mds fundraise

Meet Danny Slay, a fire officer from Devon, who has completed some amazing challenges to help both Hope for Children and himself. Read his inspirational story…

Tell us about yourself
I am a serving fire officer of over 20 years from Plymouth, Devon. I took to running on New Year’s in 2011 to overcome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It gave me an outlet to think, focus and unwind. As part of my healing process I needed targets to work too and nothing is better than a challenge! I turned from anti-runner to ultra-marathon runner in just 18 months.

Unlike most runners, I had no desire to achieve a marathon, and to date I have never ran one! But I have numerous ultras under my belt, including running the unforgettable 254km Marathon des Sables alongside Team Hope (five other fire-fighters from Devon and Somerset and West Midlands fire services).

Why do you support Hope for Children?
I support Hope for Children for many reasons; I have raised sponsorship for many ‘larger’ charities and often feel my efforts are either supporting their marketing, or I’ve not had the support I would expect for someone going that extra distance.

Hope for Children are not only making a difference, but you feel that what you do for them is channelled directly into helping make that difference. I get a true sense of gratitude from the charity.

How was your experience running in the 2014 MdS on Team Hope?
The MdS was an amazing experience! In the early days it was a distant dream and as we got closer to the run that dream got closer to reality, but it did not actually sink in until the day we left the UK. Being a team helped us in our spirits and especially in the low moments the lift we gave each other was really important. There were some extremely low points during the event, but the fact we had not only achieved but smashed our target gave us the motivation to complete the run.

Tell us about how you organised Hope24, did you think it would be such a success?
Hope24 was a way of reaching our team’s MdS target of £45,000. I had run a similar event in June the previous year and thought that such an event would be great in the South West. We had no pre-conceived ideas of how many would attend or its success. But in May 2014, fresh from the MdS, we gathered with 196 runners in a mixture of soloists and teams of 2, 3, 5 and 8 to run a five mile trail course over a 24 hour period.

It was never my intention to run this event again, but the feedback from the event was so good, despite the weather, that I decided to try again. This year we have sold over 450 places to date! This is testament to the success of the event, which is further enhanced when you see that people are travelling from as far as Scotland, Ireland and even France to take part. We hope to make this an annual event with a maximum of 1,000 people.

What is your next adventure?
I have signed up to the Snowdonia Marathon in October and would like to organise something different for Team Hope next year.

What tips do you have for those who would like to organise their own Hope for Children event?
The biggest tip is to ‘Do It’, many people have good ideas but are daunted by the organisation of an event. Hope24 is relatively resource intensive in that I have to organise toilets, power, lighting, marquees, medals, t-shirts and the overall logistics, but events can be much easier than this.

I would say have trust in your idea and get support from local businesses and you will be amazed at what you can do!