Sheffield fundraisers make marathon effort in London

Damina thacker and Luke three legged marathon
Damina thacker and Luke three legged marathon

Completing the London Marathon is tough enough, but two friends from Sheffield took it one step further - and turned it into a three-legged challenge.

Damian Thacker, aged 42 and Luke Symonds, 28, took part in the 26-mile race to raise money for Sheffield Children’s Hospital, where Damian’s son, Jem, was treated in the burns unit.

When Jem was just 10 months old he knocked a cup of tea over himself, suffering burns to his face, shoulder, arm and abdomen.

In 2014, Damian, from Hathersage, ran 40 marathons in 34 weeks raising £4,000 for the hospital.

The dad-of-three and physiotherapist said: “After seeing how well Jem was looked after, I just wanted to give something back to the hospital.

“It was my 40th birthday in 2014 so I thought why not go for 40 marathons? I think my wife thought I was mad but she agreed that it was a very worthy cause and meant a lot to the both of us.

“After a year off last year I thought it was about time to get off my butt and attempt something new for Sheffield Children’s Hospital. I say I, but this time I ‘roped’ a friend in as well.” Luke added: “I though Damian was joking when he first suggested a three legged marathon but I should have known better.

“All my friends and family think we’re a little mad but it’s for a good cause.

“As a father-to-be I’m well aware of all the good work the Children’s Hospital has done over the years. We’re really lucky to have it in Sheffield.”

Damian and Luke trained for their three-legged challenge by completing the Hillsborough 5k Parkrun event in Hillsborough Park.

Tonya Kennedy, event fundraiser for The Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “It’s a big challenge to run a marathon on your own let alone with another person tied to you.

“Everyone who runs for The Children’s Hospital Charity really does make a different to the thousands of patients who visit Sheffield Children’s Hospital. With runners like these two we can transform the hospital into a world-class facility to match the world-class care already provided on the wards.”

The money raised will help create two new physiotherapy rooms on a new wing under construction.

A Sheffield woman whose sister is battling cancer put her running shoes on yesterday.

Harriet Fryatt, 23, from Bradfield, ran for Macmillan Cancer Support, with her older sister Charley fighting a form of cancer affecting her internal organs.

Their dad has also battled liver, bowel and bladder cancer and their grandmother died of breast cancer.

She was joined by her uncle, Clive Downing, 53, a member of Hillsborough Golf Club, whose members have donated over £1,700 - taking their total to around £7,000.

Harriet said: “Running to raise money for Macmillan means the world to my uncle and I. We are raising as much money as we can for this amazing charity that have helped our family over the years and help so many people in similar situations every day.

“I really hope the money we raise will support others like us going through the same pain.”

Macmillan Cancer Support provides practical, medical, emotional and financial support to those suffering from cancer.

Another Sheffield woman inspired by her sister to run the London Marathon was Kelly Mackenzie.

The 32-year-old, from Nether Edge, ran for Epilepsy Action, with her sister, Charlotte, among 600,000 people with epilepsy in the UK.

Kelly said: “Epilepsy Action has been an amazing resource for my family.

“I am a doctor, so I learnt about the theory of epilepsy in medical school. But, you can never fully appreciate how the condition impacts on the life of a person and their family until you experience it.”

Kelly hopes to raise £2,500 for Epilepsy Action, which campaigns to improve epilepsy services and raise awareness of the condition.

It also provides a national network of support groups and has a freephone and email helpline.

Former Sheffield Sharks basketball player Richard Windle took part in the London Marathon yesterday to raise cash for charity while marking his 40th birthday.

The dad-of-two, who was part of the England basketball team which won a bronze medal in the 2006 Commonwealth Games and now works at Ashgate Croft School, Chesterfield, ran the event for the NSPCC children’s charity.

Ahead of the race he said: “Not all children have the same chances in life.”