Running novice and grandmother-of-two Maureen Godfrey, 63, from Windmill Road, Hemel Hempstead, was one of five runners who secured their own ballot places for Sunday’s London Marathon, raising an incredible £3,500 single-handedly for The Hospice of St Francis.
In total, the group - which included William Phimester, Scott Kemp, Andrew Turpin and Matthew Taylor – raised over £7,300 for the Berkhamsted charity, while Midsomer Murders actress Fiona Dolman raised £7,450 for Hospice UK, the national charity for hospice care, so that more people can receive the same love and care her father Gordon received from The Hospice of St Francis after he was diagnosed with myeloma five years ago and before he died in January of this year.
“I always do anything I can to support my local hospice because I know how much the Hospice relies on the local community to keep it going,” said Maureen, who only started running in January, but regularly takes part in the Hospice’s Bubble Rush, Midnight Walk and Santa Dash with her grandchildren.
“I love a challenge though and this year I decided to go the extra mile and I’m so glad I did. By mile 14 I was struggling a bit, but then I decided to powerwalk really fast and I started whizzing past people who were jogging really slow. What keeps you going is the crowds – the experience was absolutely amazing and I want to thank everyone who’s been so generous. I finished in 6 hours, 2 minutes but all that training three times a week in wind, rain and ice was worth it!”
Fiona Dolman, 49, who plays Sarah Barnaby, the wide of DCI John Barnaby in the hit TV series, had never run before but felt compelled to commit to completing 26 miles for charity, explaining: “I don’t know anyone whose life has not been touched by hospice care. My understanding had always been that a hospice was there right at the end of someones life - I had no idea of all the work and care they also provide during a person’s life.
“Our experience with The Hospice of St Francis has been invaluable and to have done the journey we did with my darling dad without them would have been unthinkable. They were there through everything . We felt like we had arms wrapped round us - I don’t know how people cope without that help. We were very blessed.
“I ran in memory of Dad for Hospice UK because Hospice UK is the national charity for hospice care. They champion and help 220 hospices throughout the country (of which St Francis is one) to provide care across the UK, so that they can deliver the highest quality of care to people with terminal or life limiting conditions, and support their families. Young and old, irrespective of faith, ethnicity and gender, hospices are there for them. There is a £2,700,000 million deficit in hospice funding, not per year, but per day.
“The more families that can have access to hospice care the better. Having started as a non-runner who hated running, I’m completely thrilled to have got round in 5 hours 45 minutes, just enjoying it, taking it all in and getting round calmly and methodically.
“All the way, people are screaming your name because it’s written on your shirt, and there’s something about that support that takes you out of yourself. It was just amazing.
“My knees and hips are shot to pieces and my body’s battered but it was so worth it - I remember Dad raising his eyebrows in a very deadpan way and saying: ‘Well that’s very unexpected’ when I told him I was going to do the London Marathon. He even put money aside to donate anonymously if I didn’t hit my £5k target, but I’m delighted that I smashed it and I know he’d be completely gobsmacked!”
Claire Jones, Hospice Challenge Events Fundraiser, said: “We are so proud of our 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon runners and so thankful that they chose to use their ballot place to support The Hospice of St Francis. We need every penny to help more people to live their precious lives well so we cannot thank them enough for their support. If you feel inspired by watching the London Marathon, do get in touch we have four charity places left in the Royal Parks Half Marathon!”
There’s also still time to sign up to the Hospice’s popular Bubble Rush in Gadebridge Park on Sunday 12 May - visit stfrancis.org.uk/bubblerush to register. There are spaces still available for the 12pm wave.