A children’s hospital charity has expressed its thanks to a local driving instructor who has raised thousands towards improving facilities there by going that extra mile.
Kind-hearted Matt Garner (36), of Ribble Meadows, Clitheroe, completed the Yorkshire Marathon in October raising £4k in sponsorship which will be used to help Sheffield Children’s Hospital with its appeal for an expanded emergency department.
“I definitely was not a runner before I took up this challenge!” Matt said. “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! I just wanted to decompress.
"I ran three miles and I really enjoyed it, although it certainly tired me out. Before I knew it, I was running longer distances, so I thought if I am going to raise some money for a good cause, a marathon was my only option.”
When searching for courses and causes, the budding runner was attracted to The Children’s Hospital Charity which supports the work of Sheffield Children’s Hospital. The charity’s mascot, Theo Bear, helped confirm he’d made the right decision.
“It’s a massive coincidence, but my four-year-old son is called Theo! So when my running pack came through the post saying ‘Welcome to Team Theo’, I knew it was meant to be,” explained Matt who also has a seven-year-old daughter called Layla.
A real community effort in Clitheroe followed spurred by weekly video updates of his training progress.
“I began a weekly video blog updating my family, friends and colleagues with quick, 20 second videos and the donations stemmed from there. 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 I was putting in,” said Matt.
“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.”
Well known in the Ribble Valley, Matt’s mum Susan Garner runs the Royal British Legion in Clitheroe and Matt played for Clitheroe Football Club when he was younger.
Hoping the local community will get behind him again, Matt is running the London Marathon in April to raise funds for two charities close to his heart – Children with Cancer UK and Friends of Serenity. The latter charity aims to preserve and protect the health of sick pregnant women and those who have suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death.
Matt has already raised funds for Friends of Serenity through a memorial snooker tournament in memory of his father Norman Garner which was held at the end of January.
“I’d just like to thank my family and friends for continuing to support me. It’s hard when you work, have children and are trying to fit training in. My family and particularly my girl friend Laura have been amazing,” said Matt.
He added: “I’d also like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported me by donating last time. The support really was overwhelming.”
To make a donation visit Virgin Money Giving and search for Matt Garner.