How running the Sheffield half marathon could help farmers in Africa 

Village Aid: Tom Harman running, picture by Jason Florio
Village Aid: Tom Harman running, picture by Jason Florio

A Sheffield runner is asking this year’s half marathon runners to support a unique charity, writes David Bocking. 

Tom Harman from Crosspool is asking participants to support Village Aid, which trains up rural West Africa farmers in business and marketing.

It provides small loans to help people set up their own businesses, sets up clean water programmes and promotes advocacy training to help reduce conflict.

Tom said: “Village Aid is a fantastic charity, the work they've done over the last 30 years has been crucial in changing peoples lives for the better in communities less fortunate that ours.

“Running the Half Marathon for this home-grown charity gives people like me a great opportunity to really make a difference in the world.”

The Bakewell charity is hoping to enlist 30 people to run the Sheffield Half, which will mark 30 years of the group.

Charity worker Annie Hinton said: “Even £50 could support a woman in rural Ghana to receive business training, and a small loan to start her business.

“The ability to earn a steady income would be life-changing for her and her family.

“It costs £14 per person for a new borehole to be drilled, fitted and maintained.

“This would mean much less time to be spent fetching and carrying water, and more time to earn, learn or for children to play.”

Annie has ran half marathons in five countries already, and is aiming to raise £300 herself from donations.

She added: “We hope to create a culture of independent growth and sustainable development, so that in another thirty years, Village Aid won't need to exist and the communities we work in will have moved beyond aid.

“But in the meantime we will continue working to reach as many people as possible in rural West Africa to help break the cycle of poverty.”

National Trust ranger Tom said he was sure half marathoners from what many call the country’s biggest village would be keen to follow the lead of Peak District villagers by supporting the charity.

He said: “There are many issues within our society at home, and we often forget about those around the world.

"The Sheffield Half is a great opportunity to remind people that we have this amazing local charity on our doorstep to support other communities in Africa.”

Village Aid was set up in 1989 by Bakewell student Andrew Kingman with the idea that rural villages in the Peak District could support villages in rural West Africa.

The charity supported four million people last year with the help of parent charity United Purpose and continues to strive for more.

Interested runners can contact Annie at annie.hinton@villageaid.org for more information and to receive a supporters pack and training programme.