UNITED by tragedy, Kate Wilkinson and Robbie Newton will come together at the Great North Run to support their own special charity causes.
Kate, 51, lost her husband Geoffrey and teenage daughter Victoria in a boating accident on Kielder Water in July 2009.
Robbie, 44, and wife Peggy lost their teenage daughter Emma in May last year when severe gales blew down a tree on her car near Corbridge.
Kate and Robbie met at counselling sessions with Tynedale Hospice at Home a year ago, and the pair have now decided to do the half-marathon Great North Run as a team on September 13. Kate, a GP, of Kirkwhelpington, Northumberland, will raise money for THH in thanks for the support given to her and son Ben, 12, who is taking part in the junior section.
And Robbie, of Lowgate, near Hexham, will run in aid of Emma’s Fund, set up in Emma’s name and which has so far raised almost £74,000 to assist youngsters, like talented Emma, making their way in the performing arts.
Robbie said: “Speaking to people who are going through the same as you gives you a little bit of relief.
“To know someone out there who is going through it, in a way makes you feel better.
“We met Kate at one of the early sessions and later I was asked by David Hart at Nova if I would like to do the Great North Run.
“I said to Peggy ‘I wonder if Kate will run with me’. And Kate said yes, she would love to.”
The duo are now in serious training for the big day and Kate, who with Ben is backing THH’s Hot 1000 fundraising appeal – complete with specially-allocated No 1000 T-shirts – is looking forward to an occasion she has taken part in twice before. “I did the Great North Run in 2008 and 2009,” she said, “though I haven’t done any running at all since the last time. So I’m in training now, doing regular long runs.
“As a GP, I use the services of Tynedale Hospice at Home for some of their patients and I have also had breast cancer, so I am aware of the services they offer for hospital support.
“I already knew Janet Jackson at THH, they have been very supportive, and it has been helpful to meet other parents who have had similar experiences. Now we are giving the hospice our support. I want to be positive, not look back, and I feel running is a metaphor for the journey I am going through.
“When I decided to support the Hot 1000 appeal, I was looking for a special person to run with me, someone with links to the hospice.
“And in Robbie I have found that special person.”
THH treasurer Cathy Bates said: “We give bereavement support for anyone who needs it, adult or child, and all our services are provided free to users.
“To maintain the services at the current levels the charity has to raise funds to make up the shortfall in funding, hence Hot 1000, so we are extremely grateful for the help and support we are receiving.”