Friday, 18 February 2011

What 40,000 people are doing this week

New Year resolutions are a distant memory for most of us (OK maybe just me) but for about 40,000 people, training for the Virgin London Marathon (Sunday 17 April) is in full gallop. As someone for whom walking 26 miles in one day was a real challenge a couple of years ago, the thought of running that distance is unthinkable so I am in total admiration of anyone who does it.

Every year we have many volunteers and some staff who take on this challenge and we provide support in a number of ways, and those of us who don’t, won’t or can’t run go along on the day to cheer them along. If you have a place and want to run for us, join the Breast Cancer Campaign All Stars team.

Two of my frustrations in life are that I cannot hold a tune and cannot draw anything – not even well enough to entertain very small grandchildren. It hasn’t stopped me loving music and painting. I haven’t queued for hours for many things but until the art galleries introduced booking online for art exhibitions, queuing to get into an exhibition was one of them. We even travelled to The Netherlands for a weekend in order to see the Vermeer exhibition at The Hague a few years ago. The paintings are small and perfect and it was dreadfully crowded but still worth it. Of course, thanks to Tracy Chevalier who wrote the international bestseller Girl with a Pearl Earring, which became an Oscar-nominated film in 2003, that painting is now familiar to a much wider public.

We are very excited that Tracy will join thousands of runners in the Virgin London Marathon to support us this year. She is running in support of several friends who have been diagnosed with breast cancer in recent years. I think what she has said echoes the views of so many who take on these extraordinary challenges. “At times I have felt helpless in the face of what they have gone through. I decided that running the London Marathon for Breast Cancer Campaign was one concrete way that I could help to raise money and awareness. I’ve never run a marathon before so it will be a big challenge but one that I’m ready for, if it helps others affected by breast cancer.”

I think I will now go back and reread the book and wait for her next one – a novel about an English Quaker woman who helps runaway slaves escape from Ohio to Canada in the 1840s.

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