Avid runner and local fundraiser Andrew Crossland has challenged himself with at least a 5km run each day for 2021, raising money for the Bassetlaw Food Bank and Shireoaks based charity the National Kidney Federation.

Andrew explains his reasons for the fundraising and why both of the charities are close to his heart:

"Over the past year as a Trustee, I've seen the amazing work that Bassetlaw Food Bank do in supporting local families in crisis. We see so many people struggling for a number of reasons and we help pick them up and get their lives going again.

Over two years ago, my dad passed away at 60 from kidney cancer. It was a horrible diagnosis and it highlighted to me how hard kidney cancer is to diagnose and treat. The National Kidney Federation (NKF) are a fantastic local charity supporting kidney issues. I'd love to help support both charities amazing work.

My personal fundraising challenge began on the 1st January 2021 and will finish on 31st December 2021. My other target whilst running this challenge, is to reach the target distance of 2021km in the year of 2021 which I am determined to achieve as I’ve ran slightly more than 5km a day.

My dad, known to most as Fred, was my best friend and closest confidant. He was a real leader and enabler. He was brought up on one of the mining estates in Retford and claimed to be a rogue at school. He managed (much to his parent’s delight and shock) to get into the grammar school where he got into more trouble.

He then got into university and was the first in the family to do so. I think this is when his eyes really opened, and his degree (which majored in psychology) enabled him to go forward with his career. He knew that getting the best out of people was the best way to get things done. Dad did that in the railway where he worked all his life.

He won Best Kept Train Station as a graduate and ended up as Director of one of the main freight companies in the UK. He did a few special things like winning the contract for the Royal Train and Orient Express. He also worked for the channel tunnel and got the first high speed freight train into the UK.

Dad retired early at 59 years old, but a very sudden diagnosis of kidney cancer came. He had just finished walking 10,000 steps every day for a year and the weight loss was attributed to that. The doctor missed the signs, diagnosed pneumonia and wouldn't do any tests. Had he done so he might well have found the cancer before it was too late.

My dad was given a very short time to live, but actually lived 6 months with his diagnosis. He never complained or moaned and treated the cancer as part of life. Some of the closest and best times with my dad were in some ways after his diagnosis, and there is nothing closer to being with your dad than wheeling him in his chair to the petrol station for an ice cream within days of his death. He took a selfie of himself in the car park and sent it to his friend joking that I'd left him outside!

My dad was amazing; he would not want anyone to suffer what he did. Fundraising for the NKF and Bassetlaw Food Bank is exactly what he would have wanted and is something that I am sure is making him proud.

He was always a man for social justice and his approach was always that we are all the same; "Look into your mind’s eye, see what you can see... there's hundreds of people like you and me."

The quote is from a Hawkwind lyric that we played at his funeral and was a real mantra he instilled in me.

The last 10 months I've been working with Bassetlaw Food Bank and seen how the charity does miracles supporting hundreds of families recover from sudden hardship. These are people like you or I, or people that have just fallen on hard times. The food bank is keeping people alive in Bassetlaw and I'm really keen that the fundraising helps them continue to help those in need.”

Speaking about his running experience Andrew continued; “I’ve run the London Marathon twice and a few other half marathons. I love running but this is the hardest thing that I’ve ever done as it needs so much dedication! However, the experience of running 5k every day has been amazing for my own health, particularly my mental health.

The challenge has required me to find time to run every day be that in the sun, rain and yes, even the snow and ice! I’ve also turned vegetarian and managed my diet to enable me to have the most energy to run. All in all, I’ve loved every run and I am getting some variety by running with friends or taking on different routes, it has been great!"

Locally based the Bassetlaw Food Bank started in 2012 as groups in the community and agencies came together to look at rising food insecurity within Bassetlaw. It was becoming evident that more people had to rely on food banks to prevent hunger.

Sadly, hundreds of people across Bassetlaw are finding it impossible to make ends meet. Many suffer in silence, too embarrassed to speak to anyone, instead skipping meals as a result. In 2021 they supported over 5,141 individuals with emergency food parcels. This is a fraction of those in need.

There is no single reason why people find themselves experiencing food insecurity. Redundancy, illness, benefit delays, debt, zero-hours contracts, welfare reform and domestic violence are just some of the reasons why people, many of whom are families with children, are referred to them. More households are turning to food banks, including many who have never needed to before.

Bassetlaw Food Bank is powered by an amazing team of volunteers, who do everything from collecting and sorting donations, to packing and delivering food parcels. Without them, they wouldn’t be able to function.

The charity does not receive any formal funding. They rely on donations of stock to fill the parcels, and money to cover the expenses. They are a charity for the community, backed by the community! The challenge that Andrew has set himself is immense but the money he raises will make a big difference.

The National Kidney Federation (NKF) campaigns for improvements to renal provision and treatment to support the estimated 3 million people in the UK who have kidney disease. NKF have their own national patient support services including a free helpline and peer support service for patients, carers and healthcare professionals, which takes around 200 calls a week. NKF have their own website which has rapidly become the hub of the renal community, viewed by more than 1,000,000 patients, carers, renal professionals, doctors and nurses nationwide every year.

The NKF raises money directly from the public and is also supported in its work by the renal industries surrounding and supporting care of kidney disease. The charity exists solely because of the generosity of those sponsors and supporters, however money is always tight, and much more could be done with greater sponsorship.

If you would like to support Andrew with his running challenge in support of Bassetlaw Food Bank and the National Kidney Federation visit his JustGiving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/andrew-crossland2