Having spent 13 years serving in the British Army, and receiving the Queens Commendation for Valuable Service in 1996, Paul Wilcock could be considered something of a hero himself. But at 11am on Sunday 12th March, Paul will be running the 13.1 miles of the 2017 Vitality Bath Half Marathon for another bunch of heroes much closer to home: Wiltshire Air Ambulance.
Having completed tours within the Army of Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kuwait and Kenya, Paul, 47, knows better than anyone the value of an Air Ambulance.
“I recognise the importance of being able to move casualties to the urgent care they need in the shortest time possible,” says Paul. “There are many remote locations in Wiltshire that are not easily accessible by road quickly, but the Air Ambulance overcomes this by being able to fly to those remote locations, including to the Salisbury Plain Training Area. I’d like to do what I can to raise money for the Air Ambulance as it is a great cause that relies almost entirely on donations.”
The Vitality Bath Half Marathon is one of the top three single day charity fundraising events in the UK, raising over £2.2 million at the 2016 race alone. The award-winning event supports over 130 different charities and Wiltshire Air Ambulance is a Silver Bond charity. For runners like Paul, the race offers a superb opportunity to raise funds for a cause close to the heart.
The race is also a great chance to celebrate a renewed level of fitness, as Paul is the first to admit that since leaving the Army in 1999 his fitness levels had been allowed to lapse. Now a Technical Analyst, he first ran the Bath Half back in 2011 with a corporate team raising money for military charities. He has recently taken up running again to improve his fitness and lose weight, and the results are certainly showing
Paul is now a member of the Chippenham Harriers running club and he completed the Chippenham Half Marathon in September, the Cricklade Half Marathon in October and the Great South Run in November, with several other races lined up too. Training several times a week for fitness and enjoyment, his target time for Bath in March is a respectable 1 hour 45 minutes.
The Vitality Bath Half Marathon will be the only race that Paul runs for charity next year, but he has chosen well. The event is one of the most popular road racing events in the UK, its two-lap course renowned for its brilliant atmosphere and for being fast and flat, ideal for athletes of all levels including beginners and charity runners. Each year the race attracts a strong British elite field and a large number of celebrities who are attracted by the stunning setting, fantastic crowd support and the promise of a good finishing time.
Any money that Paul raises will go towards the £3.25m yearly cost of keeping the Wiltshire Air Ambulance flying. An emergency medical service for anyone who lives, works and travels in Wiltshire, with some call-outs to neighbouring counties, the Wiltshire Air Ambulance operates 365 days a year, allowing highly skilled paramedics to deliver critical care to patients at the scene and transfer them rapidly to the best hospital. Be it a road traffic collision, cardiac arrest, horse-riding accident, agricultural incident or sporting injury, the speed of the helicopter along with the expertise of the crew can make the difference between life and death.
Paul’s fundraising page is http://www.justgiving.com/Paul-Wilcock1.
Anyone wishing to run the 2017 Vitality Bath Half Marathon for Wiltshire Air Ambulance can do so by visiting http://bathhalf.co.uk/charity/wiltshire-air-ambulance/. The charity asks for a payment of £32.50 and a pledge to raise a minimum of £200 for Wiltshire Air Ambulance.
Runners will be provided with all the resources they need, both before and during the race, in return for their efforts. Fundraising tips, a half marathon training plan and a training t-shirt in the run-up to the event will be supplemented with a running vest, goodie bag and plenty of support from the Wiltshire Air Ambulance charity team and volunteers on race day.
The 2017 Vitality Bath Half Marathon is open for entries and the organisers have confirmed that general public places will be sold out soon.
Cancer Research UK is the Lead Charity for 2017, with Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens the official Family Fun Run Charity and Dorothy House Hospice Care the official Local Charity. In 2016 alone, runners raised over £2.2 million for charity.
Go to www.bathhalf.co.uk/charities for further details about running for charity, like the Facebook page www.facebook.com/BathHalfMarathon and follow @bathhalf #bathhalf on Twitter to keep up to date with all the latest news about the Vitality Bath Half Marathon.