One of the reasons I want to run the London Marathon is because I went to watch it when I was younger and I was taken back by the atmosphere and how far people were willing to push themselves physically and mentally to finish. It has always been in the back of mind… can I do it?!

Another reason is because I was bullied at school for the way that I ran. For me I feel it’s important to run the London Marathon to show the people who bullied me that I never gave up on what I was good at because of them, and that instead they made me hungrier to make something of myself.

Since 2018 I have taken part in three half marathons and one marathon.  I ran the Kent Coastal Marathon and after running that I didn’t ever want to run again.. but here I am training for the London Marathon!

It means absolutely everything to me.  It’s going to be one of the pinnacle moments in my life. I have dreamt of running the London Marathon and seeing all my family on the finishing straight 100 times over

Why I'm running for Aspire

My mum had a curvature of the spine when she was young and had a rod put in her back to prevent her from any problems with spine curvature later on in life.  Although she didn’t have a spinal injury, her story made me appreciate just how important your spine is and just how different life could have been for her without the treatment she had.

It has also always been on my bucket list to be someone who raises as much money as possible for as many different charities as I can. There are many people living life in different circumstances and I want to understand what the different circumstances are that people are living under, so I know what I can do to help them.

Aspire was not a charity I knew a lot about, so I wanted to take interest in them, raise awareness for them, so other people can learn about the great work they do

Organising the comedy night

Back in April I started a new job at my local Community Centre as an Administration Assistant. My job involves dealing with event bookings for our halls. I wanted to come into this new job and make a statement to prove my employers made the right choice in employing me. I wanted to do something fresh, something different, and something that the Community Centre hadn’t seen, or at least not seen for a while. I wanted to host an event, one which would bring a new audience to the centre and capture the attention of those outside the village of Ditton.

Knowing that I was also running the London Marathon next year and needed to raise £2,000, I decided to make this a charity event and after thinking of the different events I could do, I opted for a comedy night.

I saw that Simon Brodkin (Lee Nelson) had played in a venue nearby not so long ago, so I decided to contact his agent to try and arrange this comedy night. Within seconds, I had the date confirmed and a sense of panic and excitement set in. I had drawn one of the biggest names in comedy to Ditton but now I had to sell a significant number of tickets to cover the costs of Simon and the support act to make the night worthwhile. I had seen Simon perform as Lee Nelson a couple of times previously and loved him, so it was kind of to my personal taste, but I saw that he could draw in a wide audience, of generations old and new as well. He’s a ticket seller, so I knew if anyone could sell tickets, he would be the man.

Ben with the comedian

I came across Mark Simmons through a comedy agent who suggested him as a potential support act. I liked what I saw of Mark so was quick to take up on the offer and when Mark was announced as a guest on Mock the Week a week later, I knew I had picked the right man for the job.

To promote my event, I created some flyers which I dropped off around my local area. I also did lots of work on social media to promote the event, joining lots of comedy groups locally and sharing my posters. I was also pushing for an interview with the Kent Messenger to try and promote my event which I managed to get, in the final week leading up to the show. I spent hours upon hours contacting companies for sponsorship so that I could get some promotional material made and managed to obtain two sponsors - Frisby Building and Molly Moodle Media - which I am very thankful for as this gave me the opportunity to do some event programmes.

Ben with the comedian

I also contacted a number of businesses and clubs to see if they would be willing to donate any raffle prizes towards a charity raffle which I also had planned for the evening. I had some great prizes donated which included a one night stay at the De Vere House B & B (seen as Godric’s Hollow in the Harry Potter films), a 50 minute massage, a full set of get nails experience, a bungee jump, an ice skating experience for a family of four, a training session with Ebbsfeet United FC and more!

I sold nearly 240 tickets to my comedy night in the end which was a great turnout.  I had family and friends (some who travelled from as far as France to come and support me), which meant a lot. I also invited Paul Parrish, Aspire’s Director of Fundraising and Marketing, and I was delighted when he turned up and saw how succesful the evening was.

Ben with Paul Parrish

I was very nervous standing behind the curtains before being introduced to the crowd for the opening speech of my event, but it was equally as humbling as it was exciting to see so many familiar faces and new faces alike, coming together to support me and this great charity.  I have now raised £2,281 and have a quiz planned closer to the time of the Marathon to give my fundraising one last push.  It has been amazing, never in a million years did I think I would raise over £2,000, let alone by 1st December!

If anyone is struggling with their fundraising or training, believe in yourself, take risks and persist, you will get there. If at any point you feel like giving up, don’t, remember who you are doing this for

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