No challenge is too tough for two intrepid sisters and their mum

The 15 in 15 Northumberland Half Marathon team: Pam Woodcock, Jane Dungait, Charlotte Woodcock, Rachel McBryde, Olivia Clerey and Andrew Lees.
The 15 in 15 Northumberland Half Marathon team: Pam Woodcock, Jane Dungait, Charlotte Woodcock, Rachel McBryde, Olivia Clerey and Andrew Lees.

The Herald has been following sisters Charlotte Woodcock and Rachel McBryde, and their mum Pam, in their efforts to complete 15 gruelling events in 2015 to raise £15,000 for Pancreatic Cancer UK. The 15in15 challenge is in memory of the sisters’ father Tony Woodcock, former Castle Morpeth Council Chief Planning Officer.

Here, RACHEL MCBRYDE describes their progress so far.

As I write this, my amazing sister has just completed Ironman Mallorca. Completing the gruelling, mountainous 70.3-mile course is only a tiny part of the journey. Anyone who has achieved Ironman, or knows someone who has, will be aware of the huge amount of dedication and effort it takes to train for the feat.

The smiling, sun soaked pictures at the finish line tell only a tiny part of the story. The rest is borne out, especially if you live in Northumberland, with cold, wet, often windy days of winter training, grinding out mile after mile of running and cycling, usually by yourself in freezing conditions.

The celebration at completion is far from solitary, but the time it takes to get there often is.

Mallorca has been the culmination of four challenges in six weeks for Team 15in15. It’s been a manic few months, but we have achieved so much collectively in such a short space of time, its impossible not to beam.

Following the Woodcock Wander in late February came the Run Northumberland half-marathon at Kirkley Hall. It was a cold and windy, but we got through it with gutsy runs from the whole team.

Two weeks later came #challenge4, the hardest yet, The Allendale Challenge. I think it’s fair to say we all underestimated this one; after all it was ‘only’ a 26-mile walk.

How naive we were – 26 miles was generous, it was nearly 30 miles of bog after energy-sapping bog, which Charlotte found to her peril were as lethal as quick sand when she sunk up to her waist and had to be hauled out by a three-man chain gang.

We set out at daybreak and finished near sunset, and at times it felt like it would never end. It wasn’t the muscles that struggled this time, but the joints, as step after step on unforgiving terrain took their toll on aching knees and hips.

We passed walkers weeping at the side of the road, tired and broken, but we kept going.

This time we had with us new team members Steven Dick, Victoria Gordon and Louise Redpath, and their positivity and energy lifted our spirits until what can only be described as the bitter end.

The fact that Steven could not even face the pint he’d been dreaming of all day told the story of Allendale.

The May Bank Holiday brought a frenzy of activity for us.

Back in March we were approached by Morpeth RFC after a generous donor offered to sponsor the Morpeth 7s rugby tournament on our behalf. As a result, we set about selling 2,000 raffle tickets to be drawn at the competition. We had some amazing support from Sodexo, Durham Cricket Club, Newcastle Falcons and Nicky Dalkin of Jennings Gateshead, and many others who provided abundant prizes. My husband Angus, who has been a member of the club for over 30 years, took the lead and before long, with the generosity of the hundreds of people who bought tickets, he’d made £2,000.

This added to another £2,000 raised the previous month by Richard Fail, a family friend who organised a hugely successful golf day at Longhirst Golf Club on our behalf. He’d known dad for many years and came up with the idea after chatting to mum, and galvanized the troops.

The majority of the funds were raised through an auction held at Morpeth RFU at the end of the day, with generously-donated lots expertly sold by local auctioneer Adam Grieve, plus the plentiful contributions of golfers on the day.

We are hugely grateful to Richard and the generosity of all involved in the day.

Our thanks too, to mum’s friend, a local Barclays manager Lynn-Marie Fital, who also organised a family fun day in March at Belford Golf Club, with the funds she raised matched by Barclays to contribute nearly £700 more to 15in15.

Lynn-Marie put an enormous amount of effort into making the event a huge success and showed no signs of flagging, despite the imminent arrival of her baby.

Rounding off the Bank Holiday came #challenge5, Ashington Triathlon. Huge respect went to Jane Dungait for this one. Although I was set to take part solo, Jane landed a last minute place and proceeded, with absolutely no training, to complete her first ever triathlon. She did an amazing job and was beaming from ear to ear at the end. We have a budding triathlete on our hands; next year, Ironman?

And so that brings us full circle and highlights exactly what we were wanted to achieve when we envisaged 15in15. Raising £15,000 for research into one of the UK’s biggest killers was always at the heart of our cause, with the hope that in the future other families would not have to go through the same anguish as ours.

Our fund-raising total now stands at approximately £11,500 with gift aid, which is overwhelming with still eight months to go.

But secondly, 15in15 was about the idea of others taking up challenges of their own, pushing their own personal boundaries and knowing that together if we support each other we are stronger. Jane with her triathlon, Louise with Allendale, and the many like friends Laura and Angela who have never run before, yet have signed up to join us on the Great North Run. They are all testament to that spirit.

It is something I know dad would have been immensely proud and happy about, as indeed are we.