Runners continue to support local hospice care by taking on the London Marathon closer to home

50 ‘Team Havens’ runners completed their own virtual London Marathon despite the rainy weather, running 26.2 miles closer to home in aid of Havens Hospices.

After the cancellation of the Virgin Money London Marathon this year, the runners chose to run their own virtual marathon course on Sunday 4th October so they could raise vital funds for the charity which provides palliative and supportive care to adults and children and their families across Essex.

So far, ‘Team Havens’ collectively has raised approximately £75,000 for the charity.

30 of the ‘Team Havens’ runners chose to run a 26.2 mile course – in socially distanced groups – starting at Little Havens in Thundersley, across the Southend area and back to the children’s hospice. The remaining runners ran in other parts of Essex closer to their homes.

One of those who ran in the Chelmsford area was Lucy Johnson who participated in aid of the charity which is very close to her heart. Lucy’s son Harry, 12, attends Little Havens Hospice in Thundersley for respite breaks with his family.

In 2010 Harry was diagnosed with Leigh’s Syndrome, a form of Mitochondrial Disease – caused when there is a mutation to the mitochondrial part of the DNA. The family has been going to Little Havens for respite breaks since 2014.

She said, “‘I have always been so grateful for all the support that Little Havens has given me and my family. Running the marathon is my way of giving something back. Whenever we visit the hospice, we all have such an amazing time. For me, my time at Little Havens is to spend quality time with my children without the stresses and strains that having a child with a life-limiting diagnosis brings.”

She adds, “At the time of being referred to Little Havens, I couldn’t get my head around the fact that going to a hospice was going to be a positive experience – how wrong I was! It’s a place that is always filled with so much love, laughter and fun, even though every family there is facing the fact that there is no cure for their child’s illness.  However, over the years during some of our stays I have also witnessed families arrive at the hospice knowing that their child has only a matter of hours to live. I have seen the utter devotion and care the hospice staff give to the families and this is my way of giving something back to them so the charity can continue to provide this essential hospice care to everyone who needs it, whenever they need it.”

This was Lucy’s second time running the London Marathon after participating with her brother back in 2018. This year she ran alongside her friend Leonie and two other marathon runners who live in her village Great Waltham.

The group ran a socially distanced marathon loop around Great Waltham, Little Waltham and Howe Street with their family and friends cheering and running alongside them on along the route, including Harry who was waiting for his mother at the finish line.

She said: “The training for the Marathon was hard this time round. Pre-lockdown I was very much ready and training was going really well but getting the long runs done over the summer months once restrictions started to ease was quite a challenge.

“However, I was determined and my motivation throughout the training and the marathon was to give back as much as I can to Havens Hospices who have always been there for me, Harry and my two daughters. Sunday was the most incredible day despite the not so amazing weather. Leonie and I have smashed our fundraising target of £5,000.”

Mary Bye, 57, from South Woodham Ferrers also chose to run the virtual London Marathon this year for Havens Hospices along with four friends and fellow members of the South Woodham Running Club, Beccy, Jo and Fran.

She said: “Running around South Woodham was always going be a particular challenge as it is not very big, a grand total of six miles if you go all the way around the very edge, so we did the course in laps. The running club allocated a runner to each of us for each lap, so that we never had to run on our own. We also had five houses who offered water or toilet stops, which we did our best to make Covid secure.”

Mary and her friends also found training for the Marathon tough throughout lockdown: “Lockdown was very demotivating and having to run on your own was hard. To motivate each other we set up a WhatsApp group and we chatted every day and once a week did a video call. As soon as we were allowed to train together again, we trained through every weather imaginable: heat, wind and rain. It has been a very long journey – with the uncertainly around whether the marathon would happen or not it was hard to train properly.”

“All of us have been through some major life events in our personal lives too but we were all determined to finish on Sunday whether we walked or ran! It was such an incredible feeling to finish, and we all feel a totally amazing sense of achievement to have done this. It wasn’t just all about running a marathon – the journey all of us experienced together certainly brought all of us closer together and strengthened our group friendship.”

Beccy Mae-Rose, Mary’s friend and running partner said on the day after completing the marathon: “I have never looked back and have gained three friends for life – I feel super lucky to be able to run and meet such amazing and inspirational people.”

Judy Grocott, Voluntary Income Manager at Havens Hospices said, “Virgin Money London Marathon usually raises approximately £200,000 for Havens Hospices every year and we rely on this income to fund our essential hospice care. Although we were disappointed that the usual London Marathon event couldn’t take place, we were relieved that a virtual marathon was scheduled in its place for those who had trained so hard for it and continue to raise money for the charity.

“I was at Little Havens on the day along with some amazing volunteers to cheer our ‘Team Havens’ runners on and although there wasn’t thousands of people there like at the real marathon, the runners were still in high spirits determined to finish for Havens Hospices, despite the horrible weather. They were all absolutely incredible and some even achieved personal bests.

“It costs £6,000 a day to provide our specialist palliative and supportive care and we can’t thank each runner enough for their determination and their generosity by taking part and continuing to raise vital funds for our care, ‘Making every day count’.”

Havens Hospices is always on the lookout for more runners to join ‘Team Havens’ and take part in Virgin Monday London Marathon to raise vital funds for the charity. The ballot is now open to participate in next year’s Virgin Money London Marathon scheduled to take place on 3 October 2021, visit to enter the ballot.

Published 6th October 2020

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Lucy and her daughters after running her virtual London Marathon