A Barnsley mum has pledged to take on 10 marathons in 10 weeks for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice in memory of her nine-year-old son’s schoolmate.

Marina Whitwam, who ran the Sheffield Half Marathon for Bluebell Wood last year, was inspired to fundraise in the most tragic of circumstances.

The death of her son Lewis’ Hoyland Common Primary schoolmate Mia Cusworth within days of being diagnosed with a rare condition devastated the local community in 2018. But since then, they have pulled together to honour her memory. 

Mia’s mum Dawn Cusworth has led efforts to raise tens of thousands of pounds for the charity that gave the family their final precious moments together after she passed away.

“It’s a very close-knit community and what happened to Mia left a huge hole,” said Marina, 42, from Birdwell.

“Everyone really pulled together and we’ve all tried to do as much as we can to raise funds for Bluebell Wood in her memory.

“I know it’s a tough time for charities right now with so many fundraising events being cancelled so I just wanted to do something positive.”

The mum-of-two is taking the epic challenge one day at a time, using her daily lockdown exercise to grind out the miles.

 “I’m pushing myself beyond what I would ordinarily do with this one. As long as I stay injury free I have no excuse not to go out and get a few miles in every day!

“I’ve already completed what I called the Boston Marathon last week, now I’m well underway on the London Marathon.

“My little boy has been doing a couple of miles with me on his bike each day too so it’s lovely to spend that time together.”

With two marathons already under her belt, the dedicated mum-of-two hopes to run 26.2 miles each week for the next eight weeks around her local streets.

Her challenge comes after Bluebell Wood launched its #LetPledge campaign in response to the Coronavirus emergency, where supporters are asked to pledge to help the charity when the time is right for them.

Sally Baker, Community Fundraising Manager at Bluebell Wood, said: “We’re delighted that Marina has pledged to take on this gruelling challenge for us at what is such an uncertain time for everyone. It really is a wonderful gesture in memory of Mia.

“Thanks to amazing supporters like Marina we will continue to be there for families when they need us the most.”

You can support Marina on her challenge here https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/marina-whitwam1

Click here to join Bluebell Wood's #LetsPledge campaign to make a difference