Over 30 runners will be taking part in the London Marathon in aid of Demelza later this month.
Ben Smith is running Brighton Marathon on 17 April and London Marathon on 24 April after Demelza provided respite and end of life care for his sister-in-law, Catriona.
Catriona was born with an immune deficiency. She was in and out of hospital during her life but came to Demelza SEL in Eltham for some treatments.
Ben said: “We spent time there as a family. It was a nice environment. It didn’t feel medical”.
And he explained how important Demelza was to the family when the 13-year-old passed away.
“It gave all the family comfort that the facility provided an environment to say goodbye to Catriona.”
Catriona died on 3 March 2012 and Ben has been spurred on to fundraise for Demelza since then.
He said: “After that experience I wanted to do some running for Demelza.”
The 37-year-old from Sidcup has been running for about 10 years and has done about 16 marathons already:
He explained: “You either do one and never do them again or do one and just keep doing them. It’s a good way of keeping fit.”
Among the other 33 runners taking part is Catherine Shearer, a house mistress and teacher at The Kings School in Canterbury.
It is Catherine’s first marathon and she has the backing of her class who have done lots of fundraising for Demelza in the past. Each tutor group will be running a marathon between them over the weekend of the London Marathon. That is seven marathons over the course of the weekend in total including Catherine’s.
Catherine (pictured) said: “It was my decision to support Demelza when I first took over Broughton House for a few reasons. Firstly I used to read a column in the local newspaper by a young lady called Nicole who promoted Demelza and highlighted what a special charity it is. I was fortunate to visit an open evening with a couple of my students and this was reinforced. The girls were inspired by the visit too and it was evident that every penny raised went into something beneficial. Since then, we have developed this relationship and would like to continue to do so.”
Stephen Smith is taking on Brighton and then London Marathon a week later.
He says: “The Brighton Marathon for me in 2015 was extremely tough but with my thoughts on raising funds for Demelza it kept me going. During the Brighton Marathon I collapsed due to a chest infection. After treatment at mile 25 for three hours I still got up and finished the last mile. What I did was nothing to what Demelza stands for in helping families every day to bring a little sparkle into their lives.
“Did the experience of what happened to me put me off? No, I am now preparing to raise more awareness for Demelza by completing Brighton Marathon on 17 April, then the following week, 24 April the London Marathon.
“I am totally focused to do my best and finish both marathons by proudly crossing the line with my Demelza vest on. I look forward to seeing familiar faces as we take on the challenge!”
Naomi Saxon from Crowborough, East Sussex is also taking on 26 miles for #TeamDemelza.
She said: “I first came across Demelza at the Penshurst Craft fair in 2015, where the representative from the charity was talking passionately about the work the charity do and encouraging people to sign up to the weekly lottery. I was hugely moved and inspired upon hearing how Demelza support children and their families through what must be incredibly difficult circumstances. I signed up to the lottery straight away.
“Following this I started to think about other opportunities to fundraise. I have always wanted to do a marathon and saw a potential opportunity to raise more money for Demelza at the same time as fulfilling a personal goal. I feel both privileged and excited about running the 2016 London Marathon.”