Anne Amlot is taking on the London Marathon 2018 in memory of her Dad, who was cared for at Duchess of Kent Hospice. Here, she shares her memories, shock at successfully applying and her fundraising journey.
"On 27th December 2016 I had a call from my brother. “Dad’s gone into Duchess of Kent Hospice,” he said. It was a defining moment for our entire family: a moment of fear for us, with the realisation that Dad’s cancer really had taken hold.
"I imagined the hospice to be a kind of old-fashioned old folks’ home, smelling of last night’s dinner and filled with sadness. In reality, I couldn’t be more wrong.
"Greeted by warm, friendly staff and helped into his cheerful room with the sun streaming in and a view of the beautifully-tended garden view, it was clear Dad felt safe and comfortable at Duchess of Kent Hospice."
"The hospice became a sanctuary to us"
"For the next few weeks, our family spent a lot of time at the hospice. We’d come in and Doctor Helen would be holding his hand, listening to him and softly explaining what was happening to him as his once-sporty, now-frail self began fading away.
"Dad charmed the nurses and volunteers, asking them about themselves and filling us in on their lives as they gently bustled around us, always smiling, always calm – these kind, compassionate people who must grow so fond of so many patients but are faced with goodbyes every day.
"The hospice became a sanctuary to us during the last few weeks of Dad’s life. They removed fear and made us all feel safe.
"Slowly deteriorating, Dad took his last breath in the hospice in January 2017, with us having spent the day by his side chatting, laughing and sharing our memories. If you could choose a way to go, that would be pretty much it.
Fittingly, the hospice had been an antenatal hospital many years ago, and Dad had been born there – a real circle of life."
Pounding the streets: giving something back
"During those few weeks, I vowed to give something back – as clichéd as it sounds. The London Marathon seemed fitting, but never in a million years did I dream my application would be successful.
"Henry from the lovely events team phoned me in August to tell me I had a place, and I was instantly, insanely, totally and utterly terrified.
"I signed up to a few half marathons, slowly taking my runs from five miles upwards, and heading out at lunchtime at work when I had a spare 40 minutes. I kept the longer runs for weekends, and come rain, shine, snow or slush, I’ve been out there pounding the streets.
"A local running club organises marathon training runs, which have been amazing – firstly a 12-miler, then a month later 17 miles, and a month later 20 miles. They’re friendly, non-competitive and there’s cake and hot chocolate at the end – what’s not to love?"
Anne's fundraising ideas
"There was also the sizeable goal of fundraising - the entire reason for this crazy running. My fundraising began in earnest in December, and the goal seemed a long way off, but people’s kindness and generosity have astounded me.
"Sue Ryder means so much to so many people, and I found that being open and sharing my story helped them understand my cause.
"I thought of loads of crazy fundraising ideas, but with two young children (both with hectic social lives) and a full-time job, time wasn’t on my side, so I decided on a fundraising raffle.
"I spent my January evenings emailing around a hundred local businesses, cinemas, restaurants and shopping centres. I invested some money in getting the tickets designed and printed professionally, and a friend at work designed posters for the ‘Grand Spring Raffle’. I enlisted some amazing colleagues to help sell tickets, and between us we raised over £400, giving my fundraising pot a huge boost. People loved the chance to donate to such a lovely charity, with the added bonus that they might win a prize too, and it created a fantastic buzz in the office."
Support Anne and Sue Ryder
"Just a few weeks to go, and I’ve smashed my fundraising target, which is a huge relief and has given me a wonderful sense of accomplishment.
"There’s just the small matter of the 26 or so miles to complete now – but I know when my legs are tired and aching, it’s a tiny price to pay to support this wonderful charity, which has such a positive impact on the lives of so many people."
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