Duo conquer wall challenge

Paul Haddon, Liam Kelly and Jim McColgan
Paul Haddon, Liam Kelly and Jim McColgan
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A LITERAL cross country run has raised a big total for a regional charity.

Paul Haddon, who grew up in Pegswood, decided to run the 84-mile length (135km) of Hadrian’s Wall from Bowness-on-Solway on the west coast of England to Wallsend on the east in memory of his mother, Valerie.

She passed away at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle in January, one week short of her 66th birthday, following a brave and dignified 16-month battle with a rare and aggressive form of lymphoma (a type of blood cancer).

After seeing the high quality of care that she received, Mr Haddon wanted to do an activity to support Bright Red – a charity based at the hospital. It aims to improve the lives and treatment of people with blood cancer across the north of England through care, education and research programmes.

Once the run and route was organised, a couple of friends decided to help him. Liam Kelly joined him in the run and Jim McColgan became a support driver.

Despite some tough moments, they managed to complete the seven-day challenge and they have been overwhelmed with donations from friends, family and work colleagues. The total is now more than £5,000.

Mr Haddon said: “I took up running as it helped me when mam was fighting the cancer and during visits to my parents’ house, I often ran in the Whorral Bank area along the viaduct.

“I chose the Hadrian’s Wall distance because I felt it would be tough but achievable. I did seven months of training, however I soon realised that it was going to be painful.

“It is an iconic structure and it was an amazing experience to run along the route of the wall. We enjoyed some fantastic scenery and there are plenty of wonderful memories that we can look back on in years to come.

“My mam’s care at the Freeman Hospital’s Northern Centre for Cancer Care was outstanding. The staff were always treating her with kindness, care, respect and dignity and they were always approachable, helpful, caring and sensitive to the family.

“Bright Red is an excellent charity and we’re thrilled that so many people have given us a donation – I’m staggered by the total so far. It’s great that we can give more than £5,000 to help its vital work.”

The 46-year-old, who works for the Scottish Government in Edinburgh, was boosted during the run by visits from family members, including his father, Paul Snr, and two brothers, Mark and Keith.

“The average distance to cover each day was about 20km and on day one, we decided to run three-and-a-half kilometres more than we had planned, even though it was a hot day,” he added.

“It backfired a bit as we were aching and feeling sick on the morning of the second day, but once we became used to the conditions we got into a rhythm and were able to make good progress.

“We usually did two runs a day, but we did three on the Tuesday to free up a slot on the morning of the final day (a Friday) to go along to the hospital and see some of the great work that Bright Red does to support people with blood cancer.

“Even though the last leg was eight kilometres, we got a bit lost on the way, so we felt a mix of relief and satisfaction at the finish. Thankfully, we just missed a torrential downpour that hit the Wallsend area.

“We calculated that we burned about 11,000 calories during the run and I lost a stone in weight.

“Jim provided us with invaluable support throughout the week and I’m extremely grateful to Liam for agreeing to do the challenge as well. I couldn’t have done it without them.

“We were hoping that Liam’s gall bladder didn’t get worse as he was due to have it taken out, but thankfully it held up ok and the procedure took place the following week.

“This has definitely given me the bug for long distance running and I’m planning to do a coastal run, which starts at Cresswell, next year.”

People can still make a donation to Bright Red via Mr Haddon’s online fund-raising page – www.justgiving.com/paul-haddon