In just two days time Caroline Searle, a dedicated supporter of The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation, will undertake one of the biggest fundraising challenge of her life to date; on Sunday 24th April Caroline will be running The Official Virgin Money London Marathon in aid of the dozens of couples affected by terminal and life-limiting illnesses for whom marriage is a distant dream. The charity is of the firm belief that everybody has the right to marry their soul mate, and why not? At a time when there is often very little cheer, a wedding day can provide happy memories for a couple’s family and friends, as well as the knowledge that they have been legally bound in a ceremony that no illness can ever take from them; joined by a love that can’t be denied.
We shall let Caroline tell her story…
“I found out about The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation approximately eighteen months ago, from my friends who run PMN Wedding Fayres. It was the year I turned 40, and coincided with me finding my 40th birthday challenge – The Great South Run in my hometown of Portsmouth. A couple of weeks before the run my friend had invited me to attend her running club, Haslemere Border AC, and it’s one of the best things I ever did! They gave me so much confidence with my running, although, for me, it’s all about the taking part and the club team spirit, rather than the pace. In the meantime I’d sorted myself a training plan that I’d been sticking to, and then, in October 2014, ran the furthest I had ever run; the 10 miles of The Great South Run. It was a fantastic experience, especially as I got to run passed my childhood home where my mum still lives, with my husband and mum cheering me on. My fundraising that year concentrated on asking for donations of wedding dresses, bridesmaids’ dresses, and accessories, and I was delighted to be able to deliver a car-load to Johnsons Dry Cleaners in Farnham.
So, now what? In 2015 I booked my entry for The Great South Run, and set myself a goal to complete the course in less than an hour and a half. As if that wasn’t a challenge enough, I also booked myself into the Reigate Half Marathon, since a friend of mine was helping to organise it, and the Elstead Marathon, The Gibbet Hill 10K, and the Harting Trail Race, all of which were team events as part of my new running club. This time it was all about the sponsorship and raising money for The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation, and I found my friends, colleagues and family were so incredibly supportive; we also did a Great British Bake Off competition at work and raised £150 by baking and eating cake – it was a tough job, but unsurprisingly people were more than happy to take part!
The Reigate Half Marathon was a fantastic experience, and the longest I had run before; I felt amazing while doing it, and shocked myself by completing it in less than two hours. However, my eye was still on the main prize of The Great South Run; on the day the race started with other friends from the running club there too. It was perfect conditions for running, but was hard work! Once again I ran passed my mum and husband, but this time my brother was there too, and they were all so focused on getting that photo of me that they all completely forgot to cheer! However, as I got another mile down the road I heard an almighty scream of my name as my friend frantically waved and jumped up and down; brilliant! As I reached 8-miles I looked at my Garmin watch (great bit of kit, by the way!) and realised that, unless I suddenly stopped, twisted my ankle or got run down by the man in the mankini I had seen a while before (the chafing must have been dreadful!), I was going to run the race in less than that magic hour and a half. Rather than coasting, though, I got my head up and shoulders down and headed for home. I burst into tears when I crossed the line and saw my mum and husband, Dave, and I remember saying, “That was so hard.” However, when I looked at my watch and got the official time of 1:24:34 pinged through I knew that I had smashed it; all of that hard work had paid off. I then saw one of the coaches from the club who had been so incredibly supportive, and to be able to tell them I had beaten my target time was just fantastic.
So, with all my races done for the year (although I did sneak in the Gosport Half Marathon in November, which was a nightmare because of the wind) I totted up the figures and was thrilled to be able to tell everyone that we had raised over £1000 for The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation; wow!
In April 2015, having sat and watched the London Marathon and sworn to my husband that there was no chance I would ever run it, I went and entered the ballot; sheer madness, right? In October 2015 I found out I had been unsuccessful, with the option given to apply via one of the race’s charity spots. No way – there is only one charity for me! There was just one other chance for a place; to apply via my running club, as they had been allocated two spaces. I duly did but, in the meantime, turned my attention to several back up plans. At first I looked into running in Paris, and this was definitely a consideration until the day I chose to flick through one of my running magazines – I know, I am such a square! It was there and then that I saw the Yorkshire Marathon, which is raced in York itself. It seemed like fate. You see, five years ago this year a very dear friend of mine died. Her other friends and I have always chosen to celebrate Heather’s life by meeting on her birthday in July, at a bench laid on the beautiful spot where she used to take her children. In October last year we laid a bench at her graveside in York; a very special moment for those who went. The decision was made, and with the consent of Heather’s parents, the plan was to enter the Yorkshire Marathon when the entries opened in January 2016.; well, let’s face it, I didn’t have a hope of getting the club place, did I?!
I couldn’t go to the Running Club Christmas ‘Do, when the club places would be announced, but I did pop in for drinks to say hello and wish everyone a Happy Christmas. A little later on that night I started getting messages. I read the messages, then re read them, then looked blankly at Dave, who by this point was desperate to know what they said. I read them again. The running club had given me a club place, and I was going to run the London Marathon! It’s not often I’m speechless, but that moment is definitely one of those occasions.
After the shock had died down I promptly came down with a cold – as you do. Then January 4th came, and, with it, the opportunity to enter the Yorkshire Marathon. I might have had my place in London, but I had made a promise to myself to run for Heather. So, there I was; poised at 9am to enter the Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon. The site promptly crashed and it took my friend and I, on both of our computers with a lot of swearing, an hour and forty minutes before I was finally successful; more stressful than trying to get Adele tickets!!!!
And so to today; my double marathon challenge is set, and with it a whole new year of fundraising. To date I have attended a number of wedding fayres in an effort to drum up support, and relied upon the generous donations of friends, family members, and amazing strangers I’ve never met. The total currently stands at over £1,000, but I know I can do more – that we can raise more money together. I’m continuing to follow my training schedule, and have just had my nails done for the occasion. The London Marathon is in two days, and I’m ready!”
Naomi and the team at The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation couldn’t be prouder of Caroline if they tried; run, Snapey, run! You can donate to Caroline’s fundraising efforts here, and discover more about the charity for which she is running here. Good luck to anyone who will be running this weekend, but especially to Caroline – you can do this!