Kate and her children were supported by Child Bereavement UK after her husband Dave died in a road traffic collision when out cycling.  Kate writes about what inspired her to take part in the London Marathon in aid of Child Bereavement UK.

The scale of our loss is unimaginable unless you have experienced something similar, but Child Bereavement UK provided us with support to come to terms with what had happened.

I started running in 2020 when the pandemic hit and all team sports stopped. My sister-in-law, the stunning Northumberland scenery, and my need to be outside all inspired me to give it a go.

My world was rocked and changed forever on 29 June 2019 when my husband Dave, father to our three fabulous children, died. The scale of our loss is unimaginable unless you have experienced something similar, but Child Bereavement UK provided us with support to come to terms with what had happened. The charity gave us tools to use when faced with overwhelming and unpredictable emotions and found creative and accessible ways for our children to keep hold of memories of who Dave was, warts and all, as we carried on with our lives.

In September 2020, I tentatively asked two close friends of mine if I could join their Friday morning run. I was chuffed to bits that on my first week I completed the 5km loop without stopping. As the weeks went on, the runs became easier and in December I signed myself up for a half marathon – the England rugby player Kevin Sinfield who ran seven marathons in seven days to show his support for team mate Rob Burrow gave me the motivation I needed.

I already knew that I wanted to run for Child Bereavement UK because I wanted to give something back to a service that had given us real, practical support and had made a difference to us in our hour of need, a service I knew would continue to be in high demand because of what was happening in the world around us.

By the end of February I knew I could do the half marathon distance and began to wonder ‘what next?’. The London Marathon kept circling in my thoughts for several reasons: Dave and I met in London in September 1997 and lived there until the end of 2001, so it’s a place filled with many happy memories – the marathon route is littered with them; we shared a love of all sports and every year, without fail, the London Marathon would be on our TV – it was even the winning answer for Dave in a pub quiz; and this year on 20th October we should be celebrating 20 years of marriage and next May marks half a century for me, so I wanted to do something personal, different, and special to mark both.

I bit the bullet, signed up and got myself a place to run on 3rd October, 2021. My aims were to raise as much money as possible for Child Bereavement UK and to not only finish the marathon but also to have run the whole distance in under five hours.  I was running this for me but obviously had Dave (and my family) with me every step of the way - from the music playlist in the background, to the places I ran past. I imagined him with his cheeky smile and a glint in his eye spurring me on, shouting “Run Lairdy, run. Run like the wind!”.

My support crew in London were fantastic, popping up at pre-planned places on the course, making me grin from ear to ear when I saw them, especially on the steps of the Institute of Civil Engineers with a shout of "Chapeau!".  Back home there were more family and friends tracking the runners’ progress on the London Marathon app, fearing the worst every time it froze. On the day itself I channelled everyone's belief in me and my  confidence that I had put the training in, despite an injury earlier on.

I went from being a non-runner at the start of September 2020 to having run the London Marathon, in just over a year. It doesn't seem real; I'm still pinching myself at what I've achieved, to have run the whole distance in 4 hours 31 minutes and 23 seconds.

It was an amazing experience and the crowds were phenomenal, but it doesn't end there. Since January 2021 I have run at least 60 miles every month. My final running challenge is to complete at least that distance for every month this year which will be a full year of running for Child Bereavement UK. So far, I have raised more than £9,500 from both events.

Running has given me the time and space to begin to process the magnitude of Dave’s sudden death.

When I think back to the start of this journey, I frequently questioned myself,  "Am I going mad for signing up for this? Why am I doing it?". My answer is the same now as it was back then - I want to give something back to a fantastic charity and I like a challenge. If pushed to say more, then the more private and personal answer is that I did this for me; running has given me the time and space to begin to process the magnitude of Dave’s sudden death. It provided me with freedom during all the restrictions we additionally had to face in 2020/21. It has allowed me to realise that I am ready to look to the future and figure out bit by bit what I want that to be like for me and for us, as a family.