In October 2013, my world fell apart as I said goodbye to my beautiful baby brother, Tom. He was just 19 years old. As we said goodbye, he told the family that to live without him we needed to 'crack on' and that is something I have been striving to do from that very moment. From the moment Tom decided to start fundraising, I did my upmost to assist him in every way. I entered the London Marathon, I helped organise dinners and auctions so when he died and The Tom Bowdidge Youth Cancer Foundation was created, it only made sense for my fundraising efforts to up their game.

 

The first event I was involved with was the ‘Tom’s Girls’ Calendar in 2015 and I have been a large part of the organisation of a number of balls and auctions. However, sporting events have always been my focus and I have striven to raise as much money as possible by doing as many different challenges as I possibly can.

 

In 2016, I undertook the challenge of 2 and a half marathons in the space of 4 weeks for TBF which took a huge toll on my body but was such a huge achievement as I raised about £3,000 for the Foundation. However, in the summer of 2016, I came up with the ludicrous idea of completing 25 challenges to mark my 25th year to raise £25,000. It would have been 3 years since we lost Tom and I wanted to do something momentous to mark the occasion.

 

I couldn’t think of a better way of showing Tom what an inspiration he was by putting myself miles out of my comfort zone with a series of physically demanding challenges keeping me on my toes (quite literally) for a full 365 days. Tom always put others first, even while he was in hospital he would be checking on other patients before himself and I wanted to show him how much I had admired that trait and tried to channel that attribute in my own efforts.

Challenges I completed:

  1. 9/10/16 - Tiptree 10 miles 
  2. 5/11/16 - Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park 10k 
  3. 19/11/16 - Victoria Park 10k 
  4. 4/12/16 - Colchester Santa Fun Run 5k 
  5. 26/12/16 - Witham Boxing Day 5 miles 
  6. 28/1/17 - Hyde Park 10k 
  7. 5/2/17 - London Winter Run 10k 
  8. 19/2/17 - Anglian Water Duathlon 
  9. 12/3/17 - Colchester Half Marathon 
  10. 9/4/17 - Brighton Marathon 
  11. 23/4/17 - Maglia Rosso Three Counties Sportive 
  12. 14/5/17 - Tour de Tendring 
  13. 27/5/17 - Ride the Night London 
  14. 3/6/17-4/6/17 - Three Peaks Challenge 
  15. 11/6/17 - St Albans Half Marathon 
  16. 25/6/17 - Suffolk Villages 100k Bike Ride 
  17. 1/7/17 - Essex Castle Bike Ride 
  18. 9/7/17 - Evans Cycles Essex Sportive 
  19. 23/7/17 - Suffolk Coast 100 
  20. 24-28/7/17 - Hadrian's Wall Walk 
  21. 5/8/17 - Battersea Park 10k
  22. 3/9/17 - Essex 100 Bike Ride 
  23. 17/9/17 - London to Brighton Bike Ride 
  24. 24/9/17 - Great East Run 
  25. 1/10/17 - Blenheim Palace Half Marathon 

 

Every challenge I completed brought its own difficulties and obstacles to overcome but through every single one, I knew I had Tom by my side cheering me on, beaming with pride with what I had achieved. My favourite challenges were most definitely London to Brighton Bike Ride, Three Peaks, Hadrian’s Wall and Ride the Night as they were so far from what I was used to doing and brought together groups of people who provided me with phenomenal love and support making everything worthwhile. As I cried my way over the finish line of the Blenheim Palace Half Marathon knowing my year was complete, I couldn’t quite believe I had done it. I raised over £15,000 throughout the year which I know has gone to some wonderful causes including the building of the new teenage rooms at Colchester General Hospital. Everything I did, and do, has Tom in mind and I can’t wait to get back on my bike and into my trainers to see which challenge takes my fancy next!