Henley Forest of Arden FC players club together to raise money for Cancer Research UK
FOOTBALLERS at Henley Forest of Arden have swapped their boots for trainers to take on a charity challenge in support of a team-mate whose father has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
With the Covid-19 pandemic preventing the Birmingham & District League club from training or meeting up, the players will be doing a fundraiser for Cancer Research UK by running one mile for every pound donated, with all individual runs added up in the Strava mobile application.
Henley Forest have taken up this marathon challenge, dubbed Run Forest Run, in support of their player Tom Wale, whose father Peter has been diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer.
Peter, who has lived in Henley since the age of 15, has been a long-term supporter of Henley Forest, having watched the club over a number of years both at home and away in all kinds of weather.
Speaking exclusively to the Herald, Tom said: “Usually you do these kind of charity runs in memory of someone, but we thought it’d be nice to do it while my dad is still alive so he can see the benefit of the support we have had.
“My dad has lived in the area since he was a teenager, been a retained firefighter for 25 years and has always gone out to support the local clubs. He’s a real community person.
“Some of the older lads at Henley Forest remember how he used to travel both home and away when we were in the Stratford Alliance.
“He’d always come to watch me when I was in the team and even if I wasn’t, he’d still make the effort to watch Henley Forest.”
Tom jokingly added: “My dad’s probably more passionate than some of the lads, to be honest.”
The Run Forest Run challenge started last Monday, 11th January, and so far more than £2,600 has been raised for Cancer Research UK, the world’s largest independent cancer research charity, which conducts research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
The initial target was just £500 and to have smashed that has left Tom completely overwhelmed.
The extra donations mean the players will have to put in extra work to cover the miles needed to complete the challenge.
“Within 24 hours of the fundraising page being set up, more than £1,000 had already been raised, so we were wondering how we were going to get the extra miles in,” said Tom.
“The plan was to do the challenge during the first three weeks of January, but now that over £2,000 has been raised, we’re going to be running long into the summer.
“We’re determined to do it, though, no matter how long it takes us to complete it.
“The aim is to keep doing a run every day and then a bigger run on a Saturday, and that’s what the rest of the lads are going to do as well.
“We’ll be the fittest team in the world,” he joked.
Anyone wanting to donate to the club’s fundraiser can do so by visiting https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/run-forest-run-henley-fc.