Runners’ delight as dozens cross Great North Run finishing line for charity causes

Members of the Families First North East team, who completed the Great North Run in aid of the Hartlepool charity.
Members of the Families First North East team, who completed the Great North Run in aid of the Hartlepool charity.

A Great North Run team effort will help a charity top up its funds with around £15,000 to further its work with families most in need.

Hartlepool-based Families First North East saw 28 of its supporters take on the half marathon course to raise cash.

Steve Bell, left, Phil Holbrook, centre, and Vicky Bell, right, on the starting line of the Great North Run, which they completed in aid of Team Sally Holbrook.

Steve Bell, left, Phil Holbrook, centre, and Vicky Bell, right, on the starting line of the Great North Run, which they completed in aid of Team Sally Holbrook.

In addition to helping it cover the ongoing costs of running its services, the money will also support its dream of setting up a supported holiday home for those with disabled children, giving carers some much-needed time off and their children happy memories and new experiences.

Paul Thompson, chief executive of the York Road charity, had been due to join in as a competitor himself, but had to pull out with just days to go after injuring his knee following a dragon boat race fundraiser.

Instead, he formed part of the support crew, cheering on the team and other runners on the final stretch of the race at its finish in South Shields and ensuring the tired runners got home after completing the course.

Paul, who has already done the run three times previously, said: “I’m not a fast runner by any standards, but I have run it and it’s a great achievement.

Sally Holbrook.

Sally Holbrook.

“We had 28 runners and some had fast times, from one hour 23 minutes, to somebody who did it in three hours 15 minutes and everything in between, and it was fantastic experience.

“We were there at the last 400 metre mark, screaming and cheering people on as they approached that final hurdle.

“We had people getting in contact with us after they had done it last year, saying can we do it for you again, and others asking from about Christmas time, saying if you have places, can we do it for Families First, and we’re absolutely delighted they did.

“I felt really blue when I got up and thought about how I wasn’t going to be able to do it, I was gutted, but it was great to cheer them on over the finishing line.

“We were there to make sure they had something to eat and drink and their warm clothes to get into afterwards.

“The money raised will help us ensure we can continue our existing services, but we are still fundraising this idea we have around a holiday let for disabled children and their families, and this will help us turn that into a reality.”

Among other Hartlepool runners was Phil Holbrook, 57, who completed his 27th run.

He led Team Sally Holbrook, which brought together 24 runners who set out to raise funds for Alice House Hospice in memory of his wife Sally, who died in 2012 following a crash in Greatham.

Phil, who was left with life threatening injuries in the collision, and his fellow runners aim to raise £5,000 for the charity in her name, adding to the £15,000 already collected for the hospice during the last four years.

Phil, who counted his niece Emma Holbrook and his wife Gillian’s daughter Sarah Hamilton among his teammates, ran over the finishing line hand in hand with H’Angus the Monkey, Hartlepool United’s mascot, aka Michael Evans.

“It was a really good day,” said Phil.

“I finished it in three hours 5 minutes, which is a bit slower than I’ve done the course before, but the consolation was getting to finish with H’Angus.

“It was great to do that last bit together.”

Several members of the team run as the Parkrun Tarts, who join in the regular Saturday morning runs wherever they are at the weekend.

Anyone who would like to boost the charities’ totals further can donate via https://www.justgiving.com/hartlepoolfamiliesfirst and https://gnr17ahh.everydayhero.com/uk/phil-holbrook-s-great-north-run-2017.