Running for your life

Baroness Deech

A terrible tragedy occurred when a lovely young woman collapsed and died towards the end of the London Marathon last weekend.  She had entered in order to raise funds for the Samaritans.  In consequence, about £700,000 has been donated in her memory by members of the public to this good cause.  This is a great benefit to the Samaritans (and, one hopes, a small consolation to her parents), but obviously we would all rather have this young woman alive than any amount of money. A good friend of mine died many years ago on a sponsored cycle ride for a children’s charity.  He was a most distinguished paediatrician and his loss left a gap in the medical profession and of course in his family that could never be filled.

So I remain puzzled as to why those who wish to raise money for charity do so by undertaking completely pointless activities, such as running, swimming or trekking long distances overseas.  I cannot see why we should give money to charity so that they can do something they want to do anyway, which is of no benefit to anyone else.  I prefer to donate direct to the charity, if asked by a friend, and not link my donation to the activity they are undertaking, especially if it is risky to health. I have sometimes suggested that they might prefer to do something useful, like chores for elderly neighbours, if they want sponsorship, (remember bob a job?) but they prefer doing what they enjoy. 

Contrast with that the current nomination list for the annual Dods Parliamentary Charity Champion Award –  The nominees have actually undertaken an activity for their favoured charity.  The runners and the activists equally have hearts of gold and the best intentions, but how much more sensible to act to make a difference to your chosen charity or your community.

9 comments for “Running for your life

  1. Gareth Howell
    26/04/2012 at 8:47 am

    I cannot see why we should give money to charity…

    I thought for a moment that the Baroness was going to say something I agree with but a little more came afterwards….

    Baroness Deech may not be aware that there is a double system for such people who seek sponsorship. They pay their own way and their own expenses, and then get what they can for a charity,after having done so.

    I still cannot understand the point of such charity fund raising. A noble lord, who has been mentioned here, is/was walking for the Olympic truce, whether for charity or not, but he will certainly have paid his own way first, an eight month journey, and not got it out of the charitable coffer.

    The Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Order of St John, raises charitable funds for its Hospital foundations worldwide, but that does not prevent it from making every effort to make a profit on its hospital work.

    I generally take charity to be a non-material
    activity, ie an attitude of mind and prayer towards one’s fellow beings, one that has nothing whatsoever to do with Money!

    What, pray, what is to prevent the participants in a sponsored exercise from considering themselves as a de facto charity? That is almost as bad as that most common of police constable crimes of petty larceny!

  2. 26/04/2012 at 10:37 am

    I’m sorry to have a say it, and call me a real cynic, but would so much money have been donated if it had been a male runner who had died? I can’t help but find the media coverage rather sexist.

    That aside, I used to think the same as Baroness Deech about sponsored charity events, and to some extent I still do. However, the fact is many people simply don’t ordinarily give to charity, and so taking part in a sponsored event is one way to encourage them.

    I must admit, in recent years I have taken to sponsoring people I know, often quite generously, as not only does it help me to decide which charity to donate to (as there are so many good causes out there) but it also finds me favour with the person I’m sponsoring!

  3. Croft
    26/04/2012 at 10:55 am

    Amusingly counter the default political worship of charity. I have some sympathy with your argument. However at least as far as the runner is concerned the chances of dying are so low that I’m not sure we can reasonable argue against it. Particularly as the health benefits of training for such events for the majority outweigh the tiny risks. When you see people taking part in climbing Everest or crossing oceans where they pose a great risk to themselves, to others or expense for a complicated rescue I think your argument unanswerable.

  4. Twm O'r Nant
    26/04/2012 at 5:29 pm

    Strange thing is that the Charity for whom she ran was the Samaritans the suicide charity, or was that chosen afterwards?

    Are we to look forward to a spate of deaths at Marathons in such a vein, dying for a worthy cause?

    It may be rather more than she would have earned in life time earnings.

    It seems rather like the “generosity” of the Organ donors on wheels,a euphemism for motor cyclists, promoted by professional carers in developed countries, and who describe their Mbike accident victims thus,a very false generosity indeed.

  5. MilesJSD
    27/04/2012 at 9:34 am

    If Britain had followed its own western world-leading Human Movement experts after they began publishing
    in 1937 (Mabel Todd in USA)
    and 1954 (“Effort” by Laban & Lawrence, England)
    instead of lumbering and slumbering along strategy-less, eventually having to recognise de-facto foreign stop-gaps such as Tai Chi, Acupuncture, and US Gymnasiums, to ‘remedy’ our aggressive western Workplace Stressors and general population unfitnesses,
    then Britain would now be both fit-&-healthy and more sustainworthy.

    Relevance to this topic ?
    A marathon is very repetitive,
    sustainedly pounding the ground, even in a trance-state.
    Maybe other lovely people have been, and countless millions of not-so-lovely-people, still are unawarely ‘burying’ an injury or weakness, or missing-out on all-round and correctly layered holistic fitness-building.

    Also being ignored:
    “Awareness Through Movement” (Feldenkrais)
    “Inner Focus Outer Strength” (Franklin)
    “The New Rules of Posture” (Bond)
    which are each superior and more fundamentally and all-round mind-body-spirit balancing, and fitnessing, than are Tai Chi, Acupuncture, Repetitive-Gymnastics, Marathons, and SWAT,SAS & Olympic “Games”.

    As for the “Donation to Charity” issue therein, the Needs of any Disadvantaged Individual or Class in Britain are supposed to be met by our Government out of our Taxes
    are they not ?

  6. maude elwes
    27/04/2012 at 12:09 pm

    Charity and all the arms of it are simply another rich man’s con of the public purse with the sanction of government.

    In the main, they are a tax dodge and if you listen to those who try to explain their way around the dodge, they simply add to the noose they are forming for themselves, via public opinion. It has always been known that fund raising and charitable donations was a way to avoid tax whilst making yourself powerful. I work for me charities don’t I. Goes the shrill sound of the pretentious crowd.

    Look at the Macartney second wife and her involvement with it all. That was another tummy tickler, he getting socked for £40,000 a year for her ‘chari-ies.’ This charity stunt was said to be how she met the husband who was going to fork out for it on her behalf. Keeping her in the midst of the invitation rounds.

    Follow the money. How much of it reaches the service user?

    Have you taken a look inside those charity shops lately? The price tag is often higher than Peter Jones for the same or better item, and where does that cash go? In the pocket of those who are working for ‘charity.’ That’s who. They add ten or twenty percent to the item and pocket the excess. That’s how.

    And the further up the ladder of admin you get, the salary grows to breathtaking heights. Of course they are all in it to raise cash for the poor and needy. On our behalf of course.

  7. Gareth Howell
    09/05/2012 at 8:59 am

    I’ve never enjoyed the thought of wearing another person’s clothes, or paying money to people who are as cheap as to think that they can get away with such fake and basically evil

    The Africans who do receive second hand clothes from Europe have opinions about them too, but I can’t quite remember what.

    A charity merely has to be registered, which anybody may do, with any name.

    Clothes recycling has been added to the local binning system in this area, which goes to show that there is some money in it, if only to provide the council with an extra agency income.

  8. Baroness Deech
    Baroness Deech
    14/07/2012 at 9:28 am

    A sad PS. Two British climbers have lost their lives in an avalanche in the French Alps. They were reportedly climbing in order to raise money for a hospice. Very little had been raised before they set out. Two families are left without fathers. The expedition must have been enormously expensive. This is the wrong way to raise money for good causes.

  9. Lord Blagger
    14/07/2012 at 7:44 pm

    At least they are trying to raise money rather than spending other people’s money on themselves, racking up massive debts in the process.

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