A Grantham schoolboy is spending his summer holidays pounding the pavements in memory of a family friend who passed away last year.
While most children like to spend their holidays watching TV, playing outside and having fun, eight-year-old Finn, of Huntingtower Road, has made it his mission to run one a mile a day for 26 days to raise money for Cancer Research, in memory of Grantham man Mark ‘Tilf’ Tilford, who lost his battle with a brain tumour in June last year.
Finn’s mum, Michelle Ablitt, is proud of her son’s commitment to the challenge.
She said: “Tilf was a good friend of mine and Finn’s dad for many years. He was diagnosed with a brain tumour not long after Finn was born, but he fought it for many years until he passed away last year.
“Finn and Tilf were good friends and he was known as ‘Uncle Tilf’. He was around a lot when Finn was younger and is his brother’s godfather. Finn was very sad when he passed away.
“Some of Tilf’s friends organised a charity football match for Macmillan nurses last year and Finn was at the match supporting and collecting money. After Tilf died, Finn always wanted to run a marathon, but I explained that he was too young so we came up with this instead.”
Finn chose to raise money for Cancer Research above other charities as he ‘would rather people just didn’t get poorly’.
Michelle added: “We talked about Macmillan and other charities, but he said he would rather people just didn’t get poorly in the first place, so although he liked the idea of raising money for the Macmillan nurses that help look after people, he wanted to help stop it in the first place, which is when he chose Cancer Research.”
Since breaking up from school two weeks ago, Finn has been getting up early every day to pound the pavements on a variety of routes.
Michelle added: “He runs a mile route from our house most days, however if he is with his grandparents for the day, he will run at the local park or along the river.
“Last week, he ran at Belton House from the Lions Gate all the way to the house. All the staff and volunteers were great. They were waiting for him and they asked people on Facebook to cheer him on as he ran past.”
It is no surprise that Finn has chosen to take up running to raise money. Finn’s uncle, Steven Ablitt, is well-known in Grantham for his running achievements, being a British schools and national cross country champion and representing Great Britain at two world cross country championships. Steve has been quick to support his nephew. Michelle added: “He went to Lincoln to run with Steve, which I think was his favourite.”
It is not just local support that Finn has received. He has had a message of support from ‘Ben 401’, a runner who completed 401 marathons in 401 days. Ben Smith, 34, began his charity attempt on September 1, 2015 and ran 284 consecutive marathons in 284 days.
He then developed an umbilical hernia in June which forced him to stop for 10 days to recover before resuming and making up the lost mileage.
Michelle added: “He has been Finn’s inspiration for all of this after meeting him earlier this year when Ben visited some schools in Grantham to complete one of his 401 marathons.”
With another 10 miles still to go, Finn has already exceeded his original £100 target to raise over £500.
Michelle added: “We are incredibly proud of him. He is not really into a lot of sports, but he did a ‘smiley mile’ at school and enjoyed that, so I think he has found his sport. He, like many kids, likes to play computer games, make videos etc, so seeing him getting up early and wanting to do something active is really lovely.”
Finn added: “I am doing this because I want to raise some money in memory of my uncle Tilf. Ben 401 has inspired me from seeing him at school. I am enjoying doing it.”
You can watch Finn complete his final mile at Grantham Stadium on Trent Road at 6pm on Monday, August 14.
You can boost his fund-raising by visiting www.justgiving.com/fundraising/michelle-ablitt