m going to embrace the challenge, grasp this opportunity and put my best foot forward to raise as much money for Severn Hospice as I can so they can be there for other individuals and families when needed.
“I cannot tell you how delighted I am and how lucky I feel to have been given this opportunity to run London for Severn Hospice!
“We discovered first-hand the fabulous care and support they gave Bryan at the time he needed it most. Our family will be forever grateful that he was so well cared for.”
Last year, Michelle and her friend Livvy ran the marathon for us, and Michelle so inspired her husband Carl that he dug out his trainers, applied for a place and got training.
He is running in memory of his mother–in-law Susan who we cared for, and we also cared for his nan and several friends over the years.
“I can honestly say that running it on behalf of Severn Hospice is going to be emotional and make me really appreciate the opportunity to run the event,” he said.
“My wife and her friend have fundraised on behalf of Severn Hospice at a few events including last year’s marathon. I also took part in several of the events, although many were cancelled due to Covid. We raised in memory of my wife’s mum who sadly passed away at the hospice just after Christmas 2020.
“A number of family and friends have experienced the same care over the years, and the job you do is amazing and that is why I want to raise as much as I can.”
Originally from Shifnal, Guy now lives in South London and admits he is not sporty.
“I really do need an excuse to exercise and this couldn’t be a bigger one. My dad Simon spent the last three weeks of his life at the hospice in Telford.
“As you can well imagine, this was the most difficult time my family has ever experienced, but the care and compassion we felt allowed us to say goodbye in the most dignified way possible.
“I cannot stress how vital places like the Severn Hospice are – allowing you to be a family for the little time that remains. Running the marathon to pay off some of the debt we owe the hospice, and to remember Dad, is the least I can do.
“I’m looking forward to getting race fit again.
“I’m least looking forward to the early morning training runs. It’s safe to say that I’m at peak laziness on a Saturday morning, and that’s not going to be compatible with marathon training.”
Matthew from Telford is running the marathon as a way of saying ‘Thank You’ and remembering two very important people in his life.
His dad was cared for at home by our nursing staff, which meant that Matthew’s family were able to fulfil their promise to him.
“Thanks to Severn Hospice staff we were able to keep dad comfortable at home, just as we’d promised him,” said Matthew.
“Although times were extremely difficult, we were able to stay together as a family, reminiscing, gathering around dad’s bedside right up until our final goodbyes.
“The care and counselling we received during this time was simply phenomenal and this is my way of giving something back.”
His good friend and teacher colleague from Hadley Learning Community, Samantha Beale/Webster, spent her final days at the hospice.
He added: “The staff even arranged her beautiful wedding allowing her and her partner Alex’s dream to come true. This memory will remain with me forever.
“To run wearing the colours of the hospice and running with my father and Sam in my heart at the TCS London Marathon will be my proudest moment.
“No amount of money I could raise would be enough to properly thank those at the hospice for what they did.”
Matt is most apprehensive about having to stick his cramped up legs out of the car window on the way home but he is most looking forward to “picking my little girl Jennifer up and hugging her at the finish line!”
Nick has raised funds for us in previous marathons and half-marathons.
His first run for us was the Shrewsbury Half in 2014 and he then completed the London Marathon in 2016. Now he is limbering up for his third big run.
As always, he runs to say thanks for the care and support his mother-in-law Liz received when she had terminal cancer.
Nick, who lost his dad to cancer more than 25 years ago, said: “I truly value the support Outreach nurses and the hospice provide for those with terminal illness and to the immediate family.”
He has spent the cold winter nights training but has enjoyed meeting and talking to people during his fundraising.
He said: “I am most looking forward to being part of a mass race but in particular London which is such an amazing occasion. There is nothing that I least look forward to as if injury free I enjoy my running.”
Gemma is running the marathon for her ‘Nan’.
Gemma’s grandmother died at our hospice in Shrewsbury.
With little running experience, Gemma decided to give something back for all the care and love her grandmother had received.
“I applied to run the marathon in 2020. In July 2014 I lost my nan, who was a wonderful, strong and brave lady.
“When she was told her cancer prognosis by the hospital team it was devastating. They explained she was too poorly to be nursed at home, so they suggested moving her to Severn Hospice in Shrewsbury.
“At first to just hear the word ‘hospice’ was upsetting and scary but as soon as we arrived we felt differently.
“The hospice team knew that Nan was on her way to them. They welcomed her and made her feel special. Straight away they made us all feel relaxed and nothing was too much for them.
“As soon as Nan was settled into her room the doctor came in, sat by her bed, held her hand and let Nan talk.
“The team explained to us how to cope with end of life care. They told us to talk to her, sit by her, gently stroke her hands and face, talk about precious memories and be positive, not negative or nervous.
“It just meant so much to be told this.
Caring and helpful
“The team were so caring and helpful to us all. The love and support they gave to Nan and the family was wonderful. We can’t thank the hospice enough for the support and care they provided.”
Eli lives in Manchester and this will be the second time she runs the marathon for charity.
“I am running in memory of my dad who passed away from Mesothelioma in 2016,” Eli explained.
“It is a way of showing just a fraction of my gratitude for the amazing work the hospice does and for the amazing care and support they gave not only my dad but the whole family during the most difficult period of our lives.
“Despite running the marathon in 2017, I have really let my running go and so I am looking forward to getting back into it and enjoying running again!
“Having run it before, I know how mentally and physically tough not only the actual marathon is but the training too, particularly long runs alone on a cold, rainy Manchester Saturday morning which to me seemed harder than Marathon day when the other runners and crowds keep you going.”
Having previously run to raise funds for Cancer Research UK, Eli chose to run for us after seeing the work we do.
“Due to the care and support he received during his illness my dad requested to be at Severn Hospice for his final few days.
“I cannot thank everyone enough for ensuring this happened and making him as comfortable as possible.
“During those final days, the care we ALL received was unbelievable, from the nurses, the complementary therapists, Chaplain, volunteers and doctors who all went above and beyond!
“Whilst I will never be able to repay Severn Hospice for everything they did for us as a family and most importantly for my dad, I would like to be able to show just a fraction of my gratitude and raise vital money for the charity.”
Sharon is a sister with our Hospice at Home team and knows first-hand just how important our work is.
The 49-year-old said: “On a personal note, the hospice has helped our family and friends families both in their own home and in the hospice, supporting, caring and giving advice when it was most needed and I wanted to be able to raise some money to help other families have this support.
“I entered to run the London Marathon for the hospice in 2020, however this wasn’t to be with Covid-19 and instead I ran the virtual marathon in the October, doing it ‘my way’ by running with my son for the first 10 miles and then going up and down the Wrekin with family and friends to complete the 26.2 miles.
“It’s been a long time coming but I am really looking forward to sharing the experience of running the TCS London Marathon in London with my son, in my special birthday year although I expect to be a long way behind him, hopefully soaking up the atmosphere and having our family on the streets of London cheering us on.
“I believe it’s about having that dream, believing in yourself and then being able to achieve that dream, so I will be trying to break the marathon up into small chunks and thinking of the people I will be helping when I am running.
“I am not looking forward to the longer training runs especially in the rain and wind, I know it is important mentally and physically but can get lonely when you’re running on your own for three hours plus when it’s raining.”
Mike has run the London Marathon before but is still not looking forward to the long training hours he will have to put in before the race.
“The general buzz at the start of the race is amazing and the cheering crowds during the race create a wonderful atmosphere.
The 63-year-old added: “I am running for Severn Hospice because it is a wonderful local facility which provides an invaluable service which members of my own family and also some friends have benefitted from.”
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Our final runner is Phil from Telford. The 55-year-old has been involved with the us so much over the years as we have been supporting his wife Mel, who has terminal cancer.
“My wife Mel has has used the services of Severn Hospice many times. They have supported her and her daughter Jess and myself. Last year, we did the Three Peaks Challenge for Severn Hospice and Mel has also done a number of fundraising challenges. I want to raise as much as I can for Severn Hospice.”
Phil is least looking forward to the last five miles of the race but the thought of finishing, he hopes in under four hours, and the eating afterwards, will keep him going.