Son of late local Half Marathon founder pays tribute to his father by running event across the pond

The son of the late local community champion Noel Kelleway will be participating in the virtual format of the Southend Half Marathon in June to honor his legacy and the event he co-founded.

James Kelleway, 37, was due to fly over to Southend from his home in Mississippi, USA last summer for a special appearance at the event’s 25th anniversary as a tribute to his father who died early last year but sadly due its cancellation because of the pandemic this couldn’t go ahead. Instead for this year’s virtual event James will be running a half marathon remotely in the USA over the weekend of 12th and 13th June to celebrate the anniversary of the event which his father co-founded all those years ago and as a tribute to his father Noel.

As a keen runner and community champion of Southend, Noel Kelleway co-founded the Southend Half Marathon back in 1995 and the event has raised in excess of £1.1 million for hospice charity Havens Hospices over the years which cares for people of all ages living with complex or incurable conditions.

Noel spent much of his time giving back to the community by volunteering for many local charities, clubs, associations and other good causes including Havens Hospices. Noel prepared the original business plan for Fair Havens Hospice and was instrumental in advising on the financial aspects.

James said: “Running was a huge part of Dad’s life and so was giving back to his community and charity work, particularly his involvement with Havens Hospices – the two were intertwined.

“Since Dad helped form the business plan for Fair Havens he started fundraising with them to help raise the much-needed funds to provide hospice care to the local community.  Dad was one of those people who loved to get involved and turn a hobby into something that does good for the community so along with the other founders, he saw an opportunity to put Southend on the map for the running community while raising money for the local hospice.”

James remembers fondly the times he spent running with his dad, but this will be his first time running in the event albeit it not being in its usual format. He said: “I used to run a bit with Dad when I was a boy but only really picked up the running ‘bug’ over the last few years. I’m really glad I was able to get out and run a few times with Dad over his last couple of years, including a 5K when he came to visit me at the end of 2018.

“The Southend Half has been a huge part of my family’s lives for as long as it has been going. Beyond Dad’s involvement I think we have all been involved in marshalling over the years and my sister Sarah ran it in 2013. I was lucky to be over at the time to see her effortlessly cruise in!”

For James running the Half Marathon closer to home is bittersweet. “On the one hand, I’m excited to be involved in the first race I’ve participated in since Covid but on the other, this was a race I was planning on running in person with Dad watching. Before the pandemic took off, I’d been training to run a personal best marathon in May and wanted to follow it up with a personal best at the 2020 Southend Half. As much as I do love running, I always got a kick out of it being something that I could connect with Dad on and I could tell he was proud of me finally picking it up. Unfortunately, all my race plans fell through due to Covid and it’s been hard to motivate myself to get back to my personal best fitness levels, but it will be fun to run regardless – although I’d much rather be doing it in Southend rather than the Mississippi heat!

“Havens Hospices has been a huge part of the Kelleway family household for as long as I can remember. Dad was a larger-than-life character who managed to fit so much in – I’ve got no idea how he managed it! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to match the good that he did, but I’m glad I can play a small part by helping Havens Hospices in this run while helping to keep his legacy going.”

Every person who registers to take part in the Southend Half Marathon will be supporting Havens Hospices which includes Fair Havens, Little Havens and The J’s. The local hospice charity cares for children, young people and adults living with complex or incurable conditions from across Essex. This free, specialised care is there for as long as it’s needed, within the home and at the charity’s two hospices, but can only continue thanks to people’s kind donations and sponsorship, such as those raised through events like the Southend Half Marathon.

To take part in this year’s Southend Half Marathon where participants can run 13.1 miles anywhere across the weekend of 12th and 13th June in one or more runs, visit

Registration costs £16 per person and once runners have completed their half marathon, they will receive a special commemorative medal. For more information, please email Jane Hopkins at or call 01702 221658.


Published 21st May 2021


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Noel Kelleway and James running in Mississippi in 2018