Joggers take on the length of Britain in memory of Callum Doe
Dozens of friends and relatives gathered in Diss this month to surprise two runners as they completed the final stretch of an 874-mile challenge.
On Saturday July 17, banners and a confetti cannon greeted Michelle Doe and Linny Whittleton as they completed the final three miles of an epic fundraiser that saw them run the equivalent of Land’s End to John o’ Groats in nine months.
The pair began the challenge in November as they sought to raise money for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (Each) in memory of Mrs Doe’s son, 15-year-old Callum, who died on August 20 from a diffuse midline glioma, an extremely aggressive brain tumour.
Callum had spent the last few months of his life at The Nook, an Each hospice in Framlingham Earl, and the charity has provided ongoing support and counselling for the Does following his death.
Registering their miles through an online exercise app, Mrs Doe and Mrs Whittleton would complete runs before work or during weekends, sometimes covering up to 13 miles in a single run.
The final leg was given added significance as it would have been Callum’s 16th birthday the following Monday.
“We wanted to finish together,” said the 47-year-old. “And it felt right that it was at the weekend, considering it’s Callum’s birthday this week.
“Doing the challenge has given me a focus at a time when I really needed one,” she added.
Michelle’s husband, Ian, was on hand to meet the pair as they approached the finish line outside their home in Willbye Avenue.
“I’m really proud of them both,” he said. “Michelle has needed something to keep her active, and this has been really good for her mental wellbeing.
“They’ve both done an amazing job.”
Having set a fundraising target of £874 – one pound for every mile walked – the pair have more than doubled it, with almost £2,000 raised so far.
“We didn’t think we would raise that much,” added Mrs Doe.
“It has really given us a massive boost – I’m really amazed by how much has been raised.
“And it’s not just been friends and family who have donated, there has been strangers donating, too, which has been a surprise.
“It’s our story, but it’s a very sad story and it I think it strikes a chord with a lot of people. It’s been really humbling.”
The latest fundraising effort adds to the thousands of pounds that have been raised in memory of Norwich City supporter Callum, who was awarded Diss Town Council’s Junior Good Citizen Award in March last year for his work with intergenerational projects in the community.
In October, Alan Carter, a friend of Callum’s dad, ran 83 miles in less than 24 hours, raising more than £2,000 for charity.
To donate to Mrs Doe and Mrs Whittleton’s fundraiser, click here.