Warwick mum to take on London Marathon for two causes close to her heart

One of the charities is based in Warwick and the other is based in Hatton

A Warwick mum is hoping to run up big totals for two local causes close to her heart in a marathon fundraising effort this weekend.

Claire Hammond is gearing up for her first London Marathon on Sunday (October 3) – in aid of charities Molly Olly’s Wishes and Northleigh House School.

It marks the culmination of five months of training for the 43-year-old who admits to having modest ambitions for the race.

Left to right: Claire Hammond, Rachel Ollerenshaw and Viv Morgan. Photo supplied

“I just want to finish it safely and injury free. I don’t have a finishing time in mind – it would be good to finish before they re-open the roads.” she quipped.

“It is as much a mental challenge as it is physical one, so I want to be strong mentally and to not panic on the day and fear that I can’t do it.

"When you run, especially long distances, you have to learn to silence the voices in your head telling you that you can’t do it. I don’t listen to music or anything when I run, so I have been practising this as much as clocking up the miles on my training runs.”

She added: “I have built up gradually over the last five months, from running 5k, to 10k, then taking part in the Leamington and Solihull Half Marathons, to running 16 miles and finally 20 miles.

Claire Hammond trains with some of the Northleigh House School students. Photo supplied

"I have tried to run three times a week, a lot of it running up steep hills where I live.”

Molly Olly’s Wishes was established in 2011 following the death of Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw’s eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer.

The Warwick-based charity works to support children with terminal or life-limiting illnesses and their families and help with their emotional well-being as well as grant wishes and donate therapeutic toys and books to both children directly and to hospitals throughout the UK.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the charity which, last October, moved into its first dedicated town centre premises, in Warwick – the month in which Molly would have turned 18.

Claire Hammond with some of the Northleigh House School students. Photo supplied

Founder Rachel Ollerenshaw said: “We are so grateful to Claire for deciding to run the London Marathon for Molly Olly’s Wishes.

"Every penny raised allows us to emotionally support those children and their families. To date, we have helped more than 15,000 young people and we have granted more than 2,100

wishes.

"Huge thanks again to Claire.”

Northleigh House School was established in Hatton in 2012 by Viv and late husband Fred Morgan who were moved by stories of bullying in secondary schools.

After discovering a lack of facilities to support these young people, they decided to address the growing need for a safe and nurturing environment for students to continue their education whilst receiving any counselling and support they need to rebuild their shattered self-confidence and self-belief.

More than 120 students have passed through its doors, and there is an ever-growing waiting list.

Viv said: “Our students have experienced traumas of some kind that have left them emotionally vulnerable within mainstream schools so they are often ‘switched off’ from learning.

“We are always incredibly grateful to friends and supporters like Claire, who literally go the extra mile to support us. We have been so impressed by her hard work and will be cheering her all the way.”

Claire Hammond added: “Both charities bring light to children and families facing darkness.

"I know Molly’s family well, and I wanted to play a small part in helping them grant wishes to children and their families who are facing such difficult circumstances.

“I asked Rachel to share with me some of the wishes they have granted, to remind me of the joy they bring amongst the pain and suffering, and this has spurred me on in my training when things have felt tough.

“My child attends Northleigh House School, and we are truly thankful for this place. Northleigh has offered my family a lifeline and hope for the future.

“My child was unable to attend secondary school due to severe anxiety, spending two years at home but Northleigh has been central to rebuilding their mental health, enabling our child to live a full life which has, in turn, benefited us all as a family. Without it, our lives would be unthinkable.

"We are so grateful. It is thanks to Northleigh House that our family can breathe, smile and enjoy our lives."