Buckinghamshire friends David and Darren have always been keen runners, and in 2019 the two took on a phenomenal feat. They both signed up for the London 2 Brighton 100km Challenge to raise money and awareness for The Pepper Foundation – a cause incredibly close to David’s family.

David, 37, talks to the Pepper Team about why the duo took on such an inspirational event to help their local children’s Hospice at Home nursing service.

David and Darren’s story

Hello, I am David, and together with my good friend Darren, we completed the London 2 Brighton 100km Challenge for The Pepper Foundation in May 2019.

Darren had done this crazy distance before, and he has really inspired me into running further. I really wanted to do something that really challenged me and that not too many others do.

Why we chose to support the Pepper Foundation

My wife sadly lost her sister 24 years ago. Her sister and the family were provided with care and support by the nursing team The Pepper Foundation help to fund. It is all really summed up by wife’s words:

“In 1993, my big sister Rachael was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, she was just 14. After 2 years of treatment which included a bone marrow transplant we were told the devastating news that the cancer had returned and was now terminal.

“Knowing that we were going to lose her was utterly unbearable but we knew we had to make the time she had left as easy as possible on all of us. This meant her being at home where she could see her friends and live as normal a life as possible.

“Shortly after we received the news, we were introduced to a lady called Heather who was a nurse from the nursing team The Pepper Foundation help to fund. Having Heather (who was on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year) in our lives meant that all of Rachael’s palliative care needs were met at home where she was most comfortable.

“It also meant that when Rachael died, she was at home surrounded by her family. Heather was with us every step of the way offering invaluable support and care, not only to Rachael – but to us all.

After Rachael died, Heather and the team continued to provide us with support through grief counselling, which helped us all deal with the unbelievable hole that was left in our lives. I will never forget what the nursing team did for us.”

For us, it was a no-brainer to support such an important charity for my family. The care they provide over 50 families today is truly life-changing – and I knew first-hand how much of a difference this small but vital organisation makes to local life-limited children, just like Rachael.

The challenge

In May 2019, Darren and I took off from London to run the whole way to Brighton. We were feeling confident, and it was wonderful to have our families there to support us along the way.

With the challenge being so long, you go through a whole range of emotions. There were times when I felt good and really comfortable – but there were times where I just wanted to stop. Running it with a close friend in Darren was a great help as 13 hours running is tough mentally as it is physically.

I did find it hard going approaching the half way point, and I even contemplated pulling out. But the half way rest stop where our families were waiting really helped. Psychologically, counting down the remaining kilometres from the half-way mark really helped.

At times, the only thing keeping me going was stubbornness and sheer determination! I wanted to make the months of training count… but actually the thought of people having donated to such a worthy cause helped get us through.

It was such a euphoric experience going over the finish line and to be greeted by our loved ones. We completed the challenge in 13 hours and 21 minutes! It was definitely the toughest thing I have ever done, and stairs were not my friend in the following days!

Fundraising for The Pepper Foundation

Fundraising for The Pepper Foundation was pretty easy with a JustGiving page and e-mail/speaking to friends, colleagues and family. We are both lucky to know many generous people who were happy to donate.

In total, we managed to raise an amazing £2,390 for Pepper. For a charity of their size, we knew this money would make a huge impact on the work they do.

It was an absolute pleasure to fundraise for Pepper, because as a small, local charity who do amazing work, they need all the help they can get with donations. What Pepper did for my wife’s family meant the world to them, so I couldn’t think of any better cause.

I would also like to say that Pepper were fantastic in their support by keeping in regular contact leading up to the event and shortly after.

David’s advice to Future Fundraisers…

Speak to your wealthy friends/colleagues first as that really gets ball rolling!

On a serious note, I think having a powerful story or message really helps. Posting and re-posting regularly on social media also seemed to work well.

I would definitely recommend anyone to fundraise for Pepper. It is such a worthy cause because of the kind and important work they do for local families in Bucks and Herts. The Pepper Team are also friendly and supportive showing how much they appreciate any fundraising. So do it! You won’t regret it.

Will you join Team Pepper in 2020?

You can join David and Darren on Team Pepper today by signing up for a challenge to raise funds and awareness for the Pepper Foundation. As a small charity, every penny you raise is so important to our team, and to the families of children receiving Hospice at Home care.

What are you waiting for? Get in touch on 01442 507324 or email sobrien@pepper.org.uk today!