On Sunday the 23rd July, Team Personal Best visited the annual Myra Garrett 10k and 3k Fun Run, organised by Bexley AC. Double Para-Olympian gold medallist, Libby Clegg and Deputy Mayor of Bexley, Cllr John Wilkinson were on hand to start the races and at the finish, to hand out the individual awards and medals to all participants.
This year the event was supporting Bexley Mencap and over 35 members of the organisation and their friends and family, took part in the Fun Run, with Matt Lett, taking part in the 10k. In total, there were 300 runners for the main 10k race and nearly 200 people took part in the 3k Fun Run, including many families with young children.
Matt was running to raise funds for Bexley Mencap to help people with learning disabilities enjoy better health and well-being. People with learning disabilities often experience barriers to accessing health and leisure services and are more likely enjoy worse health than the general population. Bexley Mencap supports people with learning disabilities and their families by running social and leisure clubs and promoting better health education, as well as supporting people to make healthy lifestyle choices, attend appointments and live more independently.
Three years ago, Matt Lett, who has learning and speech disabilities, joined a pilot fitness group organised by Bexley Mencap, in association with Run England. Before then Matt had never run regularly at all. Three years later, the group’s still going strong, with membership in double figures.
Matt’s now a regular Bexley parkrunner, running 5k around Danson Park on a Saturday morning. He also helps with the volunteering on a Saturday morning and set himself the challenge of ‘doubling the distance’ and running the Myra Garrett 10k race. Matt says that running has helped increase his confidence and social skills and become more active in the rest of his life. Matt may not be the fastest of runners, but he keeps going and once he sets out to run he never stops until the finish line.
Matt’s mentor, Nick Marsden, is a volunteer with Bexley Mencap and also a member of Bexley AC and helps run the weekly fitness group. Bexley AC, as well as kindly agreeing to support Bexley Mencap by donating a percentage of the entry fees received for both races, also covered the cost of Nick’s Leadership in Running Fitness qualification. It’s a great example of a local athletics and running club working with a special needs voluntary group, to promote healthy lifestyles and more active health and well-being, for all sections of the community.
Nick says ‘It’s been a real privilege to be Matt’s mentor. Matt now goes out running on his own, when I can’t make it, and trained hard for the 10k run, in all weathers. I always ask if he wants to slow down or stop for a break, but he always shakes his head and says ‘No’. He’s really determined and always has a big smile on his face when people encourage him along the way.’
If you would like to sponsor Matt or donate money to Bexley Mencap, you can do so by going to www.bexleymencap.org.uk
For more information about Bexley Athletic Club who sponsored Bexley Mencap, contact: www.bexleyac.org.uk