Sue's challenge to mark the big 40 for Wigan hospice

Sue Barley (left) at a marathon at Beachy Head and, below, at the end of marathon number three in Ironbridge
Sue Barley (left) at a marathon at Beachy Head and, below, at the end of marathon number three in Ironbridge

An extraordinary athlete is raising money for one of the borough’s biggest charities in memory of her dad with a truly marathon challenge.

Sue Barley has set herself the gruelling task of completing 40 marathons in the 12 months before she turns 40 herself to raise money for Wigan and Leigh Hospice (WLH).

She is helping the Hindley-based charity as it looked after her father, popular churchman Robert Buckley who served as vicar at St John’s in Atherton and St Michael’s in Howe Bridge.

Sue, who is from Stourbridge in the West Midlands, is a keen runner and set herself the challenge of 30 half-marathons when she began her third decade and decided reaching the next milestone birthday required ramping up the degree of difficulty further.

She recently reached the halfway mark in the amazing endurance test and is on target to wrap up her 40th run of 26.2 miles on August 31, a few days before her birthday.

She said: “It has been really challenging to fit it all in. In December I only had two free weekends so did two double marathons on the Saturday and Sunday. That was tough.

“I’m doing all official events. The furthest I’ve travelled was to Loch Ness in Scotland and to Eastbourne on the south coast.

“It feels like an excellent achievement to get to half way. The 20th was run around eight laps of a small reservoir in Staffordshire. It’s good to reach that mark.”

Sue hopes to raise £4,000 from her athletic exploits to be split between WLH and the Campaign Against Living Miserably (Calm), which works to prevent suicide in men aged under 40.

She explained the role the hospice played during her dad’s final battle with esophageal cancer.

She said: “My dad was in the hospice for the last five days of his life in May 2014.

“It was an awful situation but a nice atmosphere there. All our friends and family felt very comfortable visiting him there.

“It was relaxing, whereas my dad being at home was very stressful for him and my mum.”

Sue’s father was known during his 15 years in Atherton for his work in education supporting Hesketh Fletcher High School and Atherton Community School which later opened on the same site.

Education was something close to his heart as he had been a teacher before getting the call to ministry.

Sue is also supporting Calm as her husband Nick’s friendship group was devastated a few years ago when his best friend’s brother took his own life.

She says she prefers running cross-country to being on the road and her memorable exploits so far include a shatteringly-difficult Peak District off-road marathon going over a number of large hills which took her 11 hours to complete.

Among the second half of the 40-marathon challenge one that stands out is an event called the Beer Lovers’ Marathon which takes place in Belgium.

To find out more or donate visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SusanBarley1