At just 18, Ella Burdock, who lives just outside Bourne, will become Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice’s youngest ever participant when she takes her spot on the start line of the Virgin Monday London Marathon on Sunday..
Ella said: “I lost my Mum and Nan from cancer, and during their last weeks they both stayed at and received care from Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice.“Mum was just forty-eight when she sadly passed away in February 2017. Following her passing, I was unable to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Sue Ryder helped me and my family in this moment of darkness. They paved the way for me to see there would be brighter days ahead.
“I owe my mental strength to my Mum but I owe my thanks to Sue Ryder for making me utilise that strength.
“The staff at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice helped me and my family through the toughest experience of my life. They brought a sense of serenity from the overwhelming feeling of heartbreak.”
Ella’s Mum, Bev, was a keen marathon runner, and Ella says she often told her Mum one day she would follow in her footsteps to run a marathon too.
She said: “My Mum was a marathon runner herself and as a child I always wanted to join her. I promised her as soon as I could run a marathon with her, I would.
“Mum’s marathon running was a big inspiration for me, and it seems to run in the genes as I have grown to love the sport.
“Running was Mum’s passion. She even completed the London Marathon herself for Help for Hospices. I remember going to watch her when she did it and when I saw her running I thought ‘I would love to do that when I am old enough’.
“I always pictured it in my head that I would run the marathon with her. Little did I know I’d be running it for her.
“Although she may not be able to be by my side for this one, I know she will be watching come October 3rd.”
Ella, who studied at Bourne Grammar School, started running during the pandemic as a way to boost her mental health and wellbeing.
She said: “I first started to run during lockdown and I really quickly got into it. I found a real passion in running and it has been so good for my mental health. I was studying for my A Levels at the time and I think running really helped me focus on school and my exams.
“Running became an escape from everything that was going on in my life and I started to look to running for headspace.”
When Ella saw entries were open for charity places with Sue Ryder she immediately applied.
“I was 17 when I applied for a place to run the London Marathon for Sue Ryder, knowing I would be 18 by the time the marathon came around. I just wanted to do a marathon as soon as I could to keep my promise to Mum. And I thought why not make my very first marathon a real statement!
“Some time later, I was on the running machine when my phone started ringing. I wasn’t going to pick it up but I had a gut instinct to answer. It was the Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice fundraising team calling to tell me I had a place at the London Marathon. I burst into tears on the treadmill.
“When I told Dad I had a place he said I was absolutely mental. A lot of my friends and family have said ‘oh my goodness Ella!’ but they are all really supportive and the cause is so close to our hearts they understand why I’m so passionate to do this at such a young age.”
Since securing her place with Sue Ryder’s Team Incredible, Ella has thrown herself into training.
“I am very excited and at the same time very nervous,” shared Ella. “I have good days and bad days running, but I am so excited to do it.”
“A lot of the time when I am running my Dad cycles alongside me. It has been so nice to have him there to talk to and he shoves sport gels at me while I am running to make sure I keep hydrated!
“I’m really looking forward to Dad coming along to watch me on race day, giving me his support and to motivate me.”
Ella set out to raise £3,000 for Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice, and thanks to the generosity and kindness of friends and family she has already raised £3,400.
“I am quite overwhelmed by how much support people are giving me. Every time a donation comes through it gives me such an incredible feeling. It motivates me to train and to run and it makes me realise how much this is all worth it.
“My Mum’s best friend, Julie Gay, has been such an incredible support to me. She set up a coffee morning in September to help raise a huge amount of money for my fundraising and she has been on hand to give me advice too - she has run the marathon herself and used to run with Mum too.”
Ella really hopes the funds she raises will help other families needing the care of Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice.
“When Mum went into Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice I was really young and I didn’t know how to cope with all these emotions. You don’t picture something like this happening to you at that age. While we were there all the Sue Ryder Nurses and care teams looked after us.
“Mum was in the hospice over Christmas, and even on Christmas Day when she woke up it felt as though we still had the excitement of Christmas. We spent the day there and the catering team served us a Christmas dinner. It was so nice to sit down together and enjoy a Christmas dinner as a family.
“After Mum passed away Sue Ryder were still there for us, supporting us. Despite Mum being gone, Sue Ryder kept looking after us.”
As Ella lines up behind the start line on 3rd October she hopes she will make her mum proud.
“To take on the London Marathon at 18 to give back to Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice has been a dream of mine for some time and I know Mum is running alongside me. I hope she would be proud of me.
“Wearing Sue Ryder’s name on my running shirt is going to be such an honour. I hope the funds I raise will mean others facing similar battles will receive the same help my family were so lucky to receive from Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice. I also hope by doing this and sharing my story I can show people there will always be a light at the end of every tunnel, no matter how dark it may appear.”
To donate to Ella’s Virgin London Marathon Just Giving page visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ellaroseburdock
For more information on Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice visit www.sueryder.org/thorpehall