Three supporters of Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice have well and truly run with the fundraising bug…

The Chesterfield women are now in their TENTH year of charity runs and say they hope to carry on for ANOTHER decade.

Since 2013, Nicola Yeomans, twin sister Alison West and pal Joanne Clarkson, known as the Purple Shooting Stars, have raised over £20,500.

They have clocked up over 14,000 miles - and got through 60 pairs of running shoes in the process.

It’s all to support the North Anston-based hospice, which gives care and support to children and young adults with life-shortening conditions across South Yorkshire, North Derbyshire, North Nottinghamshire and parts of North Lincolnshire. 

“I can’t believe that 10 years have gone by and how much we’ve raised,” said Nikki, 44, of Heath in Derbyshire. “Each year we set a goal of £1,000 but doubled it every time, thanks to the amazing people who sponsor us. We  never intended to do it for so long but when we got the fundraising bug, it never left us.

“Setting ourselves yearly challenges is now a fact of life and we hope we can do another ten years. It will always be for Bluebell Wood, though. We would never want to fundraise for any other charity,” added Chesterfield Borough Council benefits officer Nikki, who set the ball rolling when she decided to tackle the Great North Run.

The council had chosen the hospice as its 2013 Charity of The Year and after nothing more strenuous than a 5K, she signed up for the GNR with a workmate.

Nikki enjoyed it so much, she and sister Alison, a school dinner lady, completed the Chesterfield Half Marathon for the hospice.

They linked up with mum of two Jo, from Duckmanton, and formed the Purple Shooting Stars running group, named after the hospice’s purple logo.

Witnessing the support staff give to children and families on a visit to the hospice fuelled their determination.

“It was a very emotional experience for us and when we discovered the hospice has to raise £5.1M just to open its doors every year, it made us want to do more and more,” said Nikki.

By the end of 2016 the women had raised £7,500 and set themselves  a yearly mileage challenge.

In 2017 they ran the equivalent of Lands End to John O’Groats and raised £1,938, and a year later clocked up 1,254 miles, the distance from London to Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia, bringing in £2,831.97.

In 2019 Nicola, mum of three Alison and mum of two Joanne swam, ran and cycled the length of several Olympic Triathlons.

In 2020 during the pandemic lockdowns they ran separately and racked up a total of 1,667 miles, the distance from Chesterfield to Berlin.

In 2021, to mark the fact that the Great North Run had been cancelled in its 40th year, they ran 1,572 miles - the distance of 40 GNRs.

Last year, to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, they ran the equivalent of 70 half-marathons - and found the energy for a sponsored canal boat pull along the Worksop Canal. As they have done most years, they also staged fundraising fashion shows, raffles, coffee mornings and Christmas stalls and the total raised was £2223.46.

What’s on the cards for 2023? In addition to a number of 5K and 10K runs, the Worskop half marathon and a fashion show in May, they will be taking part in the official Virtual London Marathon on April 23.

“We will run and walk 26 miles from Nikki’s home in Heath to the hospice in North Anston,” said Alison, of Holmewood, who is now training as a teaching assistant. “We hope to make it a big event to celebrate our 10th Bluebell Wood anniversary. We are now plotting the route and will be asking people to join us for as much as they can manage.”

The women feel a big part of their decade-long achievement is the fact that they have been able to spread the word about the work of the hospice and the fundraising it relies on.

There have been personal benefits, too… Says Jo, 41, a special needs teacher and an area manager for SSSEN Chesterfield: “Running outdoors and achieving the goals we set ourselves has been great for our mental wellbeing. And we are slimmer, stronger and fitter, too!”

Courtney Beddingham, Regional Fundraiser at Bluebell Wood, said: “Alison, Nicola and Joanne have been super-loyal to us for an entire decade. Their commitment, not to mention their boundless energy and determination to meet challenge after challenge, is nothing short of amazing. We are so very privileged to have their support.”

Find out more about the women’s Virtual London Marathon event here or on their Facebook page Al Nic Jo.