Sheffield mum who ran cancelled Percy Pud 2023 alone in memory of daughter 'overwhelmed' by support

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“I just thought, I’m here now, let’s just set off and hope for the best."

Rebekah Ridge wasn’t going to let a little thing like Storm Elin put her off from running Sheffield’s Percy Pud. She was already in the elf costume, after all.

What she didn’t expect was the outpouring of support from the Steel City’s running community for trudging ahead.

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Rebekah Ridge arrived at Sheffield's Percy Pud 2023 on December 10 to find it had been sadly cancelled. She decided that wasn't going to stop her running in memory of her daughter.Rebekah Ridge arrived at Sheffield's Percy Pud 2023 on December 10 to find it had been sadly cancelled. She decided that wasn't going to stop her running in memory of her daughter.
Rebekah Ridge arrived at Sheffield's Percy Pud 2023 on December 10 to find it had been sadly cancelled. She decided that wasn't going to stop her running in memory of her daughter. | Rebekah Ridge

Now, the Loxley teacher wants to thank the dozens of strangers who saw her have a go at the sorely-missed charity run and donated to her fundraiser set up in memory of her baby daughter.

The 36-year-old was not originally signed up for the beloved annual event, which sees hundreds of runners take on a 10km route by Damflask Reservoir for no more reward than fundraising for Sheffield Children’s Hospital and a free Christmas pudding at the end.

But when the event’s original date on December 3 was called off by bad weather and rescheduled to the next Sunday, she was given a race number by her friend’s husband, Dan Contrie, who said to give it a go in his stead.

Rebekah may have been the only runner at the Percy Pud 2023 - there wasn't even an event, in fact - but she still got her Christmas pud as a reward.Rebekah may have been the only runner at the Percy Pud 2023 - there wasn't even an event, in fact - but she still got her Christmas pud as a reward.
Rebekah may have been the only runner at the Percy Pud 2023 - there wasn't even an event, in fact - but she still got her Christmas pud as a reward. | Rebekah Ridge

Sadly, the Percy Pud 2023 was not to be. Storm Elin swept into town and left organisers no choice on December 10 but to cancel the event for the year.

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Rebekah said: "I got down there pretty early at 8.30am. The organisers were battling with the marquees that were blowing over in the wind.

"They were devastated to have to cancel it completely."

But by that point, Rebekah was already at the start line, already in her elf costume, and ready to take the risk on her own. 

"I just thought, I’m here now, let’s just set off and hope for the best.

"They were right to cancel it. There was flooding all along the dam wall. There were twigs and debris everywhere. I could get by on my own but you couldn’t imagine hundreds of people trying to run it safely."

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Since there were no other runners and no event to begin with, Rebekah has humbly turned down telling anyone she came first place at the Percy Pud 2023.

But she did get her Christmas pudding and a hat from the organisers, all the same.

Although she was not signed up for the event originally, Rebekah was already a star fundraiser for Sheffield Children’s Hospital and had every reason to take the challenge.

Rebekah with husband Nic, son Tiffin and baby Paprika. A fundraiser set up in Paprika's memory has raised over £3,500.Rebekah with husband Nic, son Tiffin and baby Paprika. A fundraiser set up in Paprika's memory has raised over £3,500.
Rebekah with husband Nic, son Tiffin and baby Paprika. A fundraiser set up in Paprika's memory has raised over £3,500. | Rebekah Ridge

"My daughter, Paprika, was born 24 weeks premature in 2023," said Rebekah.

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"Jessop’s special care unit at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital looked after her, me and my family afterwards. She passed away three weeks old in June.

"I threw myself into running afterward for my mental health. When I did a 5k a few weeks after having a caesarean I remember just thinking ‘yep, I can still do this’."

A fundraiser set up for Sheffield Children’s Hospital after Paprika’s funeral had already raised more than £3,000 by the beginning of December. And it was about to get a boost from Sheffield’s running community.

After coming first place as the only runner at the Percy Pud 2023, Rebekah posted a photo from the finish line on Facebook - where it was shared to the group page for the Steel City Striders, one of Sheffield’s largest running communities.

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Rebekah's decorative pebble for the Percy Pud 2023. After the 'race', she went to see Paprika in Wisewood Cemetery and left it at her grave with all her family and friends' other pebbles.Rebekah's decorative pebble for the Percy Pud 2023. After the 'race', she went to see Paprika in Wisewood Cemetery and left it at her grave with all her family and friends' other pebbles.
Rebekah's decorative pebble for the Percy Pud 2023. After the 'race', she went to see Paprika in Wisewood Cemetery and left it at her grave with all her family and friends' other pebbles. | rebekah ridge

Within a day, Rebekah was shocked to see dozens of complete strangers had donated a total of more than £250 to her fundraising page. It now stands at £3,514.

Rebekah said: "The messages of support and encouragement on the page were overwhelming. I couldn’t believe how these strangers to me were happy to donate to my page.

"My daughter is buried in Wisewood Cemetery, right next to the race course.

"At her funeral, my sister-in-law Ania organised painting for everyone to decorate a pebble so we have something to take to her grave.

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"Ahead of the race, I decorated a pebble with the Percy Pud mascot and the route on it and planned to take it next door to her after the run.

"Well, even if the race wasn’t on, I wanted to do that anyway and see her. Now, I’m going to sign up for next year’s as well and it’s going to be an annual tribute."

To learn more or to donate to Paprika's fundraising page, visit the website at: https://paprikaridge.muchloved.com/

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