Highfields’ lunchtime supervisor, Donna Lowery, will be taking part in this year’s London Marathon in memory of her beloved late mum - and is now appealing for donations to boost her fundraising efforts to support a worthy charity so close to her heart.
During the day, Donna juggles her role at the school with running her own business, motherhood and marriage, before pulling on her trainers to hit the streets for gruelling running training sessions in the evening.
And she’s now preparing to put that tough training to the test when she takes on the marathon challenge to support research into Pancreatic Cancer, which claimed the life of her mum, Linda Munday, at the age of 60 in 2014.
The 42-year-old, who lives with her family in Penn, will be one of just 70 competitors running the London Marathon on April 28th on behalf of Pancreatic Cancer UK, and must raise at least £2,500 for the cause.
It is her second fundraising challenge for the charity, and comes after she raised £1,000 by completing the London to Brighton cycle ride after her mum was diagnosed with the illness.
“I have been so lucky to be chosen to be part of London Marathon, it’s an absolute honour that they have picked me,” she said.
“Pancreatic cancer is a charity so close to my heart as this is what my beautiful mom died of, leaving my whole family heartbroken and devastated at the loss of such a lovely, kind and caring lady.
“This event is going to be a huge challenge as I don’t have a running background but I’m determined to complete it with the support of all my family, friends, and my mum watching over me.
“She always drummed in to me growing up that I could achieve anything I set out to do, so that thought will be with me on the day.
“Pancreatic cancer is a nasty disease with a very low survival rate. It’s hard to detect with not many symptoms, so by the time it’s diagnosed there is little that can be done. Please sponsor me whatever amount you can afford to support research into finding a cure so we can stop others going through what my family has gone through.”
Despite being a fitness enthusiast who has previously competed in swimming galas, Donna - whose two children, Eden and Lily, are students at Highfields - is a relative novice to the world of running.
She said: ‘I was a swimmer but had never done any running.
“I started running two years ago because I really wanted to complete a triathlon. When I started, I couldn’t run for longer than a few minutes, but I kept going and within a few weeks I’d managed to get up to 5k. I completed my triathlon with Wombourne Black Country Triathletes but I wanted to do something bigger, which is why I applied to London Marathon.
“I wanted to do something to take my mind off the sadness of losing my mum and making something positive from it by raising money for Pancreatic Cancer UK.”
After a tough selection process, including submitting a presentation about why the charity was so important to her, Donna was selected to represent the cause in the world-famous 26.2-mile run.
She immediately started her preparation for the challenge, with her gruelling training schedule now including three 5k-10k runs each week, with a longer run of up to 16 miles each weekend. She hopes her efforts will help her cross the finish line within five-and-a-half hours.
Her daughters are showing their support by joining her for some training runs, whilst her whole family, including husband Wayne and dad Garth, will be cheering her on from sidelines when she takes part in the marathon next month.
“They are all very proud of me. The whole family will be travelling down to support me and get me round,” she added.
“I have already had £400 in donations with around another £600 pledged, so the fundraising is going well. Thank you to everyone for supporting me for this incredibly worthy cause which is so close to my heart.”