Banbury woman raises nearly £500 for a children's charity in the Oxford Half Marathon

Banbury woman Anna Whiting raised almost £500 for the Rainbow Trust Children's Charity after running the Oxford Half Marathon in memory of her friend's baby girl.

Monday, 25th October 2021, 2:15 pm
Updated Monday, 25th October 2021, 2:16 pm
Anna Whiting whose own experience of grief prompted her to run a half marathon to raise money for support for parents with a seriously ill child

Ms Whiting, 38, a publisher for Cambridge University Press and Assessment, was inspired to run for Rainbow Trust after hearing about how the charity had supported her friend from Southampton, Mike Langfeld, and his family, after his daughter Annie was born with a life-threatening condition.

Baby Annie was born in October 2018 at 38 weeks, weighing just 4Ibs. Over the next few weeks it was confirmed that she had a rare mitochondrial syndrome called Pearson’s and her parents,  Mike and Becky were given the devastating news that there was only a 50 per cent chance that their daughter would reach the age of two.

To help them with the emotional and practical strains of having a seriously ill child, the family were referred to Rainbow Trust and were paired with their Family Support Worker Liz.

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Rainbow Trust enables families who have a child with a life-threatening illness to make the most of their time together pairing each family with an expert Family Support Worker who helps them at home, in hospital and in the community, for as long as it is needed.

Annie sadly died a week after her second birthday in October 2020.

Mrs Whiting said: "My husband, Mark, met Mike at university and they have been good friends ever since. Mike and Becky became parents for the first time around the same time as us, with the birth of their son Zach and our daughter, Rosie, in 2015. This brought us closer together as we all faced parenthood for the first time.

“When Annie was born in 2018 it was a huge shock to hear how unwell she was. We know how important it was for Mike, Becky and five-year-old Zach to have the support of their Family Support Worker, Liz, and their Rainbow Trust volunteer, Annabel. Annie spent a third of her short life in hospital which was very difficult for the family. Extended hospital stays were very isolating and lonely and I know both Mike and Becky felt Liz and Annabel were there for them and understood what they were going through.

“The support provided by Rainbow Trust has been equally important for Annie’s big brother Zach. With Becky and Mike needing to spend so much time in hospital with Annie and juggling all their other commitments, Liz and Annabel were able to provide some normality for Zach as well as fun trips to the park and other outings.”

Support for families with a very ill child is deeply personal to Anna after her own childhood experience.

She said: "When I was two years old, my baby brother suffered a brain haemorrhage due to complications of premature labour. He never fully recovered and died just after his second birthday. I wish my family had been able to benefit from the help provided to the Langfelds by Rainbow Trust and I decided it was another good reason to support the charity, to help it continue this invaluable work for other families.

“Liz and Annabel continue to visit the Langfelds regularly and provide support for the grieving family. From my own experience, when in the midst of grief, it is difficult to deal with the enormity of what has happened. Continued support is vital for that common thread - as their grief changes and matures, having someone who truly understands what you have been through and who are close to the memory of Annie is going to be hugely important.”

A self-confessed un-sporty person and after declaring 'never again' after running the London marathon in 2012, Mrs Whiting did not find training for the Oxford Half Marathon easy. This is the first time Anna has run in this event and was delighted to have finished the race in two hours 56 minutes. She hopes to hit her fundraising target of £500 as her employer, Cambridge University Press and Assessment, has said it will match fund any donations made by its employees.

Rainbow Trust supports families who have a child with a life-threatening or terminal illness. When a child has a serious illness, family life is turned upside down and time becomes more precious than ever. Rainbow Trust pairs each family with an expert Family Support Worker who enables them to make the most of time together, giving them practical and emotional support, whenever they need it, for as long as is needed. The COVID-19 pandemic has piled further unimaginable pressure onto these parents and children, and the charity’s Family Support Workers continue to provide a lifeline to them.

To support Anna and Rainbow Trust please visit her justgiving page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Anna-Whiting1. To find out more about Rainbow Trust visit rainbowtrust.org.uk