Young Brighton runner breaks her own record to raise funds for a children’s charity

Young Brighton runner Bella Armitage took on a 26km run to break her own record and raise £1,750 for Rockinghorse children’s charity.

Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 11:12 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 12:13 pm
Bella Armitage with dad Dan SUS-200505-105633001

Rockinghorse is a Brighton-based charity that has been supporting sick and disadvantaged children, babies and young people in Sussex for 53 years

Bella, aged 12, a Year 7 pupil at Brighton Girls, started running in Hove with her dad when she was about eight while her brother was playing rugby.

She quickly grew to love the sport and took on longer and longer distances.

She said: “I enjoy the freedom of running and it really makes me happy. My dad and I have completed the Park Run in Hove a number of times and I really enjoy trying to beat him.

“Once lockdown started, I wanted to get fitter and decided to run 5km each day. Over the weeks, I increased the distance and before I knew it, I had completed my longest ever run of 16km two weeks ago.”

Then Bella and her dad found out about the 2.6 Challenge, a campaign created by the London Marathon’s organisers as a way of helping raise some of the £67m that UK charities will miss out on due to the race being postponed, inviting people to take part in a range of activities while stuck at home.

As Bella explains; “My Dad and I were talking about the 2.6 challenge and we thought how crazy it would be to run 26km before the end of the lockdown and raise some money for a local charity. I wanted to help young children and that’s when I came across the Rockinghorse Children’s Charity.

“To start with I thought I would try and raise £500, through friends and family, but I am overwhelmed that I have reached over £1,750 already. It was the toughest thing I have ever done, but I am so happy to have completed it. Hopefully I can make a small difference for Rockinghorse. Now it’s time to lie down and rest!”

Bella’s run took her through the Brede Valley in Icklesham, around her grandparent’s farm where she is staying during the lockdown.

Bella’s dad Dan said: “I am really impressed with what she’s achieved. I couldn’t be prouder of Bella. She set herself a tough challenge, in not only running, but also raising money for a wonderful charity.

“It’s her first ever fund-raising event at the age of 12 and has proved to her that anything is possible, if you work hard for it. I had 100% faith that she would complete this challenge!”

Lucy Pond, Challenge Events Fundraising Manager at Rockinghorse, was overwhelmed with the achievement: “A lot of charities rely on the amazing fundraising efforts of runners in marathons to raise much needed funds, but having someone as young as Bella supporting us is truly amazing. We are losing around £50k due to the postponement of many of this year’s events so anything that our supporters can do is wonderful. And the icing on the cake is when a young person wants to support other children who are going through difficult times.”

But Bella isn’t content to leave it at 26km; “My Dad and I have already planned to do the Brighton marathon when I’m 18!”

Thousands of charities are losing valuable funding during the COVID-19 crisis and Rockinghorse is no exception, which is why support like this is vital over the coming months.

The Rockinghorse charity is best-known as the official fundraising arm of the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex) in Brighton. It is a vital supporter of the neighbouring Trevor Mann Baby Unit (TMBU) and its sister site, the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) based within the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.

In addition, Rockinghorse also supports paediatric wards in hospitals across Sussex, specialist neonatal units, respite centres and children’s services in the county.

The charity fundraises to provide life-saving and cutting-edge medical equipment, additional services and items to ensure that young people are treated in an environment better suited to their needs.

For more information about getting involved in the 2.6 Challenge, take a look at their website at twopointsixchallenge.co.uk.