By Dave Perrins
Two weeks ago, on the 1st April, we ran our marathon giving day, sponsoring 150 people £10 each for their marathon efforts towards good causes they care about. We did the same last year, but I wasn’t at the company then, and I’ve got to say that I found it an unexpectedly inspiring, encouraging, sobering and moving experience. Now that the dust settled on all the giving and emotion (!) I wanted to share some of the incredible stories I heard, and how it impacted me.
We heard from a real variety of people. We had people running their 15th (ish) marathon (Gower Tan and Carol Littler) and a whole raft of people running their first ever - including plenty in their 40s and 50s, proving that it’s never too late to start. Like many of us, I live a busy life, and can fall prey to that incredible human skill of finding an excuse not to do something that feels too hard! It might sound cliche, but seeing these people, who are older than me, get going and do something towards ‘their cause’ really empowered me to get on with it for myself.
And that wasn’t all. As if ‘just getting started’ weren’t a good enough excuse, any idea that the circumstances of my rather comfortable life could get in the way were quickly obliterated too. We had Melanie Barratt, who is blind and is actually a paralympic gold medallist in swimming, but who has now signed up to run a marathon with a sighted guide. Wiki Solly is partially sighted and running her first ever marathon, also alongside a guide. Nicole Glover has lost 7 stone to run, while another runner has lost half his body weight (!!!) to get in shape for the marathon. Susie Godley is running for MS, while living with MS herself. All truly incredible and awe-inspiring.
The final real encouragement to me came from people who have been through awful circumstances, where it must have been hard to see any sort of route forward, to come to this point of running a marathon. It was a reminder that however hard life can be (and let’s face it some of us have to face up to really hard stuff), that much of the time, the light of the tunnel will emerge, and the story will go on.
Claire Flatt is raising money for McMillan (and is nearly at an astonishing £10,000 - nice one Claire!) and has gone from chemotherapy to running a marathon in 9 months. Claudia Burrough, another sponsoree, will be completing this year’s marathon in a wheelchair after losing her ability to walk in the training period for last year’s marathon. Nick Smith is running for Spinal Research after having his back replaced 12 years ago following an accident.
We really did read everyone’s posts and contributions and there were so many more we could have mentioned. Like Minal Patel’s inspiring response to incredible loss and adversity which had us in floods of tears or Debbie Ward closing in on raising an incredible £100,000 for cancer research. We don’t have the space to share all 150 stories here, but you can head to our Facebook post to browse them for yourself.
The big take away for me was that while there are so many amazing causes to support out there, a huge part of making a difference is simply taking the energy and effort to show up and do something. It can be easy to block these causes out, or simply get busy with everyday life (and there’s no shame in that) but actually by going out of their way, these amazing and inspiring yet just-like-me people are really contributing to causes that matter, and raising awareness at the same time. It was a privilege to be part of it, and as a company it felt like a real honour to play a very small part in these stories.
Going away at the end of the day I had a smile on my face at this beautiful but unorthodox way of giving (we even had to pause at one point for a bank fraud check!), at the incredible stories efforts of these wonderful people, but also with a real sense of challenge. What can I contribute? How can I open myself up to others stories and experiences enough to provoke me to action?
It looks different for all of us, and I don’t foresee myself running a marathon soon (although maybe you do!) but it has certainly given me a different insight and outlook, and empowered me to believe that I can, and must, do my own small bit towards making this world of ours a better and happier place. Good luck to all you amazing runners doing exactly that!