A primary school teacher who is a self-confessed non-runner has been so inspired by one of her pupils that she will be taking on the Great North Run next weekend (September 12).
Ruth, a Year 4 teacher at Burnopfield Primary School, County Durham, decided to raise funds for Children’s Liver Disease Foundation after teaching Edward last year. Edward who is now ten, has Alagille syndrome, a rare and incurable genetic condition which affects his liver, heart and lungs. Amongst the many implications of this for Edward are severe itching, difficulty in absorbing vitamins, and a heart condition which means he does not have the usual levels of oxygen in his body and therefore becomes exhausted very quickly.
“Edward’s condition means that he sometimes can’t do as much as a typical child of his age,” explained 30 year-old Ruth. “And although he is part of a wonderfully supportive class of children, they were becoming more curious as to why Edward sometimes needed time out. Instead of shying away from it, Edward chose to do a presentation for the class. He worked with his family and home tutor to create a presentation explaining his condition, its effects and how the children could best support him. It was completely out of his comfort zone. I was so proud of him.
“Following Edward’s class presentation, we ran a small fundraiser in school to raise awareness amongst the parents. It exposed a real lack of awareness for this condition. With a little research, I found that the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation carry out vital work to support children and families with Alagille syndrome, alongside many other conditions. I felt that doing something as renowned as the Great North Run could go some way towards raising awareness and funds even further.
And while Ruth admits that running is not her strong point, she is determined to complete this challenge: “I’m following a training plan and although I’ve been set back by an ankle injury and self-isolation I keep getting back out there and giving it my best. The school have been so supportive, I am honestly overwhelmed! Within the first weekend, I had reached my £350 target and the donations just kept on coming. Parents, staff and members of the community have been so generous and supportive. During the last week of the summer term we held a Rainbow Run fundraiser with all children running a combined 13.1 mile fun run in hope to raise even more. There’s a lovely sense of community surrounding it all. I just hope I do them all proud.”
Edward and his family are delighted with his teacher’s efforts: “I should say first of all that Edward’s year group are absolutely amazing and he loves school”, says Edward’s mum Rebecca. “The love and support from the pupils and staff at Burnopfield Primary is an absolute blessing. Edward loved being in Miss Alsop’s class and is so grateful for the fundraising she is doing and to the rest of the school for getting behind it.
Teacher, Ruth has been inspired by her pupil, Edward, to take on the Great North Run.
“Edward has a lot to deal with on a day to day basis but he has just so much resilience and he’s so strong, he literally doesn’t let anything faze him, he just gets on with it. He is such a happy, loving, strong, caring, kind young man, he has such a cracking sense of humour and just lights up the room when he walks in. I am so proud of him and it’s wonderful to see his school showing support for him in this way.”
Alison Taylor, Chief Executive of Children’s Liver Disease Foundation commented: “CLDF is the only UK charity dedicated to fighting all childhood liver diseases, by providing information and emotional support, funds for research and a voice for all those affected. We rely on voluntary donations, so it is wonderful to hear that not only does Edward enjoy school but that he has inspired Ruth to take on this challenge for us. This truly is a fantastic example of community fundraising, and we wish her all the best for next weekend.
You can support Ruth’s Great North Run by going to: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/missalsopgnr.