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Claire’s marathon effort for causes close to her heart

A Warwick mum is hoping to run up big totals for two local causes close to her heart in a marathon fundraising effort this weekend.

Claire Hammond is gearing up for her first London Marathon on Sunday (October 3rd) – in aid of charities Molly Olly’s Wishes and Northleigh House School.

It marks the culmination of five months of training for the 43-year-old who admits to having modest ambitions for the race.

“I just want to finish it safely and injury free. I don’t have a finishing time in mind – it would be good to finish before they re-open the roads!” she quipped.

“It is as much a mental challenge as it is physical one, so I want to be strong mentally and to not panic on the day and fear that I can’t do it. When you run, especially long distances, you have to learn to silence the voices in your head telling you that you can’t do it. I don’t listen to music or anything when I run, so I have been practising this as much as clocking up the miles on my training runs.”

She added: “I have built up gradually over the last five months, from running 5k, to 10k, then taking part in the Leamington Spa and Solihull Half Marathons, to running 16 miles and finally 20 miles. I have tried to run three times a week, a lot of it running up steep hills where I live!”

Molly Olly's Wishes, Northleigh House School, London Marathon, Claire Hammond
Claire Hammond trains with some of the Northleigh House School students.

Molly Olly’s Wishes was established in 2011 following the death of Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw’s eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer.

The Warwick-based charity works to support children with terminal or life-limiting illnesses and their families and help with their emotional wellbeing as well as grant wishes and donate therapeutic toys and books to both children directly and to hospitals throughout the UK.

It also works alongside the NHS to support projects within the hospitals and the community, including funding the first Molly Olly consultant in paediatric palliative medicine and furnishing Magnolia House, both at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Their mascot is a therapeutic toy lion called Olly The Brave who has his own Hickman line and a detachable mane which helps to explain and normalise the effects of chemotherapy. These form part of an Olly The Brave pack that has now been handed out to more than 40 hospitals, along with a book from the charity’s exclusive six-part series.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the charity which, last October, moved into its first dedicated town centre premises, in Warwick – the month in which Molly would have turned 18!

Founder Rachel Ollerenshaw said: “We are so grateful to Claire for deciding to run the London Marathon for Molly Olly’s Wishes. Every penny raised allows us to emotionally support those children and their families. To date, we have helped more than 15,000 young people and we have granted more than 2,100 wishes. Huge thanks again to Claire.”

Molly Olly's Wishes, Northleigh House School, London Marathon, Claire Hammond
Claire finishing the Solihull Half Marathon last year.

Northleigh House School was established in Shrewley in 2012 by Viv and late husband Fred Morgan who were moved by stories of bullying in secondary schools.

After discovering a lack of facilities to support these young people, they decided to address the growing need for a safe and nurturing environment for students to continue their education whilst receiving any counselling and support they need to rebuild their shattered self-confidence and self-belief.

More than 120 students have passed through its doors, and there is an ever-growing waiting list.

Viv said: “Our students have experienced traumas of some kind that have left them emotionally vulnerable within mainstream schools so they are often ‘switched off’ from learning.

“We are always incredibly grateful to friends and supporters like Claire, who literally go the extra mile to support us. We have been so impressed by her hard work and will be cheering her all the way!”

For further information about Northleigh House School call 01926 958227 or visit:

For further information about Molly Olly’s Wishes contact Rachel on 07747 854914 or visit:

Molly Olly's Wishes, Northleigh House School, London Marathon, Claire Hammond
L-R Claire Hammond, Rachel Ollerenshaw and Viv Morgan.

Claire Hammond added: “Both charities bring light to children and families facing darkness. I know Molly’s family well, and I wanted to play a small part in helping them grant wishes to children and their families who are facing such difficult circumstances.

“I asked Rachel to share with me some of the wishes they have granted, to remind me of the joy they bring amongst the pain and suffering, and this has spurred me on in my training when things have felt tough.

“My child attends Northleigh House School, and we are truly thankful for this place. Northleigh has offered my family a lifeline and hope for the future.

“My child was unable to attend secondary school due to severe anxiety, spending two years at home but Northleigh has been central to rebuilding their mental health, enabling our child to live a full life which has, in turn, benefited us all as a family. Without it, our lives would be unthinkable. We are so grateful. It is thanks to Northleigh House that our family can breathe, smile and enjoy our lives.”

“Mainstream schools are paralysed by Ofsted rules, and performance tables, preventing them from adapting to the emotional and well-being needs of their pupils. Northleigh gets to the heart of what is important and removes those barriers.”

To sponsor Claire visit: