Press release

Retired Seaton Burn couple to run five ‘marathons’ for Christian Aid Week

Retired URC minister Ron Forster and his wife Shirley have added a global element to their current local exercise, as they attempt to run at least 210 km - the equivalent of five marathons - between them within one month.
Ron (68) and Shirley (65) will use their daily exercise time to run around 6km each as part of their Christian Aid Week (May 10-16) celebrations.
The members of Wideopen’s St John’s URC Church set themselves the challenge after the Covid-19 restrictions meant the usual Christian Aid fundraising activities such as quizzes and coffee mornings couldn’t go ahead.
Ron, nicknamed ‘Rev Ron’ by fellow members of Blyth running club, said: “I hadn’t ever run until I was 60 when Shirley said it wasn’t good for me to sit around like a tub of lard.
“And I just found that I love it, it sorts your mind out and the running club members are so affirming and encouraging of each other.
“I would normally run about three times a week so it is going to be a definite challenge to cover the distance of five marathons whilst keeping to the Government’s guidelines on exercise.
“But the beautiful countryside and good weather have helped us get off to a good start and we hope to get beyond our target and give our sponsors a longer run for their money.
“Coronavirus reminds us that we are global neighbours. But some people are a lot less equipped to cope with the crisis and are much more vulnerable than we are. We are so fortunate to have what we have in this country.
“For years, Shirley in particular, would do house to house collecting for Christian Aid Week and this year none of that can happen. I hope that people will consider sponsoring us to help people who don’t have an NHS or soap and water or who live in crowded conditions and can’t protect their families from this virus.”
Christian Aid’s church engagement officer for the North East Helen Cunningham said: “In times of crisis the poorest, most vulnerable and marginalised are at the greatest risk. We are seeing fantastic examples of coronavirus bringing people together, of neighbours across the North East helping those who are vulnerable.
“Coronavirus impacts everyone, but love unites us all and Ron and Shirley’s run gives us a chance to help our global neighbour.
“Christian Aid Week cannot be a community celebration in the usual sense, where people come together for sales and Big Brekkies and special services and such like. But Ron and Shirley show us how community can still thrive in different ways.
“Christian Aid is currently responding to the crisis in 13 countries around the world for example in Myanmar where our local partners have distributed soap to over 30,000 people and distributed 2,000 surgical masks
 “Please support Ron and Shirley if you can so we can help more vulnerable people protect themselves.”
You can support Ron and Shirley by sponsoring them on their fundraising page To find out other ideas about how to celebrate Christian Aid Week digitally - including a 300,000 steps in May challenge - visit