Josh

In April 2016, I took part in the London Marathon to raise money for Jewish Care’s Redbridge Jewish Community Centre. Running a Marathon is something I’d always wanted to do, but after having signed up I realised there was no way out! It’s easy to take part in something for yourself, but to do it for a charity like Jewish Care means that there are others counting on you, and I didn’t want to let anyone down.

I’ve been involved with Sinclair House and Redbridge Jewish Community Centre since I was 13 years old. I have been volunteering and working within the Youth Section running sessions for the summer and half term schemes and also for the MIKE leadership programme. I’ve helped to win grants for the centre for new computers and to renovate some of the facilities. I have also been involved with the Tri-Partnership leadership programme, involving teens in New York, Jerusalem and London, and led trips to Jerusalem. So, this is where I wanted my fundraising to go.

My training began in September, a good seven months before the main event. It was very hard at times, especially during the cold and dark winter months, but I just had to keep a focus on why I was doing it and where the money was going.

Race day came and I was ready to put my months of training into action. It was a very cold morning in the Capital but there was an excitement at the start line in Greenwich that kept everyone warm and raring to go. Running through London’s streets with residents lining the pavements for the entire 26.2 miles is something I will never forget. Having my name across my running vest and having strangers shout my name and cheer me on will stick with me forever. Passing London’s iconic landmarks gave me a chance to look out for friends and family which really gave me the motivation to keep going. Crossing Tower Bridge at the halfway point was a high point for me; the crowds were massive and incredibly loud. This was the same at the 18 mile mark at Canary Wharf, the furthest I had run in my training, but the crowds urged me on and I felt like I flew round. Running down the Embankment and past the Houses of Parliament was the pinnacle, where I saw my family standing cheering me on, as the end of my marathon journey drew to a close.

Fundraising started early on. I was given an initial target by the team at Jewish Care but I knew I wanted to go over and above this. I used Facebook and Twitter a lot during my fundraising, updating my followers on all my training runs and the injuries I sustained along the way! I even wrote to Buckingham Palace asking the Queen to sponsor me…needless to say I am still waiting for her to donate, but I did receive a lovely letter back wishing me “Good luck”!

In the end, I raised nearly £4,000 for the Youth Project at Sinclair House. I decided I wanted this to go towards something tangible. So, on the bank holiday weekend in August a group of seven teenagers and three leaders (including myself) went to Prague on a Jewish heritage trip; funded partly by my Marathon donations. The weekend enabled us to link our Jewish heritage to a city in Europe where so much has happened in the past and also allowed us to see the Jewish areas of the city as it is today. We went to Teresenstadt Concentration Camp which was extremely meaningful for me. I was able to go into the exact room where members of my family were kept during the war.

There were also fun sides to the weekend, and to see the group have such a meaningful experience was really fantastic. Furthermore knowing I helped to fund this trip really did mean the world to me. It also made me appreciate the good work of the Youth Section at RJCC even more than I did before.

I urge everyone reading this to get up and challenge themselves by taking on something like this. The sense of achievement at the end makes it all worth it. So stop thinking about it, just sign up and do it – you won’t regret it!