Have you ever been in one of those job interviews where they ask you what your weaknesses are? Put on the spot, you never know what to say. Is there any such thing as a good weakness? With the benefit of not being in a stressful situation, I can confidently say that spontaneity is one of my weaknesses. Because every now and then, I do something a bit reckless. There’s usually wine involved, like the time my friend and I drank a bottle of rosé and ended up in Venezuela. Often though, my impulsive actions lead me to find myself, months later, on the starting line of a race. This year’s London marathon is no exception.
Getting a ballot place in the London Marathon
I ran my first London Marathon 16 years ago. I’d never done a half marathon before and hadn’t trained anywhere near as much as I should have done. Despite that, the incredible atmosphere carried me around. Of course, I got to the end and vowed I’d never do it again, as you would if you’d run a marathon without training for it. As the years ticked by, I always watched the annual spectacle unfold on television. I slowly forgot the pain of running and remembered the atmosphere and the sense of being part of something amazing. And last year, social media was full of people applying for the ballot. On impulse (of course), I applied.
Fast forward to October last year, and again, social media was awash with talk of the London marathon. I was ready for my rejection letter and heard the postman push it through the door. I didn’t bother to get up and fetch it because I knew what it was. So, it was as bit of a shock when I grabbed it as I walked past and realised that it was in fact an acceptance. I’d got a ballot place. I had decided to bequeath my entry fee to charity, which meant that when I’d been unsuccessful in the first ballot, they’d entered me into a second one. This second ballot has 1000 places available, and I’d received one of them.
Running for charity
Once I’d got over the shocking realisation that I had to train all Winter and run 26 miles, I realised this was a great opportunity. Whilst I was under no obligation to raise money, I could use it as a way to help out some brilliant charities. So, I’ve chosen to fundraise for two charities whose work is really important to me.
Boxer and Bully Saviours
Boxer and Bully Saviours is a small charity that rescues and rehomes boxer and bull breed dogs throughout the UK. They found me the perfect running buddy who has been there every step of the way through my marathon training.
When we lost our old staffy Soxa, we didn’t want another dog. Pluto would be fine on his own and it would be easier just having one dog. After a few months though, it became apparent that Pluto wasn’t great at being the only dog. He was glum, rarely moving from his bed. He’d plod around his walks each day but never show much enthusiasm for anything. I decided another dog would be good for him and for us. I hoped it would give Pluto his spark back, and it would get me out running again. Pluto had long since retired from running, with the exception of running home to bed whenever I let him off the lead.
My husband worried about getting a dog while the children were young. He wanted a puppy due to concerns about a rescue dog not getting being good with children. I wasn’t willing to get a dog that wasn’t a rescue because I didn’t feel it was morally the right thing to do. Lots of rescues won’t consider a family with young children, so we were stuck. Then a friend mentioned Boxer and Bully Saviours.
Their dedicated team of fosterers look after dogs in their own homes until the right forever home is found. So, they really get to know the dogs. They know what they’re like with other dogs, cats and children. I got in touch, and before long I received an email about a cute, 16 week old puppy. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Ronald McDonald House Charities
Ronald McDonald House Charities provide a place for families to stay when they need it the most. All their houses are located next to children’s hospitals. They provide free accommodation and support for the families of children in hospital. A home-from-home environment, where families can stay together. There are Houses across the UK, and this year the Charity are celebrating supporting families for 30 years and in this time they have helped 50,000 families stay close to their child in hospital.
I visited Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham 18 months ago. It struck me that this had the potential to be an incredibly sad place. All these families are going through unimaginable suffering, with a child seriously ill in hospital. Surprisingly though, the atmosphere in the house was calm and upbeat. Staff, volunteers and fundraisers go to great lengths to ensure that everyone feels at home. There are activities for children, places to play, read and watch television and each family has their own room.
Ronald McDonald House Charities often struggle with fundraising due to lack of understanding. People either don’t know they exist, or think they’re funded by McDonalds. In fact, that’s not the case. They are the chosen charity for McDonald’s, and in 2018 customers raised £3 million from collection boxes in McDonald’s restaurants. Staff, suppliers and owners of McDonalds restaurants fundraise for them too, but that’s not enough.
It costs £25 per night for a family to stay in a Ronald McDonald House. The charity is always striving to make them better and more homely. They also want to build more, and accommodate more families.
Donating to my chosen charities
I’ve set up a fundraising page through Virgin Money Giving. Through this platform, all money raised will go to the charities. Additionally, you can choose to make a donation that is specifically for one of these charities. Simply leave a note when you donate to say where you want the money to go, and I can make sure it goes to that charity. My fundraising page is here and all donations will be hugely appreciated by both charities and put to good use.