Marathon runners

Michelle has been working hard to raise funds for The Somerville Foundation all the way through 2017. Altogether, Michelle raised over £1,300, which will allow us to continue to provide invaluable support to congenital heart patients, their families, friends and carers.

The last time I competed in Great North Run was in 2012, although I had done it 3 times before when I was younger I wanted to do it one more time before I was 40.  That year I raised money for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), in support of my sister in law Joanne, but also in memory of her brother Stephen who passed away when he was only 16 years old.

Despite not running for over 4 years, in November 2017 my friends and I thought it would be fun to run the Manchester 10K, taking place in the following May, and raise money for our chosen charities.  However, once we started training, this soon escalated into all four of us entering the Great North Run this year.

This time I really started to enjoy my running, which had never been the case before.  To improve my pace and technique, I joined my local running club, Ashington Hirst Running Club (AHRC), in January – what a difference it made!  I didn’t have to worry about being too slow, running alone, or being competitive – although I am very competitive with myself and always try to do better each time.  As part of a club, I was able to enter more races and so far this year I have competed in two relay races, The Great North 10K, Gateshead Trail 10K, AHRC 10K, and now The Great North Run.  Due to the timing of the Manchester 10K, I didn’t complete this one, however my amazing running club supported me and together we did our own Manchester run back home, even running with my Manchester number on my shirt.

I was lucky to be awarded the “Athlete of the Month Award” for April from my running club, and am also now qualified as a running coach so I can support other members as others have helped me.

I dedicated the Manchester 10K, Great North 10K, and the Great North Run to The Somerville Foundation as it is the charity my sister in law Joanne chose –we made a deal; she would choose and I would run. The Somerville Foundation has helped her so much, offering help and advice, a support network, and an acknowledgment that just because you’re older doesn’t mean that your heart condition has gone away because it simply doesn’t.  Joanne was born with Pulmonary Atresia and also a Ventricular Septal Defect which she still has today.  I soon realised how important The Somerville Foundation is to her, and as it is such a small charity that every little bit of money and publicity really can make a difference. Joanne and her husband Tony travelled to Newcastle from London so they would be waiting at the finish line for me, again that was the other deal we made.  I completed the run in two hours and 27 minutes.

So far, I’ve raised over £1,300 due to the kindness of friends and family, colleagues and even strangers who have found my fundraising page The Somerville Foundation.  The kind words of support I’ve had on the charity Facebook page have been fantastic, from people I don’t even know.  Also, my employer Sage UK offer fund matching, so £500 of my total was in fact donated by Sage.  Since the generous donation, and the communication between The Somerville Foundation and our CEO, Sage has also offered some additional help.  At Sage, we are allocated 5 Sage Foundation days which we can use to support any charities or local causes, so we get paid to go to work but in fact we are off-site helping and supporting others. We are able to help The Somerville Foundation with redesign of the website and social media. Through this volunteering, we will be offering assessment of the current website, a social media strategy, and also work with young people in palliative care to help them achieve something they are proud of.  I have already requested that my days will be used for The Somerville Foundation and I am really looking forward to it!

As I’m writing this, I’m in training for one more race to raise funds for The Somerville Foundation – the Redcar Half Marathon on 1 October.  I really want to beat my Great North Run time, and am confident I will.  So there will be another push on the fundraising to see if I can get just that bit more to help provide support for the charity and its members and of course for my Joanne.