Fundraising

I'm Katie Mansfield, 43, married to Mark, mum of five, veterinary nurse from Upminster in Essex. I wanted to tell you why I want to raise as much money as I can for Sporting Memories by running the Great North Run.

Number 94 in the photo below is my Dad, David Searle, running a 400m sprint against his friend, Chris Chattaway, in 1960. Dad was so keen on running he even borrowed some spikes so he could compete on his honeymoon in 1961, and became the Jersey 400m champion! Good job my mum was supportive!!

I have lots of memories of Dad running - he used to run cross country round Epping Forest every Sunday morning with a group of friends. He would go out training regularly weekday evenings and never missed a running day, even when we were on holiday.

Dad was a lifelong member of Ilford Athletic Club and became the Treasurer and then the Club Chairman. When Dad stopped competing himself he became an AAA Starter and Marksman and was at meetings all over the south of England pretty much every weekend during the season. When we were younger he used to take my brother and I with him - I remember many a Sunday afternoon spent playing in the long jump pit and the steeplechase water jump! Dad was also involved in the organisation of the London Marathon from the start back in 1980 and ran a feeding station at 18 1/2 miles on the Isle of Dogs for many years. My brother and I used to go and help hand out bottles of Isostar and sponges, and eventually my first son came with us, continuing the family tradition!

Dad was a maths teacher at Emerson Park School in Hornchurch, where my older children attend school. He would often help out with school athletics events and loved seeing the kids improve and do well. The school now awards the David Searle Cross Country Trophy annually, not to the runner who always wins, but to the one who strives the most to win, which is, we believe, what Dad would have wanted.

My Granddad, Frank Searle, was Captain of Leyton Orient in the 1930's, before WWII, and Dad was an avid Leyton Orient supporter and season ticket holder. His love of football led him to coaching the Emerson Park School boys football team, who were very successful. The picture below is Dad with one of his teams in the 1980's, at a tournament at Charlton Athletic's ground.

After he retired Dad suffered a series of mini strokes which eventually led to him developing vascular dementia quite young - he was only 73 when we lost him to pneumonia in 2010. He had lost the power of speech due to the vascular dementia, but always seemed happy, especially when we sat and read his Orient history book with him which had photos of my Granddad in. I wish Sporting Memories had been around when Dad was still with us - I really believe he would have enjoyed to sit with a trained volunteer and reminisce about his sporting history.

Having grown up with Dad's athletics and the London Marathon my brother and I always joked that one of us should run it one day. He moved to Sweden and is into cycling and triathlons, so I guess the honour of running in the UK lies with me! Until last May I hadn't even run for the bus, and I was a bit unfit after having had five children (the last being twins) so when I saw an ad in the Residents Association magazine for the local parkrun I decided to have a go. Then followed the Couch to 5k Plan as suggested by a friend, and now I train regularly and feel ready to run anything. I really enjoy it and, I guess, taking after my Dad, I want to be the best at it that I possibly can be. I can also use my new found ability to do good for other people who are suffering the same way he did, which is why I want to raise money for Sporting Memories. Someone with dementia has lost the ability to remember recent things but old photos can be used to unlock older memories which are often still vivid in their minds. Talking with someone living with dementia about their past has been shown to be of enormous value in helping that person stay who they are for as long as they can.

Sporting Memories are training volunteers to do just this and I feel honoured to be able to raise money for them by taking part in the Great North Run, and I hope to continue to do so in as many events as I possibly can.

Sporting Memories is a charity registered in England and Wales established to support volunteers engaged in the use of sporting images and archive materials to promote the well being of older people including those living with dementia

Registered Charity Number 1154474