A Manchester-based Childline counsellor and mum of two has smashed her fundraising target ahead of an ultra-trail challenge she is running in aid of the NSPCC.
Gemma Larkin, who has been a counsellor for the NSPCC-run Childline service for 16 years, will take on the Lakeland 50 this weekend, running 50 miles up and down peaks of the Lake District in one day.
In her time at Childline, Gemma has spoken to thousands of young people, offering vital support when they need it most, and after seeing the importance of the service first-hand, she felt inspired to take on the challenge and raise funds for the NSPCC.
“Childline continued to be there for young people throughout lockdown,” said Gemma, 42.
“I was both privileged and heartbroken to continue working through and see the impact of the pandemic on our young people.
“Risk increased significantly, and to say that I was regularly supporting children to stay safe and find resilience in the face of adversity and suicidal thoughts is an understatement.
“Sadly, this isn’t letting up.
“The ripple-effect from Covid-19 is going to be far reaching and I am still regularly speaking to multiple children per shift who are struggling to find a reason to live.”
Gemma, who is originally from Liverpool and now lives in Manchester, has already raised more than £800 on her JustGiving page – far more than the £200 she had originally hoped to raise.
She said anyone who donates will “enable us to answer more of those calls and provide invaluable support to the young people who need it most”.
The Lakeland 50 starts from the northern end of Ullswater, within the Dalemain Estate, before following the eastern shoreline towards Howtown.
The challenge is so difficult that nearly half of those taking part fail to complete it.
Gemma has already put in many hours of practice, with her training runs already clocking up an impressive 421 miles.
“That’s the same as running to London and back – and a bit more!” said Gemma.
To support Gemma, go to her Just Giving page. To find out how you can support the NSPCC and Childline through fundraising, challenges, volunteering or sharing the charity’s messages, go to nspcc.org.uk.