A grandad is in training for his first ever marathon at the age of 56 - inspired by his Wigan workmate’s tragic loss.
Tom Atkinson says he was moved to tears by pal Trevor Fairhurst’s recounting of how his teenaged daughter Carly was killed by her abusive partner and also his and wife Sheila’s ongoing campaigns against domestic violence and for Victim Support.
And while he has already raised £840 by completing the Manchester Half-Marathon for the Fairhursts, he realises that his next challenge - this April’s London Marathon - is another step up altogether.
Tom, a grandfather of five from Thornton-Cleveleys, Blackpool, works with fellow HGV driver Trevor at Waitrose’s distribution centre in Leyland.
Staff are well versed in the Fairhurst story: the couple have told their story to workers who have in turn raised thousands of pounds for the Carly Fund which pays for Victim Support counsellors.
Carly was just 19 when she was found fatally injured at the foot of the stairs of a house that she and then boyfriend, convicted killer Darren Pilkington, were minding for a friend. Pilkington, who had already been violent towards her, was taken to court accused of the Hindley teen’s murder which he denied, but the prosecution accepted a manslaughter guilty plea. The double-killer was recently released on licence, much to his victims’ families’ dismay.
In the 11 years since Carly’s death, Mr and Mrs Fairhurst have raised huge amounts for the Carly Fund and also given harrowing talks about their experiences to audiences ranging from charities to police training courses.
Mr Atkinson said that people could not fail to be moved by their plight. He said: “I cried when Trevor told me what happened. How they live from day to day, goodness only knows. But they inspired me to do the London Marathon. It’s something I’ve been talking about doing for 30 years now but this story has actually made me do something about it rather than just talk.
“I’m not the most obvious candidate for a debut race: a slightly overweight wagon driver, but I am very much looking forward to it and taking the training seriously.” His training has been including seves and 15-mile runs.
He originally planned to set himself a four-and-a-half-hour completion target for the April 23 race but has now taken friends’ advice just to enjoy the day. He already has £1,200 pledged and hoping to build on that. Visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Tom-atkinson9 or follow the link on Carly’s Facebook page.
Trevor said: “We are extremely grateful to Tom for his efforts past and present. We have struck up a lifelong friendship and he is a thoroughly decent bloke.”