Cure Leukaemia runners reveal motivations for Great Birmingham Run

Fundraisers share their own poignant memories.

Two long-standing – or rather long-running – supporters of Cure Leukaemia are ready to pound the streets of the Second City once again as they take part in this year’s Simplyhealth Great Birmingham Run on Sunday 13th October.

Terry Goodwin and James Gittins are now regulars at the annual Birmingham event, and both have their own poignant motivations for continuing to provide such loyal fundraising backing for Cure Leukaemia.

For Terry, an Assistant Editor with BBC Coventry & Warwickshire, his Cure Leukaemia journey began back in 2012 when involved with BBC WM’s Red Alert Appeal for the charity.

“Whilst working on that appeal, I got to meet leukaemia patient Tony De Grey, who told his story on BBC WM and really put a human face on the charity’s work,” says Terry.

“I still remember going out one day with the breakfast team and Tony and singer Jaki Graham, and busking in various places such as the Merry Hill Centre and New Street Station. We had all built up a great connection with Tony, and I stayed in touch with him, and it was really sad when he passed away a year later.

“I had got into running at the time, and having heard Tony’s story and been involved in the campaign, I was part of the WM team which took part in the Great Birmingham Run for Cure Leukaemia. And I have carried on ever since!”

Terry continued: “I have always been so impressed with Cure Leukaemia and the mechanics of how it all works in funding going to nurses so they can treat patients who have been diagnosed with the disease.

“You can absolutely see the outcome of where your fundraising goes, rather than maybe going into the pot of a big charity and never quite knowing the impact.

“As I get older I have also found that I have been touched by meeting more people who sadly have a link to leukaemia in some way, and there never seems to be too many degrees of separation. There is still so much more to be done, and to see the fantastic work they are doing based in my adopted home city of Birmingham is something which continues to inspire my fundraising.”

For James, his association with running for Cure Leukaemia was launched when his wife Nicola, a Senior Lecturer at Birmingham City University, had crossed paths via work with Cure Leukaemia Chief Executive James McLaughlin. From there, there was no escape!

But James’ (Gittins) support for the charity was intensified after the sad loss to leukaemia of friend Andy Payne, a mainstay at Kings Heath Cricket Club, who passed away in 2016.

James, training and development manager with Legal & General, says: “I was already into running, and am a member of Bournville Harriers, and I started running for Cure Leukaemia after my wife had found out about the charity from James, who she had worked with when sending students to Edgbaston in his previous role.

“And then we lost Andy three years ago, which was so sad, and it just further intensified my desire to keep supporting the charity. e was so well cared for while he was being treated, and I knew just how much of a difference that Cure Leukaemia can make to patients’ lives

“At the end of one of the Great Birmingham Runs I remember bumping into Andy’s son Tom – as we had finished around the same time – and it got quite emotional. I just think Cure Leukaemia are such a fantastic charity to support, and I have done a marathon and many half marathons to raise as much as I can for them.”

There is, of course, plenty of challenges involved in fundraising when taking part in events year upon year, which often calls for some innovation in securing donations.

Terry has tried different approaches such as accepting money instead of birthday cards, and making sure he doesn’t repeatedly go back to the same people, while James tried something particularly off the scale the one year.

“I ran around with a bucket trying to collect pennies from people while I was on the route – that seemed to work quite well,” he recalls.

Both runners are united in sharing the opinion that the event itself, even with the heavy rain of last year, is always a great day for Birmingham and a chance to showcase the city.

“I think it is a chance for everyone to come out and line the streets and have pride in the city,” says Terry.