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Sittingbourne dad Richard Mills runs his own 'London Marathon' up and down the Sheppey Way for Allergy UK

Dad-of-four Richard 'Richie' Mills had been planning to run the London Marathon to celebrate his 40th birthday and raise money for Allergy UK.

But when the coronavirus lockdown postponed the run, he turned his attention to nearer his home in Iwade, Sittingbourne.

Richard 'Richie' Mills celebrating his 40th birthday by running a marathon along the Sheppey Way at Iwade in aid of Allergy UK
Richard 'Richie' Mills celebrating his 40th birthday by running a marathon along the Sheppey Way at Iwade in aid of Allergy UK

On Sunday he pounded the length of the Sheppey Way 40 times, the equivalent of 26.2 miles (42km), in 3hrs 25min and chalked up a personal best.

He said: "To celebrate turning 40 on April 3 I set myself the challenge of completing 40 running events in 2020.

"My chosen charity is Allergy UK which has helped support myself and my family when we discovered my son Kodie, who was four at the time, had a nut allergy following an anaphylactic shock at a family party last year."

Richard, who manages the Tesco store at Gravesend, is also planning a 40-mile solo run in December and in September, Allergy Awareness month, he will be running across Kent over five days, visiting 40 Tesco stores along the 100-mile journey. He said: "As a key worker, I find running is my therapy from a very busy retail world."

This year would have been the 40th London Marathon but since it was postponed Richard, as the only runner in the event for Allergy UK, decided he had to continue fundraising. He has set himself a target of £4,000.

Richard 'Richie' Mills celebrating his 40th birthday by running a marathon along the Sheppey Way at Iwade in aid of Allergy UK
Richard 'Richie' Mills celebrating his 40th birthday by running a marathon along the Sheppey Way at Iwade in aid of Allergy UK

He said: "Charities are all struggling so I created my own socially-distanced event of running up and down the Sheppey Way, near where, I live 40 times to cover the marathon distance."

It was his 10th event of the year as a solo runner.

He said: "I've managed to raise more than £1,000 so far but what was great, was the number of others who also did their own 2.6km challenge, too. A few of Kodie's school friends walked or ran 2.6km to raise money for his charity."

Richard admitted: "What began as a year-long project has met big obstacles with the current pandemic. But I am determined to continue with virtual runs and, hopefully, still line-up for the 40th Great North Run and 40th London Marathon in the autumn."

Kodie's attack happened at his grandmother's 60th birthday party last May when he ate a peanut from a bowl. At that time, no one knew he had an allergy.

Richard 'Richie' Mills' support team, from the left, Dillon, Connor, Kodie, wife Liz and Callum. Richard is celebrating his 40th birthday by running a marathon along the Sheppey Way at Iwade in aid of Allergy UK for five-year-old Kodie
Richard 'Richie' Mills' support team, from the left, Dillon, Connor, Kodie, wife Liz and Callum. Richard is celebrating his 40th birthday by running a marathon along the Sheppey Way at Iwade in aid of Allergy UK for five-year-old Kodie

Richard recalled: "He became upset with itching swollen eyes and in pain. We didn’t know what was happening and initially thought it was hay fever.

"The symptoms became worse and were not helped by Kodie becoming more hysterical. We took him straight to hospital where the doctor told us he was having an anaphylactic reaction.

"He was tested and confirmed as being allergic to peanuts and mixed nuts, plus dogs and cats. Since then, his life has become a world of checking food labels, taking his own food to parties and being unable to eat his favourite treats.

"We don’t even visit a family relative as often as before because they have a dog. The anxiety we face as parents every day knowing one bite of the wrong food could kill Kodie makes this a very important charity for us.

"As his safety net, we are constantly checking food labels. But now he goes to school and is in the care of other adults it is even more important to raise awareness of the dangers to everyone."

To support him and Allergy UK visit www.virginmoneygiving.com and search forRichie Mills running 40 races for Allergy UK in 2020.

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