Running for The Seahorse Project
Last year, Debbie Kelly decided to run the Beachy Head 10k to raise money for The Seahorse Project – our bereavement support service for children and young people. The project, funded by Children in Need, has recently helped Debbie’s children to come to terms with their own grief, so she knows exactly how beneficial the support can be.
Now, Debbie has decided to take it one step further and face the infamous hills of the Seven Sisters once again by running the Beachy Head Marathon on the 22nd October.
‘I wasn’t always a runner,’ she told us. ‘I decided to run the Beachy Head 10k as the next thing to aim for after completing the Couch to 5k programme. The hills were a struggle, but it was such an achievement to have done it. I suggested to my friends that we do it again this year, but they somehow talked me into doing the marathon instead! All the money we raise will be donated to St Wilfrid’s to go towards The Seahorse Project.’
In 2016, Debbie’s father died from cancer of the lung followed by her nan two years later and her best friend a year after that. ‘It’s been an awful few years and having to explain it to my children was really hard.
‘It was clear they were struggling; my daughter Holly wasn’t sleeping, while my son Joshua didn’t really talk about it at all. I was struggling to help them as well as grieve myself, so I was looking for someone else for them to talk to. That’s when I discovered The Seahorse Project.
‘Because it was during the height of the pandemic, their sessions were delivered over the phone. Holly had six and Joshua had 12. I didn’t know much about the hospice because my dad had died at home in East Preston so I didn’t know what to expect, but I can definitely see a difference. They both seem a lot happier, and Holly is sleeping better now.’
While running has given Debbie something to focus on through her bereavement, the Beachy Head Marathon is taking place on the same weekend of the anniversary of her father’s death, making it even more meaningful.
‘Dad was the bravest man you would ever meet. He was so hardworking and always put his family first. When he was diagnosed, he used a lot of dark humour which kept us all going. We would have crumbled without his jokes. We even had to talk him out of having Morris dancers to carry his coffin! He had planned everything when it came to his death.
‘While Dad was ill, I felt so helpless that I couldn’t make him better, so I decided to start fundraising to have something to focus on and now to raise money in his memory.
‘I’m looking forward to the marathon, but I am apprehensive about the hills. The 10k was hard and this is going to be same but ten times over! However, if I can help some children to get the support they need to make sense of what they are going through it doesn’t matter whether I run, jog or walk it.’
Between 2020 and 2021, 90 children and young people received counselling sessions through The Seahorse Project. If you would like to help Debbie raise money for this vital service, please donate to her JustGiving page.