This month.....

Just a couple of little runs for two exceptional charities

When Chris Brasher and John Disley started to think about organising a marathon in London they looked at the New York Marathon as a model. The New York Marathon started in 1970, so by the time Chris and John went to look it had been running for 10 years. Much was learned from looking at the New York Marathon that helped set up the London Marathon, which was first run in 1981.

But there was one thing that Chris and John noticed about the New York Marathon and that was how few people were running to raise money for a charity and those that were doing so were predominantly coming from one particular country; Great Britain. Charities in the USA have tended to raise money by asking individuals for a direct pledge. Sponsored events were very rare, certainly in those days. From the very beginning the London Marathon had a very large proportion of runners who were running to raise money for charities and running for a cause is one of the reasons why such events in this country are so popular.

I’ve been running Marathons and Half Marathons to raise money for a charity that is very close to my heart, Parkinson’s UK. For 10 years now and over those years people have been very generous in their sponsorship. I’ll be running the Great North Run for Parkinson’s UK for the umpteenth time on 9th September, see if you can spot me - my running number is 6665, there will only be about 56999 other runners, so I should be easy to spot!

Although I’ve consistently run for Parkinson’s UK I have run for other charities and this year I’ll also be running the Great Bristol Half Marathon on the 23rd September, I don’t have my number quite yet. This wasn’t in my original plans for the autumn, my plan was to do the GNR as per normal and then a Marathon in October. I don’t enter many of these events as the vast majority are on a Sunday which isn’t very helpful for clergy.

So, when Katrine Musgrave, Christian Aid’s regional coordinator for Wiltshire, discovered that I ran and invited me to be part of a team that she was putting together to run the Bristol Half my initial reaction was that I couldn’t take another Sunday off. But then I started to think that this was an opportunity to not only raise money for Christian Aid but to help raise Christian Aid’s profile locally. So still not committed to taking part I consulted the Churchwardens, the rural dean and even the Archdeacon and all the replies I received basically said “go for it!”. Well I felt committed at that point so in went my entry.

I’ve been a fairly passive supporter of Christian Aid for so many years I forget how long. I’ve a monthly standing order that goes to them and I’ve taken part in house to house collections in many of the parishes that I’ve worked in. When I worked in the most ethnically diverse parish in the country I was amazed at how generous the Muslim community were, there is a Muslim equivalent of Christian Aid, Islamic Relief which like Christian Aid is a part of the Disasters Emergency Committee. DEC is made up of 13 major charities and when there is an emergency all these charities pull together raising money that is used by the charities that are in the area. So, money raised through DEC by CAFOD might fund workers from World Vision. It’s a wonderful way that emergency need can be most swiftly and effectively met.

Anyway back to Christian Aid, my Muslim neighbours would tell me that they supported Christian Aid because they knew about that fantastic work that the charity does in so many parts of the world. Christian Aid normally works with partner charities, local charities who know the needs and the situation in an area and have the local knowledge of what is actually needed. I remember back in my childhood stories of tractors being sent to parts of Africa that couldn’t be repaired when they broke down because there were no spare parts and no mechanics to fix them; tractors that were only a few months old sat and rusted away. It was the wrong solution to a problem and no one had asked the people receiving the tractors what they needed they just presumed to know what the solution was.

Christian Aid works with its partners to find solutions to problems using its ability to raise money and find skilled people to help local people address local problems. They also work to enable people to become self-supporting. It’s that old saying about giving a person a fish and you feed them for a day, teaching them to fish and you feed them forever. Often these projects don’t actually cost very much so money given to Christian Aid goes a long way and does a lot of good.

So, this September I’m going to be a bit cheeky and run two Half Marathons for two very wonderful charities and I’m also going to be cheekier and ask you to support me.

My Christian Aid page is at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/richard-curtis11

My Parkinson’s UK page is at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/RichardCurtis

And though I’ve got my October Marathon in the diary I’ve not actually entered that yet, I just need to get a few long runs in and the 9th and 23rd September will count! If I do enter I’d be happy to receive sponsorship for either of these charities for that too!

Best wishes from a very cheeky Team Rector

Richard Curtis