A Hackney dad is taking on his first marathon, after a chance meeting in his local park inspired him to run for a disabled children’s charity.
Office worker Adrian Peacock, 53, will be running the London Marathon on April 22nd for HemiHelp, a charity that helps parents with children suffering from hemiplegia.
The father-of-two chanced upon HemiHelp at a park fun-run last year, and was moved on the spot to lend a hand.
Mr Peacock said: “It was incredibly moving to meet the children and their young parents and see what a wonderful contribution this small charity makes to the lives and hopes of these worried families. I do have a disabled child of my own (Romilly, aged 8), who was born blind.
“I could see at once that most of the resources of this wonderful charity go directly to helping their families and their children. I resolved there and then to do what I could.
“I have never run a marathon before – at 53 it is a daunting task, but if the children with hemiplegia can triumph over their condition then the least I can do for them is try.”
Congenital hemiplegia is a mini-stroke that affects unborn babies in the womb or shortly after birth, affecting one side of the body. It is a relatively common condition, affecting 1 child in 1,000.
Children with hemiplegia will experience stiffness and lack of control in their affected side; approximately half of those affected can have additional diagnoses, such as epilepsy, visual impairment or speech difficulties.
Mr Peacock’s run comes against a backdrop of Hackney residents’ concern over planned 5% cuts to high needs funding for Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND).
Hackney Council have said the cuts are needed to address a £6million hole in local finances resulting from tightening budgets directed by central government.
The announcement that children’s SEND provision would feel the bite of the cuts resulted in a rally outside Hackney Town Hall on February 21st, with children, residents and campaigners from the National Union of Teachers and the Women’s Equality Party in attendance.
After consulting with parents and teachers, Hackney Deputy Mayor Antoinette Bramble announced a new SEND Task and Finish group to address the funding crisis; she did however restate the council’s plans to go ahead with the 5% cuts in April. Hackney parents and carers continue to oppose the cuts.
Speaking to Sky News last week representing the Hackney Campaign Against SEND Cuts, Mr Peacock complained of the “contradictory statements” given to parents by Hackney Council as to the reason for the cuts to SEND.
Mr Peacock said, “What was the reason? Was it central government cuts, was it an overspend by their former learning directorate – there were just all sorts of different stories given to us, and I’m afraid it engendered a bit of distrust amongst a lot of us.
“The way a society treats its disabled children is an assessment of the morality of that society. It’s really bedrock stuff, so I’m appealing to all the politicians – for the basic morality of your country, you really, really need to get this right.”
Donations can be made to Adrian Peacock’s London Marathon run here on the Virgin Moneygiving site