Sunday, 19 May 2024
Sunday, 19 May 2024

BBC Sports Journalist to run London Marathon for childhood bereavement charity

THE London Marathon is recognised as one of the most exhilarating race opportunities for marathon masters or those pursuing an impressive fitness challenge. It is also held as a beacon of light for the UK’s charities whose intrepid runners don their vests and lace up their boots to run the 26.2 miles through the capital, all while waving the flag for their chosen cause.

This April, Watford-based BBC broadcaster and journalist Ian Williams will be donning the coral crest of Winston’s Wish, the UK’s first children and young people’s bereavement charity. Ian explains what inspired him to raise vital funds for Winston’s Wish. He says, “As a sports journalist, I’ve always loved the London Marathon – it is an amazing event, and over the years I have watched it, run it and worked on it.  Whether toppling over exhausted or standing holding a microphone, there is something magical about being on the Mall at that finish line.

“After a gap of five years, this year I decided I had the energy to take on the 26.2-mile challenge again and, with great fortune, received a place in the ballot. I got the very sad news in December that a great former colleague of mine, another sports journalist, Russell Hargreaves, a familiar name to talkSPORT listeners, had suddenly passed away.

“Russ was a lovely guy, and it is so sad that he leaves behind his wife Rachel and three young children. After speaking to Rachel, I learned that the children were receiving support from Winston’s Wish. It seemed a no-brainer that I should do my bit to give back.

“It’s a cliché that everyone says kind things about someone when they pass away, but Russ really was one of the nicest people I’ve ever worked with in the media industry.  Always smiling, he had a fun, silly side that meant people quickly took to him. I first met him remotely via work – he was on the sports desk our radio network’s main newsroom in London while I was up in Manchester.

“When I talk about Russ’ death with people who did not know him, I often notice that their strongest reaction is not to news of his passing, but rather it is when I mention that he leaves behind such a young family. All of the children are 10 or under – and that fact elicits the strongest emotional response from others.

“It is the knowledge that people recognise how hard losing a parent can be for a child that makes me believe I chose the right charity to fundraise for in Russ’ honour because while I can visit the family and talk to the children, you still feel rather powerless in terms of your ability to help them.

“I’ve always found fundraising in memory of friends that I’ve lost to be fantastic motivation. Whenever things get tough and you wonder ‘why am I putting myself through this?’, you can think of your friends, and it helps to pull you through. Knowing that you’re also raising funds to help others is extra motivation. Knowing that I’m helping those at Winston’s Wish who do have the training and the skills to really make a difference is comforting to know.”

Each year Winston’s Wish supports more than 60,000 bereaved young people when their worlds are turned upside down by grief. As well as providing direct support to young people and creating a range of digital resources, from podcasts to advice articles, the charity also provides support to parents and professionals working in education, healthcare, and community settings to assist grieving young people.

The charity needs to raise £2.5 million every year in order to deliver its services free of charge to bereaved families across the country.

Winston’s Wish is grateful to everyone who gets involved with a fundraising initiative, whether that is by taking part in a marathon, skydiving or another sporting activity. If you would be interested in waving the banner for Winston’s Wish and raising important funds for the charity then take a look at the dedicated events webpage.

Winston’s Wish is keen to reassure bereaved young people and their families that they are welcome to chat online, email or call for free to speak to a bereavement support worker by calling 08088 020 021, emailing ask@winstonswish.org or using the live chat at: winstonswish.org.

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