One thing our family and friends got involved in was fund raising for the Muscular Dystrophy Charity. This took many forms.
As I have told you in previous blogs, the OSO took up marathon running, (remember embarrassing moments with Sally Gunnel and Roger Black?) for a number of reasons I think; one being that it gave her a bit of time on her own, another being that she was, and still is an activeoholic (if there is such a thing, I’m not sure if there is ‘cause the computer has just underlined it in red!) and thirdly she did not have to arrange to go and meet anyone to play a game such as tennis at a certain time which was difficult for her as time was always such a premium, she could just go. Finally it was a good way of raising money through sponsorship.
She had run a couple of marathons before she had us boys so she decided to run the Sheffield marathon and then from that she ran three London marathons and ended up running the New York marathon, in all I guess she ran about seven or eight. Despite what a lot of people seem to think, a marathon is always the same distance wherever it is run, what the OSO learnt was what made the difference was the route it took, not where it was. Obviously a hilly route was always far more difficult than a flat route and some marathons were two circuits of a half marathon which she found psychologically was a killer!
The OSO was, and still is not, a natural build for marathon running. As you probably know the tall lean runners with the long lever legs find it easier to run for long distances, Mum is more of an 8oo metre runner build being really too short and stocky for good marathon running. However, not to be deterred she started training, and as ever, once the OSO had decided to do something, she put in loads and loads of work. She trained very hard for all of her marathons whatever the weather, and she always put in a pretty good time of around four hours, which was not bad going. We always tried to go and watch and support her, particularly for the London marathons, though we didn’t make it to New York.
Obviously she always ran for Muscular Dystrophy as a ‘Rupert’s Runner’ (Rupert Bear being the M.D. mascot) she wore a red t. shirt with Rupert on it. Alistair, my youngest brother has recently taken up doing triathlons and he now wears the very same t. shirt in his races (ahh)
Dad never took part in any runs, he did support Mum in his own way. He would stand in a pub car park, beer in hand, cheering her on as she went past on training runs. He also claimed to have got repetitive strain injury in his thumb clicking the stop watch when she was trying to increase her speed!
Over the years Mum raised thousands and thousands of pounds for M.D. doing her marathons, though she always said doing the marathons was easy in comparison to trying to collect all the sponsorship money in afterwards!
Mum and Dad also raised money every year by running a Muscular Dystrophy Ball every October at Baldwin’s Omega in Sheffield.
This became something of an institution. David Baldwin said it was the best function he hosted all year and he made more over the bar on the M.D. ball night than he did on any other night. It was sold out every year, Mum and Dad did, and I suppose still do, make a great partnership when they are working together. They make a great team, the OSO, as you might imagine, thinks very fast and has loads of good ideas and is great at getting people and organisations to donate prizes and money, whereas Dad is much steadier and has amazing attention to detail and demands everything to be exactly right, bit different to the OSO’s
But whatever, it worked, and the balls were always great very successful, both in terms of raising money and raising people’s awareness of Muscular Dystrophy. Over the years they did raise an awful lot of Money for Muscular Dystrophy. Even today, they are both still working for M.D. granted in a much quieter way, but they are still doing it!