“I can’t expect others to push themselves to the limit and commit to all sorts of weird and wonderful challenges to help horses in need if I don’t do it myself.”
Redwings’ Head of Fundraising Gemma Walpole will be running the Vitality British 10k London Run this July to raise money for the charity’s 1,500 resident horses, ponies, donkeys and mules. And she won’t be running alone, her 53-year-old dad Patrick Carnell will be joining her.
“I have always been obsessed with horses, for my sixth birthday, my best friend adopted Redwings Pepper for me and my passion was sealed; a passion that was, unbeknown to me (or my poor parents), going to be long-lived.
For several years I had riding lessons (even getting my mum back in the saddle) with my dad dutifully driving me back and forth. Twenty years later, just as he thought the pony-days were over, I roped my dad into running the British 10k London Run for Redwings.
Neither he nor I were runners, but we both liked a challenge. And what began as running for Redwings turned into a regular hobby and the kickstart of a healthy lifestyle; this year my dad even completed his first marathon.”
Marred by injury, Gemma wasn’t able to compete with her dad in subsequent races, but she is determined to join him every stride of the way for the forthcoming British 10k:
“I am so unbelievably proud of my dad. Horses are not his passion. But it is my passion for them that is his motivation to run. This year will be the second time we will be running the British 10k together and one I have fought back from injury to join him in. It doesn’t matter how long it takes me or how much my knees hurt, I’ll be running for my dad as well as for the horses.”
Gemma will be documenting her training in an online diary and hopes to inspire others to get involved and raise funds for a fantastic cause.
“I have worked for Redwings for 12 years and met hundreds of horses and donkeys who have been saved by the Sanctuary. I have also sadly seen the number in need increase over the years.
The UK is now in the midst of a horse welfare crisis with over 6,000 horses estimated to be at risk of abandonment or neglect. I know not even Redwings can save them all, but I believe every one of us can make a difference. So I am lacing up my running shoes and stomping 10k with the aim of raising £3,000 (with my Dad’s help!) – enough to care for one horse for a whole year.”