On May 4th Matt Fox will be taking part in the Isle of Wight Challenge, a formidable race that will see him running around the entirety of the island’s coastline – a distance of 106 km that equates to two and a half marathons.
He’s undertaking the challenge to raise money for Hospice UK, as he and his family have had close friends and relatives cared for by hospices over the years. One of them was Matt’s grandmother.
“My nana was treated and cared for at Garden House Hospice in Letchworth before she passed away in 1996” he explains. “She was a day patient at the hospice, so she used to go each week until she became poorly enough to warrant being there full time. She was quite grumpy and stuck in her ways on the one hand, but I remember she used to have a really good sense of humour, and she used to love going there on the weekly visits because they gave her a break from being in the house.
“Sometimes it’s difficult being really close to the people who care for you the most. When she went for the day she was with people she could socialise with. She really loved that sort of escape, for want of a better word, being able to get out of our house and away from the poorliness of her condition, and spend the day in an environment which was actually quite relaxing and a bit different for her.
“That was one of the things that really struck me, that hospices are very unique from that perspective. They’re not just places where you go to spend your last moments, they’re also places for you to be amongst people who are perhaps in the same situation, and around people who care for you. They also give the families an opportunity to have a breather. People often talk about hospices in that way, they’re very powerful for both the patient and for the people close to them.”
While Matt’s grandmother was being cared for at the hospice, his mum was a volunteer for the charity. After 11 years volunteering at Garden House Hospice and following a move to Gloucestershire, she began volunteering at Sue Ryder Leckhampton, where she has been since 2003.
This is not the first time Matt has raised money for Hospice UK – in 2005 he ran the London Marathon along with his wife for the charity when it was called Help the Hospices.
While the London race is a considerable 42 km, Matt is training to run more than twice this distance. “I did 20 miles on Saturday and 10 miles on Sunday, I got a day off on Monday and was back on it Tuesday through to the end of the week. It’s been fine but pretty intense – my wife thinks I’ve finally lost my marbles!”
Matt is aiming to raise £1350 for Hospice UK. So far he has reached 85 per cent of his target, and additionally his employers, Microsoft, have offered to match whatever amount he raises.
In terms of his aim for the race itself, he says “it starts at 7 o’ clock in the morning and if I can be done in 15 to 20 hours, that would be good. If I could finish before it got dark that would be amazing, but equally as it’s the first time I’m doing something like this finishing is the only goal I have!”
For more information visit Matt’s JustGiving page