Somerset man signs up for London Marathon
A 48-year-old man from Frome, in Somerset, is putting his mind and body on the line in an attempt to raise much needed funds for a national disabled children’s charity.
Neil Spanswick, aims to complete the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon, in aid of Caudwell Children, the Staffordshire based charity that provides practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families.
Neil’s run will be part of Caudwell Children’s #Team20 celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of the charity’s foundation.
Throughout 2020 Caudwell Children is encouraging people to engage with the charity in a number of ways, like taking part in a fundraising event, volunteering for the charity, or raising awareness of the charity’s services, in order to join their #Team20.
Neil decided to run for Caudwell Children after two work colleagues recommended that he register for one of its charity places. As he explained: “I didn’t apply through the official ballot to run in this year’s London Marathon but since taking up running, in 2013, it’s always been my ambition to complete the event.
“So when my colleagues told me about Caudwell Children’s charity places and said they were a good cause to run for I was intrigued.
“I took the time to visit their website and I was amazed by the support they give to disabled children and young people.
“They help them to reach their full potential by providing them with specialist equipment, like powered wheelchairs, car seats, buggies and sports equipment, and this inspired me to take one of their places.”
Neil, a former pupil at Market Lavington School, in Wiltshire, says that he was never particularly sporty at school. As he explained: “I just wasn’t really interested in sport and I didn’t look forward to PE lessons. It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I took up running.
“Like a lot of people I ate and drank too much and I put on a lot of weight and then a mate challenged me to run the Bath Half Marathon.
“So I signed up and started training and before I knew it I’d become addicted to the sport. Incredibly, I lost three stone in just six months, which was life changing for me.”
Neil says that running has become important for his mental and physical health. As he exclaimed: “I love being physically fitter but I think running is more beneficial to my state of mind and mental health.
“For this reason alone I’ve persevered and I’ve completed five half marathons to date.”
Neil is currently running 20-25 miles a week but says he will gradually increase his mileage in preparation for the London Marathon.
“I aim to be doing 20 miles per run in the build up to the event,” he explained. “I run in the mornings and I’m extremely lucky as there is a disused railway line close to my home that’s been converted to a cycle track.
“It runs from Frome, through to Bath, and then Bristol, without touching a main road so it’s extremely safe.
“Because it’s an old railway line it’s pretty flat and it cuts through wooded land and fields and it’s ideal running territory.
“But two weeks before the marathon, which takes place on Sunday 26th April, I’ll taper my runs, cutting down the mileage to ensure my muscles are at peak strength.”
Neil, who ran 100 miles a month last year, says that whilst he’s quietly confident that he will complete the marathon he’s not taking anything for granted. He said: “I do have some anxieties as the thought of doing a half marathon and then turning around and doing it again is quite scary.
“But I’ve remained injury free over the las few years so I’m hoping that I can pull it off!”
Neil, who has a 19-year-old daughter and a 17-year-old son, says his family are fully behind his fundraising efforts. “They are very proud and they know that it’s a fantastic cause,” he said. “The children will be staying at home but me and my wife will be going to London the day before the marathon as that’s my birthday.
“We’ll celebrate it in the hotel before getting an early night in preparation for the following day, but we’re also staying on the Sunday night so hopefully I’ll be able to celebrate fully then.”
Kate McMahon, from Caudwell Children is urging the public to support Neil’s lung busting efforts. She said: “The money that Neil raises will also help Caudwell Children to provide funding for a number of therapies and treatments, together with short break activity days and in-hospital and in-home support.
“Our services are not available through statutory measures so it’s vital that the public support our fundraising efforts in order that we continue to fill the gap in provision for disabled children.”
You can support Neil by donating on his Virgin Money Giving page here.
You can find out about other Caudwell Children Challenges here.