Pull your running shoes on for Sue Ryder
By David Wood
With January seeing many people setting new goals and challenges, one Gloucestershire charity is appealing to local residents to pull on their running shoes and sign up to Run Cheltenham.
Sue Ryder is this year's Run Cheltenham headline charity partner and the local hospice, Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, hopes to turn Cheltenham's streets blue and white on Sunday 4th September 2022.
Bag yourself a New Year early bird deal on entry and join hundreds of runners donning the famous 'Team Sue Ryder' running vests across the Mile, 10km and Half Marathon distances.
One Gloucestershire resident who has already secured her place on the start line is Jessica Thomas, aged 41 from Cheltenham, who was inspired to sign up for the 2022 event after completing last year's event in memory of her dad, Andrew Hiscox.
"I was immensely proud to run and wear the Sue Ryder vest," said Jessica. "Sue Ryder were our guardian angels, our shining lights throughout the darkest of times with my beloved dad. I will be forever grateful to all the nurses and carers."
Jessica, who is mum to Isabella, 11, and Arthur, nine, took up running when her dad was first diagnosed with cancer and has found it to be not only good exercise but also beneficial for her mental wellbeing.
"I used to run past Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice on my running route. I have done a lot of my crying when I've been running - it just gives me that headspace. Dad thought I was mad but I signed up to do the Land's End to John O'Groats challenge and I did that in about six months. So as soon as I saw the Cheltenham Half Marathon advertised I decided I would get a place and run for Sue Ryder.
"I loved it. It was quite emotional when I started. A lot of people had the Sue Ryder vests on so it was lovely. It made it even more heartfelt because so many people were running to show that support."
Jessica's dad, Andrew, was cared for by the Hospice at Home team from Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice in the final weeks of his life at his home in Cheltenham where nurses visited him three times a day.
"My dad couldn't bear the thought that he couldn't look after himself but they were just so respectful of him," said Jessica. "Sometimes they were the only ones who could make him smile. I will be forever grateful. They were so kind and thoughtful and they really looked after him so well.
"We had thought Dad only had a couple of weeks but he actually had six or seven and I think a lot of that was down to the care that he had. The Sue Ryder nurses made him laugh and he really looked forward to seeing them."
The Sue Ryder team also supported Andy's family, arranging for a nurse to stay overnight to enable Jenny to get some much-needed rest.
"They were absolutely wonderful with Dad, so calm and patient, and also really supportive of my mum. I used to go round at night to help my mum until Sue Ryder arranged for a nurse to stay three or four times a week in the evening. They just genuinely cared which was really comforting."
Jessica hopes by sharing her story she can encourage more people to sign up to Run Cheltenham for Sue Ryder.
"My children were very proud of me after I completed it. They have even taken my medal into school to show everybody and my little boy has started cross country running now! I was so proud to run for Sue Ryder and I will do it every year now."
Run Cheltenham takes place on Sunday 4th September with options to run a Community Mile, 10k or Half Marathon.
People running for Sue Ryder will receive support every step of the way, including a Sue Ryder running vest or T-shirt, access to training tips and advice from Sue Ryder's very own professional coach, Nick, a cheer point on race day and plenty of food and drink to re-fuel after crossing the finish line.
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