Matt Garner’s son shares his name with a very special bear.
“It’s a massive coincidence, but my four-year-old son is called Theo," he smiles.
“When I sent off for a fundraising running pack from Sheffield Children's Hospital, and it arrived through the post saying ‘Welcome to Team Theo,’ it felt like it was meant to be.”
Ever year, thousands of people raise funds for the children's hospital; those who have had loved ones treated there – who are grateful for the treatment, care, support and sensitivity of its staff –as well as those simply wishing to support their local hospital.
Matt Garner isn’t local, and he doesn't have any personal link to the hospital. He is simply one of an army of national supporters who step up to the plate every year to applaud its incredible work, and who fundraise so that it can continue to help save and change the lives of children across the UK.
When searching for courses and causes, the budding runner – who was in training for his first ever marathon – was attracted to The Children’s Hospital Charity, which supports the work of Sheffield Children’s Hospital, which treats 260,000 young patients from across the UK and around the world every year. The charity’s mascot, Theo Bear, simply helped confirm he’d made the right decision:
“I definitely was not a runner before I took up this challenge,” he explains.
“I played football when I was younger, but I haven’t done much since. I just started one night- I’d been to a football match and my team lost, so I was a little wound up, and wanted to decompress.
“I ran three miles and really enjoyed it. Before I knew it, I was running longer distances, so I decided to take on a marathon and raise funds for a good cause.”
Matt Garner gathered the support of his local community in Clitheroe, Lancashire to take on the Yorkshire Marathon and help Sheffield Children’s Hospital with their appeal for an expanded Emergency Department. A real community effort in his hometown followed spurred by weekly video updates of his training progress:
“I began a weekly video blog updating my family, friends and colleagues with quick, twenty second videos and the donations stemmed from there,” he says.
“When I did my first 20 mile run, I broke down in tears afterwards. The reaction was amazing, my donations doubled within three days, because people could see the effort.”
In total, Matt’s efforts raised over £4,000 towards the expanded Emergency Department – a regional major trauma centre, treating children from across South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire. Originally built to see a maximum of 32,000 patients a year, it now sees 60,000 every 12 months. Under the new plans, the waiting room would expand to four times its current size, with an additional triage assessment area and more treatment, consultancy and examination rooms.
“As a father myself, you just want to do anything you can to help. To think of the difference it will make is almost overwhelming,” he continues.
When race day arrived, even bad weather couldn’t stop Matt from thoroughly enjoying the day.
“It was pouring rain, but the atmosphere was amazing. There were loads of people there, lining the roads and cheering us on. To anyone considering running, I’d just say go for it. There are so many days you wake up and think ‘I don’t want to run this morning’, but it’s well worth it.”
Visit: www.tchc.org.uk to donate.