Fundraiser Craig Whiteley and friends Matt Coyne and Adam Haigh raised an incredible £5,437 for Martlets on Sunday 17th March by taking part in a staggering nine Park Runs, to complete the same distance as a marathon. Here is Craig's story

I am raising money for the hospice that is caring for my mother-in-law, Elaine Clifford. 

Martlets has helped Elaine to manage her disease and stay in her own home, living as normal a life as possible surrounded by her family and friends.

So, I wanted to raise funds for Martlets, as their care and support has been a huge help to my family and to other local people that we know.

The 'A' team in a campervan

 Before we began running, I thought that it was going to be a long day, and I was right!  The first one was quite easy, but they started to feel trickier at about four runs in; gradually feeling like they were getting longer as the day went on.  The seafront runs were the toughest, since we were running into the battering wind.

 We travelled between Park Runs in a campervan driven by Elaine’s sister in law and brother in law, Jackie and Paul Clifford.  We must have looked like the ‘A’ Team arriving at each run, throwing open the doors, hopping out and running!

 Jackie and Paul really kept us going with their relentless support, food and drink; they were with us through thick and thin and were the only people cheering us on as we battled the wind at Bevendean! 

Amelie and Autumn's pop up cake shop

 My wife Rebecca, who is Elaine’s daughter, and our own two daughters, Amelie (7) and Autumn (4) had made cakes and set up a pop-up cake shop out of the back of the campervan at each stop.  Whenever anyone passed them, they just shouted ‘cakes’ and managed to raise £250.

 Amelie joined me for some of the runs and we think she did about 17km in total.  Autumn ran a little way too – although she was very busy concentrating on running the cake shop and making money for Martlets!

An incredibly emotional experience

This was an incredibly emotional experience, especially since Elaine managed to make it to the last four Park Runs in her wheelchair.  It was overwhelming to feel the love and support from everyone, I’d thought we’d have just a few people turning up, but over the day we had about 250 supporters - some of whom travelled with us to each of the runs.

 I have to say that it was one of my most favourite days on planet Earth; to see our community come together to do such an incredible thing.  So many children joined us, including the students from our performing arts school – their support was amazing.

It’s something that I think we’ll definitely do again; I’d like to make it an annual fundraising event for the hospice.  Martlets is such an incredible charity to raise money for and this was a real celebration of their work.

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