Rainbows Matron set for world’s biggest half marathon challenge

Rainbows Matron Helen Cooper admits she is more comfortable running a hospice care team than running on the open road.

But come September she’ll be lacing up her trainers to take part in the world’s biggest half marathon, the Great North Run, to raise cash for the charity, which supports youngsters with life-limiting conditions and their families across the East Midlands.

The senior nurse from South Derbyshire says she is used to leading from the front, managing a busy team of nurses and hospice care assistants at Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People. But she knows when it comes to the big race, she’ll do well to finish the 13.1 miles in a respectable time.

“I’m asthmatic,” admits Helen, 47, “which is why I have never run before. If fact, I’ve never been able to run at all. Not until I signed up to take part in the event and run for Rainbows. It’s spurred me into action – and since I have started training I have been able to run my first 5k,” she adds proudly.

Helen says she is not just motivated to run by the youngsters she helps care for, but also by the many people who donate to the hospice, allowing it to provide vital support 24/7 to families when they need it most.

She joined Rainbows last year and says it is both refreshing and challenging working for an organisation which has to generate its own funding for the services it provides to youngsters with short lives.

“I’d never had that before when I was working within the NHS. The money was always there,” she explains. “Rainbows has to raise around £5 million a year from donations, just to keep its doors open – so I am very aware of the many people and businesses across the East Midlands that support us so magnificently. How can I not also do my bit?!” she adds.

Her own efforts will be supported by husband, Al, daughter Harriet and her partner, Joe, who have also signed up to run the half marathon for Rainbows.

“We’re determined to do our best – and raise as much cash for the hospice as we can!” she adds.

And there are still places available for anyone wanting to follow Helen’s lead on the epic road race to raise funds for the Loughborough-based hospice.

For further information on taking part the Great North Run for Team Rainbows call Neil Swift 0800 9521133 or email [email protected]

Our picture shows Matron Helen Cooper, (centre), with members of the hospice supporter relations team (l-r) Neil Swift, Gary Farnfield, Nancy Lillington and Emily Wright.