The past year has been one of the most challenging times St Wilfrid’s Hospice has faced in its 40-year history. With our Community Shops having to close and our fundraising events cancelled, the pandemic has had a terrible effect on our income. However, our wonderful community have stood by us and generously supported us in any way they can, especially through their own fundraising challenges.

One of these brilliant people is Elaine French who, this year, is running 12 half marathons across 12 months. Here, she kindly shares her story:

‘I fell into running by accident. I was always the person who used to look at other people running and wonder why they would put themselves through that, but then I took it up about five years ago and I really enjoyed it. At first, I trained to do a 10k, then after completing that I tried a half marathon. Then, in 2019, I ran the Brighton Marathon.

‘I didn’t want to stop running, but without a challenge I didn’t know where to go from there. I’m turning 50 next year, but I want to spend it celebrating, not training, so I thought I would mark it with a challenge in the run-up to it. The hospice cared for my father-in-law in February 2020, so it felt natural to do it in support of St Wilfrid’s.

Elaine's father-in-law, Bob

‘My father-in-law, Bob French, was a funny, warm and kind man. He was the most fantastic grandfather, too! He spent about two weeks on the Inpatient Unit before he died. The care he received, and the support the hospice gave us, was totally amazing. It was a massive comfort; we could see the relief on his face as soon as he got there. We have some really positive memories from the time he spent at the hospice.

‘We miss him a lot, but we consider ourselves very lucky to have had him for as long as we did. I’m pleased that he got to see his grandchildren grow up.

‘The plan was to do 12 hosted events – like the Brighton Half Marathon, which was supposed to be in February – but now they’re all going virtual. I completed my first half marathon on Saturday 27th March, which was a virtual one held by Women’s Running magazine, and I beat by best time by two minutes!


‘On Saturday 10th April, I’ll be doing the Great Welsh virtual half marathon. I’m actually going to be going up to Crawley for that one as a lot of my family live there, so I’ll be knocking on all their doors as I run past! Following on from that, I have signed up to do the virtual Richmond Runfest in May and the Brighton Half Marathon has been moved to June. I'll then be doing one at Goodwood on the 4th July, the South Coast Half Marathon on the 22nd August and RunReigate on the 19th September. I have yet to book the rest!

‘I’m really looking forward to it. Thankfully the training hasn’t been as hard as it would be if I was doing a marathon. I’ve only been training properly for the past six weeks because my motivation dropped off quite a bit during this last lockdown. I thought I’d have to walk some of the first half marathon I did, but instead I beat my personal best!’

We would like to take this opportunity to wish Elaine the best of luck as she continues with her challenge. If you would like to show your support, you can donate to her JustGiving page here.

Our work is only part-funded by the NHS, so every penny raised by our generous community and people like Elaine makes a huge difference to the lives of our patients, their friends and family, and their carers. As we celebrate 40 years of St Wilfrid's, we hope that, with your help, we can raise the funds that we need to keep going for the next 40 years. Thank you.