No stranger to running or park runs, PC James Munden runs regularly with Horsham Joggers in his free time. But over the summer, he decided to take his hobby one step further and commit to organising a 24-hour running event in Horsham Park on 29 September to raise money for Chestnut Tree House – the children’s hospice for Sussex and South East Hampshire.
What began as a conversation with a colleague and old college friend started taking on a life of its own when James posted the event on Facebook. In addition to 10 colleagues from Sussex Police, the 24-hour Horsham Park Run attracted people from a range of local running and community groups, including Horsham Joggers, Mel’s Milers, HAODS, Crawley Run Crew, OMF, Lancing Eagles, and Saints and Sinners, raising a massive £2,562 for Chestnut Tree House.
James explained: “Chestnut Tree House is Sussex Police’s Charity of the Year, which is one reason why I wanted to do this. But I’m also well aware of the importance of the hospice and its care team, as they have helped one of my colleagues and friends. The specialist care services they offer to local children and their families is invaluable, and I’m so pleased to be able to do something to help.
“I set myself a target of £900 when I decided on this challenge, and am ecstatic to have raised almost three times this amount through a combination of online donations, a cake sale, and bucket collections on the day.”
136 runners took part in the 24-hour Horsham Park Run, covering 826 miles in total. At least one person was running at all times – complete with head-torches during the night – with people covering varying distances, from one to 44 miles. The first runners set off at 9am on Friday 29 September and the event finished with the regular Horsham parkrun participants at 9am the following morning.
Jayne Todd, Community Fundraiser at Chestnut Tree House, said: “We are incredibly grateful to James for taking the time to organise this event. Sussex Police have been incredibly supportive all year, but we’re really touched by how much effort people are going to in their own time to raise money and awareness for us.
“We need to raise £6,850 every day to provide all the specialist care services, both at the hospice and out in the community, and we rely heavily on the support of local people and organisations. The amount the 24-hour Horsham Park Run has raised will pay for a child to have a three-night break at Chestnut Tree House, as well as giving two children the chance to visit for the day and enjoy a range of activities. We would like to say a massive thank you to James, and everyone who took part to help raise these vital funds.”
Chestnut Tree House provides care and support to around 300 children with life-shortening conditions and their families across East Sussex, West Sussex, Brighton and Hove and South East Hampshire. The cost of providing this vital service is over £3.5 million per year, yet the hospice receives less than 7% central government funding so relies heavily on the support of the local community to continue providing vital care to local children and families.