Andy Fountain, a 52-year-old project manager from Cowfold, is undertaking three half and three full marathons in the next two months in aid of Rockinghorse Children’s Charity.
When Andy’s son Ed was born in 1994, he was diagnosed with tracheo-oesophageal fistula and oesophageal atresia. These conditions meant that the connection between the upper and lower parts of his oesophagus had not properly joined, and the lower half was attached to his windpipe.
So, at just nine hours old, Ed had his first surgery at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, and this started a 19-year journey procedures and surgeries to help improve his condition.
As soon as Ed was born Andy decided he wanted to support Rockinghorse, the official fundraising arm of the children’s hospital, raising more than £10,000 over the last 25 years as a way of thanking the hospital for all the care that Ed has received over the years.
Andy explained more: “I’ve really been fundraising from the first day of Ed’s life. I started with a sponsored swim and have been trying to do things ever since. We were so lucky to have the Alex and all the wonderful support they provided to Ed over the years.
“Having a sick child can be difficult for the whole family but knowing that Ed was receiving such great treatment from such a dedicated team made all the difference and I wanted to make sure that continued for other families who found themselves in a similar position.”
Over the years Andy has raised money by undertaking many marathons, including every Brighton Marathon since they started in 2010. But this year he’s going a step further, running in the London Landmarks, Royal Parks and Oxford half marathons and the Brighton, Berlin and London full marathons.
He’s already completed the London Landmarks Half marathon, but the rest of the events are all happening between now and mid-October!
Andy said: “They were all supposed to be much more spread out but because a lot were postponed due to COVID, they have all come at the same time. But it’s great really because running is such a big part of my life.
“My wife Amanda generally asks what’s wrong with me when I get up so early to go out for a run but it’s great for me to get out in my own space for my head, more than my legs. Before COVID I would cycle 40 miles a day to and from the office whereas now, working from home, it’s only about 10 yards down the stairs so I now have to try and get the motivation to go out before work.”
Despite some nerves Andy is ready, even though he swore he was leaving running behind a couple of years ago; “I must admit I am feeling a little nervous. A couple of years ago I said I was never doing another marathon as I had such a bad time on a couple of my previous runs, but I did a long course weekend in my 50th year and I really enjoyed it, so it made me carry on running.”
Ed is now 26, married and living in Haywards Heath, having been discharged from the hospital when he was 19. And while he still has physical scars from his operations, they are a reminder of all the support he received: “We call the scars on my stomach the spider but they’re there to show that they did what they had to do to help me.
“I’m here because they knew what they were doing and did what they could. I’m here because of their skill and the support from the team at The Alex.”
Lucy Pond, Challenge Events Manager at Rockinghorse, is always blown away by the support that Andy gives to the charity, but this year it’s even more amazing; “Andy is such a dedicated supporter of the work we do. Being the parent of a sick child really gives you an understanding of the amazing support the staff at the Alex provide and in Andy’s case he really has gone above and beyond to thank them.
“We wish him all the luck in the world for these marathons and will be looking forward to seeing what his next challenge will be!”
If you would like to donate to one of Andy’s marathon events, just click here to go to his Virgin Money Giving page.