A primary school teacher who won a Golden Bond Place for the London Marathon with St Catherine’s Hospice is taking the opportunity to raise awareness as well as vital funds for the charity.
Elliot Costas-Walker, a Year 4 teacher at Cop Lane CofE Primary School in Penwortham, has helped drive support for St Catherine’s following his own personal experience, and after working with parents and children who have also witnessed the specialised care of the hospice.
“I think people can sometimes underestimate how much the hospice does aside from cancer and end-of-life care,” he explained. “It’s also about pain management and making people as comfortable as possible, respecting their individual wishes, and offering emotional support to patients and their families.
“People are also shocked when they learn that just £1.7m of the charity’s £5.2m annual running costs comes from the NHS, and the rest has to be generated through fundraising.
“Everyone knows what a fantastic charity it is, and for St Catherine’s to be sustainable and continue to provide its fantastic care and support in the future, people need to keep getting behind the cause and do their bit.”
Elliot was just five when he first visited the Lostock Hall hospice, where his godfather Russ Fielding was being cared for. He died on his 40th birthday and Elliot is running in honour of him.
He has also since come into contact with a number of families through his school who have benefited from the help of the charity’s dedicated doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers and volunteers.
Elliot put himself forward for the marathon last year in an effort to raise more awareness and much-needed funds, and urge members of the school community to continue showing their support for St Catherine’s.
He said: “I’ve liked running since I was at school and I’ve done a lot of 10k runs and two half marathons. I’ve always said I’d like to take on a marathon one day; it’s been on my bucket list but I hadn’t nailed down a date.
“So I when I saw that St Catherine’s was offering supporters a chance to win a Golden Bond Place, I just thought ‘why not go for it?’
“It’s good for the children to be aware of the hospice and the importance of supporting a local, worthy cause, and I know how much the funds raised will benefit local people, so that’s a massive motivation for me.”
Elliot has undertaken a gruelling training programme, running four times a week and reaching nearly 20 miles during his longer Sunday runs.
“I’ve been pushing my boundaries and it’s been quite intense,” he admitted. “But I am really enjoying it, and it will all be worth it when I cross the finish line and hand over my sponsorship money to St Catherine’s.”
St Catherine’s fundraiser Emma Jacovelli said: “The whole team at Cop Lane Primary School have been huge supporters of the hospice in recent years, which means so much and really helps in our aims to help more people have quality of life to the end of life.
“I’m delighted that Elliot is taking on this very personal challenge, and we wish him lots of luck for the big day on Sunday, 23rd April! He’s raised an incredible £1,195 so far, and we’re very grateful for his determination and hard work.”