Could you give us an overview of your background and what you do?
I’m a 27 year old freelance documentary producer. After graduating from Leeds University 6 years ago I moved from my hometown Edinburgh to London to pursue a TV career.
What is your running experience to date?
I’ve run all my life; from competing competitively at school, to participating in the London marathon last year. It’s my yoga – a way to destress, switch off and think up ideas or make my plan for my day ahead.
Whether you enjoy running or not – I’m a big advocate that the feeling you have afterwards makes up for the pain you feel during!
Is the NHS something personally close to your heart?
A few of my friends from school and university are nurses , doctors, and paramedics. I could see how much pressure they’re under, and know how lucky we are to have the NHS! Anything we can do to make the peoples lives working on the frontline a little easier right now, we should be doing!
When did this idea first come to you and how did the campaign start?
Just before we went into full lockdown I decided to leave London and come back to see my family in Edinburgh. My job had been put down to a 2 day week so I had extra time on my hands and wanted to help in some way. I’d signed up to volunteer with the NHS, but they weren’t looking at the applications for another week or so.
A few days later I went on a run around Arthur Seat and noticed how many people were doing the same. I thought – if we’re all out running anyway why don’t we run for the NHS staff working around the clock. Similar to raising money for a marathon, people can all donate a small sum themselves while keeping fit and healthy!
I’ve always felt 5k is a good distance to run and feel a sense of achievement, and £5 isn’t a huge ask. If people could share it on their social media post-run it could encourage other people to do the same!
I ran home and told the idea to my family and brainstormed ideas with my friends over Whatsapp. That evening ‘Run For Heroes‘ was born, with the tagline: ‘Run 5, Donate 5, Nominate 5‘ I created an Instagram account and spammed everyone I knew to start their own thread of people. On Saturday morning, my family and some of the friends I’d spammed went on their 5k, and nominated others to do the same!
The first few runners started sending in their photos holding up their hand to represent ‘5’ – it was a genius idea! I decided to only post those photos to the grid, and it wasn’t long after everyone picked up on the trend. 4 days in the initial £5,000 target had been reached and from then on it began to grow.
I’d asked my friend India to mock up a logo as I knew she was very talented at graphics & art. India, even though working full time, totally immersed herself into the campaign and took it upon her to brand it all. From designing the logo, to the website to all the artwork you see on the page. It totally brought the campaign to life and since has been involved during every moment!
My good friend Alice (who thought of the name Run For Heroes) had just been furloughed from her PR job and offered to write a press release. She knew with the right backing the campaign could hopefully raise much more. A few days later she’d got it onto radio shows and newspapers – it was amazing! Alice since has covered all the press requests and has been doing a phenomenal job.
From there we’ve worked together & the campaign has grown and grown – we now hope to see it reach our new target of £5 million!
What made you choose 5 as the key number?
I’ve always felt 5k is a good distance to run and feel a sense of achievement, and then though £5 isn’t a huge ask. If people could share it on their social media post run it could encourage other people to do the same!
I hadn’t thought about nominating another 5 until I spoke to my brother about it. The first day I started the campaign it was ‘run, donate, share’, until my brother came up with ‘run, donate, nominate’ – and as soon as he said this, we quickly realised we could nominate 5 people – to make it 555.
How did you get celebrities involved? That must have been a huge part of the snowball effect.
Celebrity involvement has happened totally organically which has been amazing. I only pushed it out to friends and family at the beginning, but as people started to tag their friends and family it started to snowball.
We’ve seen people like Ellie Goulding, Mo Farah, John Terry, Jessica Ennis, Princess Eugenie, Adwoa Aboah, Poppy Delevingne and Laura Whitmore get involved (to name a few). It really shows no matter who you are, everyone is in this together. We all want the same thing and that’s to help those people helping us.
Your original goal was to raise £5000. This was incredibly reached within 4 days. Why do you think it took off so quickly?
It’s been so incredibly rewarding to watch it grow and expand throughout the world!
I think it took off because we gave people a platform to help NHS workers by doing something lots of people were already doing!
By nominating people it then encouraged others to get on board with it. It’s a simple challenge which hopefully most people can participate in – either by walking, cycling, running or I’ve seen people doing 5 sit ups!
We’ve had the support of the British public who have got behind the campaign early on – and it’s really thanks to all of them!
What was the moment where you thought, wow this isn’t what I expected? (Or maybe you did expect it?!)
From the first day it started – I didn’t expect it! It was just a small fundraiser among my family & friends so when it got to £5,000 I thought – wow how cool, we’ve managed to raise 5k by running 5k!
It wasn’t until we reached 1 million – I stepped back and realised that meant over 200,000 runners had participated globally, and hopefully it also meant they’d all nominated 5 others to do the same!
We can imagine this must seem like it’s happened almost instantly, but where do you think this can go post COVID-19? Do you have another fundraising project in mind?
The immediate future of Run For Heroes is just to raise as much money as we can for the NHS workers. The dream would be to get to 5 million. 5k to 5 million – imagine!!
We’ve recently launched a fundraising page for care workers (The Care Workers Charity) as we know they’ve often been overlooked in this pandemic. We thought it would be a nice way for others to participate again!
To engage with a wider audience, we’ve also started doing live yoga and HITT classes to encourage more people to get involved with the challenge. Lastly, today we announced we’re giving away 2 tickets to run the London Marathon 2020 as Run For Heroes ambassadors, so we’re hoping that we can continue to raise funds in the coming months!
We’ve had numerous messages from people across the globe who plan to set up the same initiative in their own countries. It has inspired others to raise money for their own health workers around the world which is incredible!
But for now, the fact we’ve encouraged over 700,000 runners globally to put their exercise towards a worthwhile cause is enough to know all the hard work has been worth it!