A Flintshire man who only took up running after being furloughed set to run 874 miles for NSPCC
A man from Flintshire who has been inspired during lockdown to get fitter is set to run 874 miles for charity this year – the length of the UK.
Andrew Collings, 36, admits that when the global pandemic started he had no interest in running, but having been furloughed during the summer he started walking more and signed up to the Couch to 5k to support a friend.
“I was a complete non-runner – a two-minute jog would knock me out of breath – but I got hooked,” says Andrew who works as an Early Years Educator at a local nursery.
“I started the Couch to 5k and just kept going. In 2020, I proved to myself that I could walk 1,000 miles if I tried. This year, I am upping my game and running 874 miles – the length of the UK.
“It’s a huge undertaking for me, but I volunteered for Childline a few years back and so I’d like to raise money for the NSPCC.”
“Their work is incredible and vital to so many children and young people around the UK. Now, more than ever, they need support and so I wanted to do something big.”
Andrew signed up to volunteer for Childline in 2006, inspired by a talk at the University of Chester about the work of the NSPCC, and for three years he counselled children and visited schools to raise awareness of the service.
Andrew, a keen poet, added: “To me, childhood is an incredibly magical time of imagination and learning, of curiosity and innocence.”
“The voices I heard over the phone asking for help while volunteering for Childline have stayed with me, and there are sadly thousands more voices waiting to be heard particularly during this pandemic. It has been a turbulent time for many young people.”
“Through the course of the pandemic, the lives of everyone, including children, have changed in ways no one could have imagined.”
For countless children, the uncertainty and worry from the pandemic has taken a toll on their mental health, while others have felt trapped in unsafe homes – out of sight and cut off from their usual support networks.
Childline has counselled more than 60,000 children UK-wide about their mental health since the first national lockdown, as well as more than 20,000 counselling sessions about suicidal thoughts and feelings.
Now, back to work as a key worker, Andrew is still keen to stay active and raise money for the NSPCC’s Childline service.
He says: “What better way to raise funds for such an incredible charity than to set myself an enormous challenge – completing a virtual run from Land’s End to John O’Groats over this year.
“I’ve already started running and it’s been hard at times, especially with the snow and icy winds but I’m sticking with it.
“I’m hoping to raise £1 per mile, so that’s what keeps me running. Every run, every step is more money and support for Childline. That’s my motivation.”
NSPCC Cymru/Wales Supporter Fundraising Manager, Emma Brennan added: “It’s quite a challenge that Andrew has set himself and a huge distance to cover, but it’s wonderful to see the level of support he has from family and friends – and we’ll be cheering him on virtually too.
“As a former Childline volunteer, Andrew knows first-hand the types of contacts we receive from worried children. When a young person needs help, or feels like they have nowhere else to turn, it’s vital that our trained Childline counsellors are here, ready to listen.
“That’s possible thanks to fundraisers like Andrew – who contribute to the public donations our charity relies on for 90% of its income.”
To find out more about supporting the NSPCC to be there for children when they need it most, visit the charity’s website. To follow Andrew’s challenge, visit his fundraising page.
Children can contact Childline every day of the week on 0800 11 11 or via childline.org.uk. Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com