“It's been two years since I lost my dad. Two years since I decided I would do everything I could to support Sue Ryder”

Sarah Riley has fundraised in memory of her late dad, Steve, since he died two years ago after being cared for at Sue Ryder Palliative Care Hub South Oxfordshire. Chronicling her journey on her Running Through Grief page, she talks here about training during the pandemic for the Virtual London Marathon and how this year's event provides another focus to continue on.

Sarah with her late dad, Steve

Giving back to Sue Ryder

It's been two years since I lost my dad to the big C. Two years since I decided I would do everything I could in order to support Sue Ryder as I can never fully repay them for the care, love and attention they not only gave my dad, but that they gave me, my sister and mum in the following months and now years since. 

Years, that word seems so crazy.

Setting myself a challenge

How did I say my goodbyes to dad two years ago? In the months after losing dad, I set myself a challenge. To run the London Marathon in his memory, but also to raise vital funds to keep our local hospice, Sue Ryder Palliative Care Hub South Oxfordshire, open. Well, since deciding that I was going to run the marathon, I set up Running Through Grief and have challenged my emotions and determination into training for this.

Of course, nobody quite knew what training for a marathon would look like during a pandemic, but I’m pleased to say with the main event cancelled and the virtual event launched, I still completed my task.

I ran around my local streets of Marlow, completing the 26.2 miles and raising more than my fundraising target. Although I absolutely loved this experience, it still wasn’t the experience I had planned and trained for.

Finding another focus

That’s what makes the fact that I was automatically offered a place to run this October 2021 in London (fingers crossed) even more amazing. Not only is it another chance to raise more funds, but it’s also another focus for me. Fundraising during a pandemic is tricky, however.

Having already completed a marathon distance, I feel I need to generate new ideas, a new means to fundraising. I’m hoping that with restrictions now easing, I can begin to host drinks evenings, dinner parties and possibly even a tribute night.

Since losing my dad I need focus points, I need the discipline and the challenge. In the world we live in currently with the ever changing COVID-19 regulations, I can’t say I am fully confident that I will run in London itself in October, but I will train and push myself to beat last year's time and money raised.

With five months to go it’s time to ramp up my training, begin to increase my miles week on week. I have loved easing off over the past few months, however, the focus it takes to run a marathon is what I need, so it has come at the right time.

Find out further information about Sue Ryder Palliative Care Hub South Oxfordshire, the expert palliative care they provide and ways you can help to support them.

Sue Ryder supporter Sarah Riley

Daughter of patient

Sarah Riley
Sue Ryder Palliative Care Hub South Oxfordshire

Sarah's father, Steve, died in March 2019. She ran the London Virgin Money Virtual Marathon 2020 in his memory and to fundraise for Sue Ryder South Oxfordshire Palliative Care Hub, who cared for him in his final weeks. She continues to fundraise for Sue Ryder and share her story through her Running Through Grief Facebook page.