Hats off to Heroes ‘Running for Tory’

The Great West Run, May 25th Exeter

From our athletics correspondent

Dawn eases its way into downtown Plymouth. Nothing moves save a lone sea gull overhead, shrieking its discontent to the empty streets. Propelled by the cool breeze, an empty McDonald’s wrapper, tumbles past the minibus, whose blacked-out windows reveal nothing. Anonymous. Unremarkable. Ordinary. Maybe.

Inside, the driver nervously polishes his glasses for the umpteenth time. Tension mounts. Minutes pass. A clock chimes the 06.30 deadline. A group of young people appear as if from nowhere. They laugh and chat as they make their way to the vehicle. “Hmm”, thinks the waiting retired medic and ‘tour’ guide, irritably: “Let us see if the blighters are as cheerful as this in a few years’ time come a Sunday morning when they get called to the wards”. This is, of course, sour grapes as he is well past his sell-by date and full of bitterness.

But all is well. No laggards these, but our team of enthusiasts making their way to run in memory of their friend, Tory, who was taken so unfairly in the prime of her young, student, life. There is a detour on the A38 which is completely closed just outside Exeter but Geoff our driver is unfazed, and we pick up Robin Fraser at Marsh Mills to arrive in good order and time for the 09.00 start. We join the trickle of runners walking into Exeter Arena and make our way to join Louisa who is on her way to sainthood, having loaned her gazebo and volunteered her time to this venture.

The atmosphere is friendly and the weather – sunshine with a couple of heavy showers thrown in. We have a mix of distances. Some, including our intrepid Chair Prof Copplestone, are signed up for the 10k; most of the young folk, the half. For many it is their first such event. There are around 3,000 taking part and to ensure orderly dispatch runners have declared their target times and are ‘penned’ in smaller blocks for staggered ‘release’ on to the course. For those unfamiliar with such matters, each runner has a paper sheet pinned to the vests. The vest has a chip which triggers the timer as each crosses the starting line and records precisely the stime of completion at the finish line. The overall winner today is an elite runner, Joshua Benford, in 1 hr. 9minutes. The record stands at 1hr. 7minutes.

Running is hard, especially a hilly 13 miles non-stop in sunshine. Our runners entered to take part and finish, which they did magnificently. A couple of our seasoned ‘ringers’ ( Jevon George-Jones 1 :43:49 and Robin Fraser 1:59:48) showed their mettle and just how it can be done. It was agreed they were show-offs and as such were (almost) completely ignored. Everyone gave it their all, and everyone finished in fine style, celebrating Tory in a manner of which she would have been proud – although she actually hated running! Including Gift Aid, approximately £4,000 has been raised so far and in addition to the £17,000 already achieved by Tory’s parents. The fund remains open and the proceeds will be devoted to local research into Parkinson’s. The accompanying pictures tell the tales and so well done to you all!


Robin Fraser, Emily Walker, Meghan Lawrence, Chara Vettou, Isabel Brooks, Adrian Copplestone (PMF Chair), Jevon George-Jones, Bella Willis, Safiya Dalrymple, Jack Eaton, and Madeline Hoare.


This memorable occasion would not have been possible but for the help of many people. First of course, the runners and their sponsors. Transport from Plymouth and back was vital and was provided FOC by Vospers. Louisa Gillett our administrator gave up her Saturday, her gazebo and her Sunday to the cause and together with Claire Copplestone, Jay Darey, Kieran Murdoch, and James Oakley manned the water station for a gruelling 3 hours. Robin Fraser and Denis Wilkins donated the great running strips designed by Tory’s father, Stephen. Thanks to Tory’s Mum for the Social Media coverage and the charity was pleased to sponsor the entry fee for each runner.

Eden Project Visual

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This years fundraising ball will be held on 19th October at The Eden Project. Fundraising for Brain Tumour Research in the South West. Find out more.

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