I was at a very dear friends (Gareth) little boys funeral. If my memory serves me correctly Isaac was a little over 12 months old when he was diagnosed with a very rare type of germ cell cancer. He was 22 months when he passed in early September 2013.
On September the 8th 2013 I along with my children and family were at a lovely little pub/restaurant on the River Severn in my home town of Shrewsbury celebrating my Mother’s birthday over a Sunday lunch. It was here that my baby boy of 10 months, in the middle of dinner that Harry suffered his first Grand Mal seizure. We spent the next 10 days in hospital having various tests. Harry was diagnosed with a rare and devastating type of Epilepsy called West Syndrome along with a Micro deletion of a chromosome which has caused global physical and cognitive delay. I am running the London Marathon for his amazing Nursery this year.
We had left hospital the day before Isaac’s funeral with Harry, in a daze as to what had happened over the previous 2 weeks, feeling a little overwhelmed with the information we had been given about the future and not really believing that all of these things could happen to our baby and our closest friends.
We were at the wake of Isaac’s funeral and I know to this day that Gareth has no idea the impact he had on a fire in me when he said “I just want to do good”.
I had already started UKRunChat, a Twitter account in July. I had began re-tweeting fundraising links and offering words of encouragement to people who were running events for charities that were close to their heart. I like to think it was my sincere words even over social media which meant I began to build a following in the hundreds quickly. This would be my way of giving back or in Gareth’s words, my way of “doing good”.
Jeff (@crea8it) who I worked with had ran Manchester Marathon in the April fundraising for his Father in Law who had been treated at The Christie for Cancer. Not only does Jeff have his own personal running story, he is excellent at engaging with people. He often took part in the very popular business hours on Twitter and is a passionate runner.
I asked Jeff to join me over a coffee at work. He immediately said that we should do a #UKRunChat hour. Could we build a community that inspire and motivate one another purely for running in the UK? I must admit I asked all the “what if nobody gets involved?” questions but Jeff was confident.
The UKRunChat hour since we first started in November 2013 has gone from strength to strength. We started on Sundays 8-9pm and that quickly evolved to Wednesday evenings as well which are hosted by 2 members of the community each week. Our Strapline “the fastest hour of the week” explains exactly what happens when you join in. Time goes so quickly, everybody enjoys it.
We have had Olympians take Q&A sessions as well as multiple experts in various fields join us and after just 16 months of the hour taking place, #UKRunChat has consistently over 1250 active runners, supporting, inspiring and encouraging one another every 2-3 days, we receive as many as 3000 messages and mentions in as little as 24 hours now and it continues to grow each week. We can only respond 2400 times in 24 hours so please accept our apologies if we don’t manage to get back to you or RT. We do our very best to get to as many tweets as we can.
So there is the story of how UKRunChat has become what it is so far today. It’s almost 2 years since the Twitter account was registered, since I was inspired by my friend Gareth and Jeff started the #UKRunChat hour.
W are very proud of every single #UKRunChat community member. Your stories are inspiring, your efforts motivate us and the support you give one another goes way beyond levels that we thought possible over social media. All the hard work is worth it when we see tweets like these.
We said it many times before and we will continue to say, It’s the people that make #UKRunChat the closest and best running community in the UK. Thank you for being a part of it.