If you’re in London this weekend you’re in for a treat. The Virgin Money London Marathon takes place on Sunday, and it’s the biggest and greatest sporting spectacle of the year.
It’s a day when London comes out in force to celebrate achievement and raise an incredible amount of money for charity. Yes, there are plenty of celebs chasing glory, but it’s the ordinary folk who make the event what it is. Some are running to make a difference in the world. Others run to remember friends and relatives, or just to challenge themselves. It’s also a fantastic day out for the supporters, who line the streets in their hundreds of thousands and soak up the street party atmosphere.
Running slots in the London Marathon are hard to come by, with over 200,000 people applying for the 38,000 places. Every year our friends at Virgin Money give eight lucky Virgin Atlantic people entry to the event. In return we ask all our runners to raise money for charity with at least 50% going to our long term partnership with WE.
Through the Virgin Atlantic Foundation, our registered charity, we’re supporting projects designed to benefit the welfare of children in the UK and our destinations around the world. So without further ado, let’s meet our 2017 Marathon Heroes and learn about the causes inspiring them do this extraordinary thing:
Our US regional Clubhouse manager Clementina Cracroft finished the Paris Marathon a couple of weeks ago with an impressive personal best of 3:32, followed by the Boston Marathon in 3:46.
“I ran Paris and Boston last year, so why not tag London onto the end and set myself the challenge of three marathons in two weeks?” explains Clem. “I also want to do it for a reason other than just completing marathons – hence deciding to run for two charities close to my heart.”
“I will be raising money for Virgin Atlantic’s charity, The Virgin Atlantic Foundation which is supporting WE. Their mission is to create a world where all young people are free to achieve their fullest potential as agents of change. They’re helping us to deliver sustainable change in overseas communities, as well as inspiring young people in the UK to ‘be the change’ they want to see in the world, through an empowering schools’ programme.
“I’m also running for Worldwide Cancer Research who believe in funding the most innovative and challenging research. I wanted to help Worldwide Cancer research because my mother had breast cancer, and without the research that led to the discovery of the drugs she was on, she would not have survived as long as she did. I therefore hope to make a cure a bit closer through the money I raise, and make steps towards a cancer-free future for everyone around the world.”
A certifying engineer (Avionics) at our Heathrow hangar, Mike’s training has taken him from the villages near his Bedfordshire home to the roads around Heathrow when on shift. He also trained in Manila when he was supervising heavy maintenance on our Airbus aircraft and Charleston, South Carolina during acceptance and delivery of our newest 787.
Mike is running the London Marathon this year in memory of his triplet sons, David, Josh & Leo, born prematurely in 2005. This year the marathon falls in the week following the anniversary of the boys’ birthday and passing, and Mike will be raising money for The Baby Snow Fairy Fund. This charity was set up by two of his colleagues at the Heathrow hangar, Ross and Elisa, who experienced a similar situation in 2010. Their aim is to raise funds to help local intensive care units purchase vital equipment that can save babies’ lives. Find out more on Mike’s fundraising page.
This is the second marathon for Paul McCarthy, one of our technology contracts managers. Having previously run in 2011 Paul is supporting the Slinfold Scout Group where he’s a leader. This vibrant scouting group in the Horsham district offers 6 to 25-year-olds fun and challenging activities, everyday adventures and the chance to help others and make a positive impact in their community.
Cabin Crew member Hayley Baird is raising money for the Pituitary Foundation, and for her, running has been a revelation. “I watched the London marathon on TV, telling myself I WILL do it one year,” she says. “I only had one problem, and that was that I hated running! That was until June last year when I signed up to a beginner running course. I went with determination to enjoy it, but wasn’t expecting to in the slightest, and thought I’d probably give up after the first week. But something strange happened. I LOVED it!”
Our other runners include Kim Trenter, who has been applying for a marathon place for over ten years. Her cabin crew role has seen her train all over the world and she’ll be raising money for the Alzheimers Society. Explaining that he has “never run for anything other than to be first at the buffet,” James Heimers who manages our CRM Planning & Insight is supporting Ronald McDonald House Charities and the British Heart Foundation.
Christian Scaccianoce’s chosen charity is Bloodwise (formerly known as Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research). “My inspiration comes from some special friends whose loved ones have been struck by this terrible illness, as well as my beautiful cousin Cettina who lost her battle against leukaemia at just 40 years old.”
As well as our eight ‘official’ places we also have runners who applied on their own and are running for a number of inspirational reasons:
Laura Watts, one of our flight service managers, is a serious runner. Having run the Brighton Marathon just over a week ago, this will be her ninth London Marathon. What’s more, only six days after London she’ll be running in a 100-mile Ultra Marathon called the Thames Path 100 which starts in Richmond-upon-Thames and follows the Thames Path until Oxford!
Laura is running for the Stroke Association in memory of her grandad, with more information on her fundraising page.
Aimee Pugh flies as cabin crew and London will be her first marathon. She is running for the brain tumour charity in support of her brother’s best friend James, who at the age of 26 sadly developed an incurable tumour. “James has been a part of my family’s life for over 20 years and we are devastated,” says Aimee. “I want to do all I can to raise awareness of this dreadful cancer.”
Our manager of galley development and planning, Graham Hush, is running the London Marathon this year, raising money for the MS Society. This will be his third marathon, after running London previously in 2009 and Edinburgh in 2010. As to why he’s runing again in 2017, he says “it took me seven years to forget how bad they are!”
Our digital acquisition manager James Campbell has finally been given his chance. “Having applied a number of times, I’ve finally got a place on the London Marathon,” he says. “Fittingly, having ‘officially’ given up rugby this year due to injury, I’ll be running for the RFU Injured Players Foundation.”
And finally, it’s not the London Marathon, but we’d like to make a special mention of our Manchester-based cabin crew member Kerry Jenkins who is running her own monster challenge at the end of this month. Kerry plans to run solo from St Georges Hall, Liverpool to Trafalgar Square, London over seven days – that’s approximately 30 miles per day and 200 miles in total, sleeping in a van driven by her ever-so patient husband by night. Raising money for Claire House Children’s Hospice, Kerry’s epic challenge begins on 29th April and finishes on 6th May.
So far Team Virgin Atlantic have raised over £11,500 for WE.org and their chosen charities. Visit their links to read more about their stories, or find out more about our community investment programme and the Virgin Atlantic Foundation.