Call to the hospice cause

Categories: Community Engagement.

Andrew will be running his first marathon and is proudly supporting Help the Hospices at the same time. His motivation on the day will be a combination of personal determination and believing in a worthy cause.

A good friend of his completed the London Marathon in 3:57, so Andrew is now determined to finish in a sub four-hour time, mainly so he can say he has equalled his friend’s time – nothing like some friendly rivalry to spur you on.

“This is my first marathon and probably my last (although they all say that, don’t they!). I’ve always wanted to do one,” Andrew said.

“I took up running about three years ago but really never got much further than a regular parkrun (5k on a Saturday morning with my eldest daughter, followed by a sizeable breakfast). 

“For me, the marathon was one of those challenges I wanted to see if I could conquer. However, that was never enough motivation – I couldn’t conceive of undertaking such a massive personal goal without having more of a purpose attached to it and thus, it had to be for charity.” 

Choosing to support hospice care

Andrew first became aware of hospice care through his leader when he received his call to the Bar. She was involved with a local children’s hospice and had an obvious and infectious passion for the cause, which Andrew found himself following and then continuing after her death.

“Like so many people, I held the traditional, old-fashioned view of hospices – somewhere people go to die, somewhere you don’t really want to enquire too much about,” Andrew admitted.

“When I started at the Bar, I was led by (ie worked for in a very large case) a truly inspiring woman. She was well known for her insight, her humour and her warmth. She was heavily involved in Demelza House, a hospice for children in south London. 

“We were working long hours together and I suppose she infected me with her enthusiasm for Demelza as our conversations meandered round various topics. 

“She tragically died far too young; it was at that point that I started looking more into Demelza to see if I could help. I tried to promote their cause when I could and was particularly pleased when I managed to help get them appointed as my daughters’ school charity for several years.”

More recently, Andrew was reminded of the difference that hospices make to people’s experience at the end of life when a friend received hospice care while dying from cancer. The dignity of care, compassion and support the hospice gave during the final days inspired him to run for Help the Hospices.

“When I started marathon training, I had in mind that I would run for (Demelza). However, as I thought more about it, I wondered if I ought to run for hospices generally. That really came to a head during a memorial service for a friend who died last year. She had been in remission from cancer and had been away on holiday. She felt ill when she returned and passed away in a hospice shortly after. 

“Her family all spoke in such glowing terms of the warmth and support they had all received. That rather sealed it for me. Looking back, that ‘purpose’ has really helped on those cold winter nights and I hope it will spur me on around the course.” 

Motivation to train

Training for the marathon has had to be done during the long, cold winter months, this year being even colder and longer than usual.

“The weather has been both dismal and uplifting,” Andrew said. “I am now very good at running in cold weather! High points have all involved snow – my first 12 miler – the longest I had ever run at the time – was done on fresh snow in my local park at dusk. It was really quite poignant.

“But the cold has also been a huge test. Too many times I went out without gloves or misjudged quite how cold it was. One particular low point was a long run where my knee went at about the furthest point from home; I had forgotten my Oyster card and did not then carry any money when I ran. That was a freezing, dismal, wet and painful limp home. 

“What got me out again the next time (other than a few doses of Voltarol) was knowing that I was running for a truly worthy cause.”

Support from Help the Hospices

Andrew expressed his thanks and praise for the support, advice and enthusiasm of the events team at Help the Hospices.

“The Help the Hospices team has been a great source of support – whether it be fundraising tips, training tips through the Golden Bond day, organisation and just generally being there to remind you that it really is worth the pain! 

“I may not have the energy to thank them properly after the race so thanks once again to them all.”

Boston bombings will be on everyone’s mind

Andrew acknowledged that the explosions at the Boston Marathon will undoubtedly have an impact on everyone running the London Marathon on Sunday, but not in terms of fear, rather by making it even more meaningful and giving runners more purpose and strength.

He plans to wear his black ribbon (which all runners are being encouraged to do to show support for those killed and injured in the Boston bombing) with pride and expressed his thanks to the organisers of the Virgin London Marathon for organising it so swiftly.

“Words simply cannot express the contempt in which I hold the cowards who perpetrated the bombing earlier this week. It was simply that – an act of cowardice,” Andrew said.

“That they have destroyed countless lives will evidently mean nothing to them but I truly hope it serves to give strength to those running the Virgin London Marathon and to those who come to support them; I hope people turn out in record numbers to cock a snook at those who would seek to destroy our freedom.

“Every person on that course will have those killed and injured in Boston in their thoughts during the race. Those injured in Boston will be running with us, if only in the symbol.”

You can sponsor Andrew’s fundraising efforts via his Virgin Money Giving page. And if you are going to be in attendance on the day, give Andrew a big cheer as he runs by proudly wearing his Help the Hospices vest.

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