Runners tackle London Marathon to support Wigan and Leigh Hospice

Jon Leggott, Scott Barlow and Michael Mackenzie, who are running the London Marathon for Wigan and Leigh Hospice
Jon Leggott, Scott Barlow and Michael Mackenzie, who are running the London Marathon for Wigan and Leigh Hospice
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A secondary school teacher, a group of lifelong friends and an ultra-long-distance athlete are among the Wiganers who will run the London Marathon for a leading local charity.

Eight runners from the borough will pound the 26.2-mile course through the capital city’s streets to raise money for Wigan and Leigh Hospice (WLH).

Shaun Cunliffe with some of the Orrell St Peters pupils supporting him

Shaun Cunliffe with some of the Orrell St Peters pupils supporting him

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The Hindley-based charity will be represented in the annual athletics extravaganza by friends Jon Leggott, Scott Barlow and Michael Mackenzie, husband-and-wife Andrew and Charlotte Palin, teacher Shaun Cunliffe and solo runners Darren Harrison and Tom Ireland.

Most have personal reasons for wanting to put themselves through the gruelling day on the roads to help the hospice support and treat patients with life-limiting illnesses.

Of the runners impressive athlete Darren, from Orrell, should find the 26.2-mile distance little trouble as he has already completed four marathons as well as three Ironman triathlons and two ultra-marathons.

Darren said: “The hospice has recently provided exceptional care for a couple of my very close friends and I feel it is only right that I raise funds for the charity so that they can continue to provide the services that so many people rely on.”

Charlotte and Andrew Palin, Tom Ireland and Darren Harrison

Charlotte and Andrew Palin, Tom Ireland and Darren Harrison

Shaun, who is from Shevington, is hoping to provide something of a fund-raising lesson as he is combining training with his day job teaching at St Peter’s RC High School in Orrell, where his generous pupils have already begun donating to propel him towards his fund-raising target of £1,500.

He will be joined on the day by wife Lorraine who has won a ballot place and has decided to give any money she collects to the hospice as well, having already helped Shaun with his fund-raising.

Shaun’s fellow London Marathon debutant Tom, meanwhile, is taking on the challenge in memory of his stepdad Dave.

He said: “Dave played a massive part in my life and in the lives of so many so it is a big thing for me to complete the marathon in his memory.”

Far more experienced in marathon running is Jon, who is a director of the company WN1 Lighting Solutions and has done six previous London events in memory of his grandma.

This time though he will be joined by close friends Scott and Michael, who all went to Abraham Guest High School together, and the trio hope to bring in £3,000 between them.

Jon said: “My grandma passed away in the hospice a number of years ago, and the care she received was excellent. Also, last year a very close family friend passed away in the hospice which made me more determined to try and raise more money.”

Fund-raising for the hospice is clearly in the family as Jon’s daughter Amelie has already contributed £230 to the pot by completing the Wigan Family Mile.

While many runners seek to give something back to the hospice in thanks for the care given to loved ones, Lowton couple Andrew and Charlotte Palin have also got to know the charity’s work from the other side.

Charlotte’s mum worked as a nurse until her retirement in 2018 and it is her experiences, as well as those of relatives who have needed care there, that have made them so keen to help.

Charlotte, 38, said: “We’ve visited the hospice for a number of events over the years. We’ve also had family members who’ve needed hospice care and have been happy to know they are in safe hands.

“The hospice is a lovely, peaceful place and we want to help ensure that it remains successful for many years to come.”

It promises to be an action-packed weekend for Charlotte and Andrew, 41, who following their marathon exploits will head to Staffordshire for a night at the Alton Towers Hotel and a day in the theme park as a celebratory treat. Anyone running the marathon for WLH has to pledge to raise at least £1,000.

A WLH spokesperson said: “Well done to all of them and thank you on behalf of the hospice and everyone in who needs our care.”

The 2019 London Marathon is this Sunday.