Wednesday, 12 September 2018

25 years of fundraising - 2006 to 2010

I didn't do any fundraising in 2006 and, instead, decided to spend the year doing the planning for an attempt to run John O'Groats to Land's End in 2007. I mapped the entire 874 mile route using Microsoft Autoroute. It took many months to check the mileage then double check. I also assembled a small support team of volunteers to drive a support car. Accommodation was mainly in the form of £15 Travel Lodge rooms. 

I planned to do the entire run from John O'Groats to Land's End on a shoestring of a budget. Fuel, accommodation, trainers, nutrition products and travel expenses for the support team cost a total of £1500. With that in mind I decided to set a fundraising target for St Benedict's Hospice at £5,000. 

Having had some success with keeping sponsors updated via a basic website for 5 or so years I decided to move to My website was still but it was now far easier to add a new block of text with photos. 

I published a weekly diary of my training on together with details of the route and news of how the charity fund was getting on. I managed to get coverage of the run in the Evening Chronicle. I also tried (and failed) to attract the interest of local BBC and ITV. 

The run to Land's End was the first time that I wore Brooks running shoes. They were quite expensive but it was like running in a comfy pair of slippers. 

On the eve of the run from John O'Groats to Land's End on July 6th 2007, I was having a pub meal in the town of Wick and heard that had publicised my run. While I had been driving up to Scotland the charity fund had hit £5,000 thanks to readers of I also heard that the Northern Rock Foundation had agreed to match all pledges made by my colleagues. In total, the fund stood at £9000 before I set off. I immediately set a new target of £10,000 for the Hospice.

On day 7 of the run I was challenged to a marathon race by by colleague Steven Moore. He'd only started running earlier that year and it was a tough challenge for both of us.

When I reached Edinburgh on day 11 my shins were in excruciating pain. This pain lasted until day 23 and reduced me to tears on many an occasion. The way the money was coming in to St. Benedict's Hospice, there was no way that I was stopping. 

On day 16, a load of my colleagues from Northern Rock joined me at the 400 mile point for a 22 mile stretch from Castleside to Middleton. Some cycled but most ran.

Keen eyed readers will notice the late, great Jimmy Bell in the pictures above. Jimmy was one of the most humble people that I've ever met. He achieved many great things in club running and I count myself fortunate to have been able to run with him on the odd occasion. Jimmy lost his battle against cancer in 2010 but he served as a huge inspiration to me during the time that I knew him.

By day 35 the charity fund reached £19,000. I was inundated with messages of support via email which made the final few days more bearable. 

I reached the finish line in Land's End after 37 days and 874 miles of running. £23,080 had been raised as I stood next to the famous sign. 

The final total for the run from John O'Groats ended up as £34,108. I estimated that £17,000 of this came via readers of The coverage that I had on which had links to my Just Giving page as well as had proved instrumental in the success of what eventually was to become part of a much bigger series of runs (tune in on Friday to hear more about that).

At the end of 2007, I decided to make my next major sponsored event a 3100 mile run across the USA. I would take 2008, 2009 and 2010 to plan, prepare and save up for it. I estimated that it would cost approximately £15,000 to do and I set a very ambitious fundraising target of £50,000 for St Benedict's Hospice. I subsequently added The Children's Foundation as a beneficiary too. I had a young son and it felt appropriate to raise funds for a local children's charity.


By the end of 2008, the total since I began fundraising in 1993 broke through the £50,000 barrier. The total for the USA run was £1300 at this time. 

I knew that I'd need to create more of a "brand" if I was to appeal to a wider audience. As a result, "Run Geordie Run" was born.

It was around this time that I first used social media and setup a Facebook page to compliment content on I went on to use Twitter for the first time in February 2009.

Peter McCowie and Co, a local accountancy firm, paid for several runs of a Run Geordie Run t-shirt. This helped the USA charity fund grow throughout 2009 and 2010. The Newcastle United first team even warmed up in the t-shirts. A blue edition of the design paid for by raised further funds.

Throughout 2009 and 2010 I looked for commercial sponsors to make donations to the 2 charities. Peter's Pies, Sport Newcastle and Peter McCowie became shirt sponsors and Digital Spark were the main sponsor.

Brooks agreed to supply me with trainers and Northern Runner were sponsors of

During late 2008, 2009 and up to May 2010, I trained one week at David Fairlamb Fitness with Mark Fleming and the other week was more focussed on running. I ran up to 110 miles per week during the running weeks. I also did Dave's Beach Bootcamp on Saturday mornings followed by a load of steps in King Edward's Bay.

When I first met Dave in August 2008, he thought that the run across the USA would be "massive" in terms of interest. He brought a lot of positivity to my training. Little did I know at the time that he would go on to play such a huge part in the success of the run across the USA in 2011.

I was in brilliant physical condition in May 2010 when disaster struck. I told the 600 followers that I had on Twitter "Doh! Flat tyre! Crashed on a corner! Think my ankle is broken. Not good! At least the sun is out.".

When I went to A&E after my cycling accident I was told to "Forget all about the run across the USA" by the male nurse. I was operated on the following day and I managed to get bookmaker's Paddy Power to sponsor the pins in my ankle.

I recovered just in time to do the Great North Run in September 2010. This was the first time that I tried to get other people to raise funds for St. Benedict's Hospice and The Children's Foundation as part of "Team Run Geordie Run". George Caulkin and Mick Butler were part of the team and along with another runner we raised £1502.

Sales of a specially written CD by a group called The Exiles added a few hundred pounds to the charity total.

Local artist Gary Hogg agreed to draw a cartoon which appeared in the Journal newspaper as well as NUFC fanzine The Mag.

By the end of 2010, £20,325.34 had been raised during the USA 2011 campaign for St Benedict's Hospice and The Children's Foundation. There was still a long way to go before the £50,000 target was reached but it was becoming obvious to me that my fundraising had been taken to the next level. had played a huge part in this. Also, the contacts I made via Dave Fairlamb had been very important too.

Tune in tomorrow to read about years 2011 to 2014.