Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Paris marathon bid to help charity

A west Wiltshire woman is running the Paris Marathon next month to raise funds for a little-known charity in the area that provides support to disabled children.

Alison Pendle, 62, is running the famous race on April 5 for the West Wiltshire Portage Service, which is a home teaching service for pre-school children with special needs.

Portage visitors, based in Court Street, Trowbridge, go to the family home every week and work with parents and carers to encourage the children to play and learn with specific goals in mind.

Mrs Pendle is on the management committee for the charity and decided to take part in the Paris Marathon when a friend suggested it last year.

She said: “I did a half marathon back in 2004 and we raised about £4,000 between a team of us.

“I decided to do the Paris one because it is much easier to get a place to run in it than the London marathon and it is flatter.

“My running mate and I have been training hard. We downloaded a training plan from the internet and have been doing 16-mile runs fairly regularly.

“We want to raise as much money as possible for the charity.”

Children who benefit from the portage service often have conditions ranging from Down’s Syndrome to cerebral palsy.

They are allocated a home visitor who devises a detailed plan and comes each week to work on a specific aspect of their learning, sometimes as simple as holding a spoon or sitting up.

They then teach the child’s parent or carer how to continue to teach them when the visitor is not there so the child can progress steadily.

It costs the charity £2,500 a year to properly support each child and they usually work with about 30 at any one time.

But there is always a waiting list and the charity needs to raise about £30,000 a year to support the care funding it gets from Wiltshire County Council.

The charity was awarded a £1,000 grant from the Gannett Foundation - a charity run by the Wiltshire Times’ parent company - in 2007.

To sponsor Mrs Pendle on her run visit or write a cheque, mark it Paris Marathon, and send it to the West Wilts Portage Service, Andil House, Court Street, Trowbridge, BA14 8BR.

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