A CHARITY runner has kept it in the family with his marathon efforts to raise funds for a local hospice.

Fundraiser Ben Bourne, of Darlington, celebrated after completing the first ever St Teresa’s Hospice ‘Great North Woodlands Run’.

Ben, 41, who ran 48 laps of the hospice grounds, was joined by son Samuel, six, on the first leg of the run which was filmed with live updates on the hospice’s Facebook page.

“I was supposed to be taking part in the Great North Run this year,” said Ben, a senior practitioner, family support and bereavement worker at St Teresa’s.

“I was so disappointed when it was cancelled, both for myself and the hospice which I was raising money for, as I know just how much St Teresa’s relies on sponsorship from events like this.

“We thought that rather than do nothing we would stage our very own ‘Great North Woodlands Run’ by running nearly 50 laps of the hospice grounds, the equivalent to a half marathon, and it was great that I had Samuel along to keep me company on the first lap.”

Despite setting himself a target to raise £300, generous donations from friends, family and hospice supporters saw Ben’s fundraising efforts more than triple to over £1,000.

“It’s fantastic that we managed to raise so much money,” said Ben, who completed the run in a time of 2 hours and 27 minutes.

“When COVID struck it wiped out a host of fundraising events that were planned and that has been a major blow to the hospice. It’s wonderful that so many people have continued to pledge their support.”

Based in Woodland Road, Darlington, St Teresa’s Hospice needs £3m a year to provide day, in patient and community care as well as family support and bereavement counselling. An emergency appeal was launched by the hospice to try and make up some of the shortfall cause by the pandemic; donations can still be made at http://justgiving.com/campaign/hugtostts.

Chief executive of St Teresa’s Hospice Jane Bradshaw, who sounded a vintage car horn from the hospice’s E-Bay store to signal the start of the race, added: “It was such a resourceful idea for Ben to stage the first ‘Great North Woodlands Run’ in our very own hospice grounds.

“We have a one and a half acre site which includes wonderful gardens, carefully tended to by an army of volunteers and Willow Tree Gardens, and they made a fabulous back drop for the event.

“It is great to have such loyal supporters and who knows after today’s success the Great North Woodlands Run may become an annual event.”

Ben was congratulated at the finish line by hospice chair of trustees Dr Harry Byrne and the deputy Mayor of Darlington, Coun Cyndi Hughes, who presented Ben with a special trophy in recognition of his efforts.

You can still donate to Ben’s page at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ben-bourne2020.