Leonard Cheshire marathon runners raise £200,000 for disabled people
24 April 2017
A total of 90 runners ran the famous race in the capital on Sunday for Leonard Cheshire, with friends, family and the charity cheering them on throughout.
The money they raised will support thousands of disabled people in the UK and around the world with physical and learning disabilities – helping them to fulfil their potential and live the lives they choose.
One Leonard Cheshire runner, 61-year old Chris Arthey, was the oldest amputee to complete the London Marathon. Chris, who lost his leg after being hit by a drink driver, completed the race, his first marathon since his accident, in four hours 50 minutes.
‘My prosthetic leg swings to the side when I run, so I had to be careful not to clip anyone. I almost fell once, but luckily a fellow runner steadied me.’
Chris said he was feeling confident before the race because training had gone well, but at mile four he felt a stinging in his stump and wondered if he should stop to check on it.
‘Eventually I decided I would not be stopping. I wanted to make sure I ran the whole race with no stopping and no walking.
‘I was so proud to achieve that. I knew miles 16-22 would be hard; that is when you get self-doubt and feel wretched.
‘The crowd always helps and I just thought of all the sponsorship I’d had.
‘When I got in front of Buckingham Palace, I thought: just smile and don’t fall over. I felt faint afterwards and my stump was painful, but I was just so pleased to fundraise for Leonard Cheshire Disability.
‘They really pull out all the stops and I was well looked after by them after the race. I got home in pretty good shape!’
Chris, from Godalming in Surrey, was running to support the Leonard Cheshire care service Hydon Hill in his home town and so far has raised £3,300.
The day after the marathon Chris and his wife Denise went to visit Hydon Hill to show Chris’s medal and spend time with a recent amputee who has moved to the service.
Also running for Leonard Cheshire was children’s author Simon A.C. Martin from Sidcup, London.
‘Staying motivated was so easy. I have never known a crowd so amazing.
‘They were giving out high fives and a couple of girls ran out and gave me a hug when I was not doing very well and clearly struggling.
‘I even got a marriage proposal, sort of! A girl was holding up a card up saying, "You’ve done something crazier today, marry me"!’
Leonard Cheshire carer Jordan Smith, who works at Holehird care home in Cumbria also took part in the day.
‘I got inspired by all the residents, mainly one resident in particular who ran 20 marathons after the age of 50.
‘Unfortunately she was walking in Austria and had an accident and was disabled from the neck down.
‘We had a conversation one day about how I could never do a marathon, and I realised it was a bit ridiculous for me to say that. So here I am now.’
‘My reasons for running the London Marathon were twofold: firstly the personal challenge; it’s good to prove that no matter what your age, you can still take on a challenge and succeed.
‘Secondly and most importantly, the pain and physical challenges I faced yesterday are nothing compared to those faced by disabled people every day.
‘At Leonard Cheshire Disability we are proud to be helping disabled people live their lives to the full and I was proud to be running for such a worthwhile cause.’
Also amongst the 38,000 people taking part this year was Leonard Cheshire runner London chef Andy McFadden.
He’s best known for having been the capital’s youngest Michelin-starred chef when he was just 26 years old.
Another Leonard Cheshire runner of fame was Nicola Lesley Powls, or Lesley as she is known on the TV series ‘Hospital’, which documents her work in a London hospital.
Leonard Cheshire also had a lot of runners raising money because the charity’s services have played an important role throughout their lives.
Sue Garner from Sussex celebrated her 70th birthday by running for the Heatherley service in Copthorne, which she has supported for almost 60 years.
Amanda Sherriff also pounded the streets for a care home that’s been close to her heart since childhood.
The 47-year-old was raising money for Douglas House in Brixham, a care home she ‘grew up alongside’ after her late parents volunteered there for decades.
‘My granny, before she died two years ago, used to give so much of her time to those living with disability, and I do what I can to give what she gave.
‘I like to do charity things so I can honour her and hopefully in some way carry on what she did.’
The charity was also lucky enough to have international runners, including Ray Helwich, who had come all the way from Pennsylvania and finished in three hours 13 minutes.
‘That’s two down, four to go (of the six Abbott World Marathon Majors). It was great running for Leonard Cheshire.
‘They were great with motivational support and fundraising support.’
‘It’s my first marathon and training has been good. After having to defer my place last year, this has been a long time coming.
‘I was crying as I crossed the finish line. I picked Leonard Cheshire as there’s a home in my village, Godfrey Robinson House, that I visit.’
As well as our individual runners, we had duos and even trios running together for us. Father and daughter Adrian and Monica Dunner took on the race together.
‘We raced and she won. She’s also half my age though.’
‘We’re fundraising for Leonard Cheshire Disability because my uncle just had a stroke so we wanted a charity for that cause.’
‘It was great running the marathon today, beautiful weather and support all the way along.
‘Probably one of the best marathons I’ve run and it’s my seventh. I ran for Leonard Cheshire because it’s a really great cause.
‘I’ve never run a marathon for a charity before, so it’s been great.’
The runners were joined by Leonard Cheshire chief executive Neil Heslop, who went to the Tower Hill and Greenwich cheer points and then to the Leonard Cheshire reception afterwards.
‘I was amazed by our marathon runners’ commitment and determination, not just during the race itself but also in the months of training.
‘As a charity, we are hugely grateful. One in six of us will be affected by disability at some point in our lives, but the efforts of our marathon runners will help our charity to provide support when this happens.
‘Money raised this year will fund a range of vital services, including innovative therapies, equipment and activities, and schemes to support disabled people into employment and education.
‘This year is also one hundred years since our founder, Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, was born. Our fantastic marathon runners are helping us to continue his legacy, by helping disabled people around the world live the lives they choose.’
If you’d like to take part in London marathon 2018 to raise money for Leonard Cheshire, early bird places are £75 and you can sign up now.
For follow up media enquiries please email Claire Farrell or call 020 3242 0204. Out of hours: 07903 949388. General press office number: 020 3242 0399.