Unsurprisingly, this year’s London Marathon (as we know it) could not take place due to the challenges presented by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. The cancellation of fundraising events up and down the country has had a catastrophic impact on many organisations’ ability to raise funds.

The Virgin Money London Marathon alone, which should have taken place on Sunday 26 April, is the world’s biggest one-day fundraising event, which raised more than £66.4 million for thousands of charities in 2019.

Many of these charities have had to reduce or stop services at a time when vulnerable members of society need them most; thousands of staff have been placed on furlough and many charities will not survive the next few months.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom! Some very special people out there decided that despite everything, they would continue with their fundraising and opted to run their own 26 miles on Sunday 4th October, the date the marathon was initially postponed to. Luckily for us, one of our supporters did exactly that and has raised over £3,000 for Childhood First! In the pouring rain, with the support of only a handful of his friends and family, Tom completed the 26.2 miles in under 3 hours! We are so grateful to have supporters like these and there is absolutely no doubt that any monies raised will have a significant impact on the lives of the children and young people in our care.

Here are some words from Tom:

The Virtual Marathon on October 4th, 2020 was my first marathon. It has long-been a challenge I wanted to take on but I always found an excuse not to sign up. Inspired by my brother’s outstanding efforts in the 2019 event, this year proved to be the year. However, I needed to be inspired, and that inspiration came from Childhood First.

As a father myself, and coming from a family with a history of mental illness, Childhood First felt like a perfect match. It was the children they look after, and those who dedicate their own lives to supporting the children, that gave me all the encouragement I needed to train and fundraise. On the training front, I have always enjoyed running (at sensible, non-marathon distances) and find it helps with my own mental wellness, so I had a platform to work from. I then developed and followed a 14-week training programme to prepare for a marathon. Due to COVID-19, the marathon was postponed from April 2020 to October 2020, meaning that the 14-week programme was completed twice! Never mind, running was much more enjoyable in the wonderful summer weather we had. On the fundraising side, well this has been effortless.We raised so much more than the target and nearly every donation came with words such as ‘what a great charity’ or ‘for a great cause’. It is the efforts of those at Childhood First, not mine, that led to my receiving so many donations.

COVID-19 proved an obstacle but was never going to be a prevention. I was always going to run, even if it meant on an unofficial basis. However, I have been so impressed with the organiser’s efforts to ensure we had a marathon of sorts. They recognised the importance of this event to everyone and the virtual approach I thought was really clever. Running at home also made it more special to me and reminded me of the importance of community and family – so many people from my home town and surrounding area came out in the rain to cheer me on – it is this spirit that clearly resonates in Childhood First.

Whilst I’ll keep running (and would encourage anyone to give it a go!), this will probably be my one and only marathon and, assuming that is the case, I’m so, so pleased that I ran for Childhood First and managed to contribute to this wonderful charity in a small way.