Norwich minister runs Sierra Leone marathon
Rev David Lloyd, along with a team of people from St Thomas church in Norwich, are running a marathon in Sierra Leone for the charity Street Child. They will also be visiting and supporting the projects that make a difference to vulnerable children.
Churches for Street Child is a supporter-led initiative started by Norwich vicar David Lloyd. It is a network of churches who support Street Child's work helping vulnerable children to go to school.
The Sierra Leone Marathon has been running since 2012. From humble beginnings, it has grown to be Street Child’s flagship fundraising event - raising over £1.5million. It is a unique event in that everybody that travels to participate is united in a common fundraising goal: to support the projects of UK charity Street Child.
Whilst on the ground, the runners will be given the opportunity to visit, meet and draw inspiration from the very children that they have been fundraising for - some of the most vulnerable children in the world.
The Sierra Leone Marathon - which will take place on May 28 - was crowned best international event at this year’s Running Awards, which celebrates the world’s best and greatest marathons. The 2017 marathon will return to bustling Makeni, the third largest city in Sierra Leone and home to Street Child's first-ever projects.
Dave Lloyd said, "We have twelve runners and one filmmaker going out to encourage the work of the charity and to raise the profile of Churches for Street Child to encourage more churches to engage in the work of the charity.
"Many of the social workers and programme directors in Sierra Leone are church pastors and they greatly value our support and prayers. We will be linking with churches, visiting the projects that do a number of things such as; care for street children and Ebola orphans, build schools in areas where there are none and support family businesses so that they do not lose their children to the street. We also support three schools out in Sierra Leone so we will be spending time playing games with the children and sharing gifts and scrapbooks the children from our church have made."
One of the team's runners, Joel said:
"I’m really looking forward to running alongside my brother and other friends within our group. It’s going to be a tough challenge but I’m excited to take it on and complete it!‘ I thought it would be an adventurous experience to go to Sierra Leone to see the work that Street Child is doing, while running a marathon along the way. It will be tough, but I think a lot of motivation on the day will get me past the finish line.’
More than 400 runners from all corners of the globe have taken part over the years, and in Sierra Leone the profile of the marathon has grown to become the country’s biggest sporting event. Runners need to cover their own costs and are encouraged to raise £1000 each. Just £20 can send a child to primary school for a year. As the sixth annual marathon approaches, the event is just as relevant as ever as the country still recovers from the devastation left behind by the Ebola epidemic of 2014-5 - that cost over 4,000 lives and orphaned more than 12,000 children.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) officially declared Sierra Leone free of Ebola on 7th November 2015. Street Child's focus is now helping to supported the Ebola-affected children. Street Child has identified 1,400 seriously at-risk Ebola orphans across Sierra Leone and Liberia who are in urgent need of support.
St Thomas Norwich have been involved with the marathon since its inception in 2012. St Thomas' have funded two schools in Sierra Leone and last year they arranged a trip to visit one in combination with the marathon.
Any church can get involved in 'Churches for Street Child'. Click here for more information
Click here to donate to the St Thomas team
Pictured above: The team from St Thomas in 2016 at the church's project in Sierra Leone