Help boost Leeds' cash-strapped charities and hospices by joining major fundraising challenge

Hospices and charities across Leeds left cash-strapped in the current coronavirus crisis are urging people across the city to join in a national fundraising campaign starting this weekend.

By Joanna Wardill
Friday, 24th April 2020, 6:00 am

The 2.6 Challenge aims to get the public to come up with activities to compensate for the cancellation of major mass sporting events because of the pandemic.

It launches this Sunday, April 26 on what was the original date for the London Marathon - now due to be held on October 4 - and encourages people to create their own athletic activities based around the numbers 2.6 or 26 - such as running 2.6 miles or hula-hooping 26 times.

Leeds's Martin House Hospice Care for Children and Young People is among those urging its supporters to join in and help boost coffers of those left with funding shortfalls after the cancellation of this summer's major fundraising events.

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File image of a previous year's London Marathon, which has been postponed until October this year. Picture: PA

Bosses at the Boston Spa hospice have said they are anticipating a loss of £1.7m if the lockdown lasts three months.

Beckie Wynne, director of income generation for Martin House, said: “The London Marathon is just one of the many mass participation events our supporters were taking part in this year which have been either cancelled or postponed.

“The 2.6 Challenge is an easy way for people to have some fun and get moving, while raising money for Martin House.”

Headingley's Wheatfields Hospice is also encouraging people to join in the challenge. As previously reported in the Yorkshire Evening Post, its owners, Sue Ryder, estimate a loss of £12 across its entire business due to scrapping of fundraising events and closure of its network of shops.

Sarah Marchant, with children Zac, nine and Olivia, 12, who have signed up to support the 2.6 Challenge. They have chosen to raise funds for St Gemma's Hospice in Leeds.

And it's a similar picture at St Gemma's Hospice in Moortown. Its head of fundraising, Gail Chapman, said: "As most of our fundraising activities are on hold, we were excited to get involved with the 2.6 challenge.

"Supporters can raise money for St Gemma’s Hospice whilst talking part in a 26 or 2.6 challenge activity. Lots of people have signed up and we’re so grateful to them.

"Every penny raised supports the vital work of St Gemma’s Hospice."

One of the 2.6 challenge organisers, Nick Rusling, co-chair of the Mass Participation Sports Organisers group, said: “The 2.6 challenge can be anything that works for you. You can run or walk 2.6 miles, 2.6km or for 26 minutes. You could do the same in your home or garden, go up and down stairs 26 times, juggle for 2.6 minutes, do a 26-minute exercise class.

“We want people to get active, have fun and raise money to help save the UK’s charities by giving money or raising funds for the charity close to your heart.”

Visit the fundraising website to search for a charity.

Case study:

A Leeds family is all set to run 2.6 miles together on Sunday in aid of St Gemma's Hospice - a cause close to their hearts.

Sarah Marchant, 39, of Kippax, and her two children Zac, nine, and Olivia, 12, will be using their daily allowance of exercise to join in the national fundraising challenge help raise vital cash for the Moortown Hospice.

Sarah said: "Over the years we have seen various relatives and friends be cared for at St Gemma's.

"My best friend's mum was cared for by St Gemma's a few years ago and the support they gave my friend her family through the time she was there, and following her death was unreal.

"Our friend Laura Speight also works there.

"They really are incredibly amazing.

"We did various events throughout last year including the Light Up Leeds walk and attending the St Gemma's Winter Ball and we were due to do the Leeds 10k in July to raise funds for St Gemma's but it's uncertain whether that will go ahead.

"A family friend is currently in respite care there and he and Zac have a cute little bond so, as we are in lockdown, we decided to do something to raise vital funds during these uncertain times for charities.

"Using our daily exercise and combining this with the 2.6 challenge it just seemed the obvious thing to do.The children are looking forward it and we have a justgiving page set up."

To sponsor Sarah and her children click here.

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