Cheering on Team Jessica in the Great South Run

Last weekend, several of Jessica’s uncles and her cousins ran in the Great South Run to raise money for Little Hearts Matter in memory of Jessica. My brother Adrian and my sister’s ex-partner Pete had both run before but for my other brother Peter and my nephews Jamie and Lee, it was their first time taking part. Hubby was away, but Sophie, Thomas and I were there to cheer them all on.

 

top - Jessica's photo on the Little Hearts Matter T-shirt; bottom - Team Jessica with me, Sophie and Thomas - "Cheering on Team Jessica in the Great South Run"

 

I knew parking might be a challenge, so I decided to leave my car at my mum’s house and take the train down to Portsmouth Harbour. Mum, my sister Maxine and my brother-in-law Mick came with us on the train. It was Thomas’s first train ride – not that he took much notice as he was fast asleep in the sling the whole time! Sophie loved being on the train though – it was much more fun for her travelling this way than being in the car!

 

Sophie looking out of the window on the train

 

Seeing HMS Warrior outside the train station when we arrived brought back memories of school trips for me. It’s been a long time since I last took a train to Portsmouth Harbour.

 

My mum, Sophie and Auntie Maxine standing in front of HMS Warrior

 

We made our way through Old Portsmouth, past all the runners going in the opposite direction, and keeping a look out for Team Jessica. The first member of our team to go past was a bit of a surprise as we spotted my nephew Wayne wearing a black wig. It turned out that he’d taken his partner Rachael’s place in the Great South Run at the last minute.

 

The rest of Team Jessica in their blue Little Hearts Matter T-shirts with a photo of Jessica on the front weren’t too far behind. I got quite emotional seeing them all go past and cheering them on.

 

Uncle Pete running past us in his Little Hearts Matter T-shirt

 

Sophie enjoyed seeing all the runners in novelty costumes. We spotted Wally from Where’s Wally, Superman, Wonder Woman, Father Christmas and two runners inside a model of HMS Victory.

 

Two runners running whilst wearing a model of HMS Victory

 

As we reached Southsea seafront, Sophie noticed that one member of our group had disappeared.

 

“Where’s our man?” she asked.

“Do you mean Uncle Mick?”

“Yes, that’s the one.”

 

It did make us giggle to hear Uncle Mick referred to as “our man.” He rejoined us a few minutes later.

 

Sophie has been keen to visit the beach. She and Auntie Maxine sat on the shingle and enjoyed the warm sunshine. It felt more like early September rather than mid October. Sophie found a couple of shells on the beach to take home with her. I couldn’t help remembering our last day at the beach – a brief moment visiting the beach at Shanklin on our last holiday with Jessica. I could see the Isle of Wight across the Solent. It made me feel sad thinking about that very last holiday.

 

Auntie Maxine and Sophie walking along the beach

 

Sophie was enjoying herself though even if I was finding the memories painful. It was the perfect opportunity for her to wear her new sunglasses that Jessica’s optician had given her. It was also a good place to stop and have our picnic lunch.

 

Sophie in her sunglasses sitting with Auntie Maxine on the beach

 

Me, Maxine and Sophie looking through a seaside peephole board with fish and mermaids

 

After we’d had lunch, we continued along the seafront towards the finish line ready to catch Team Jessica at the end of the race. Wayne was the first to finish coming in at 1 hour and 40 minutes. Uncle Peter was next, followed by Uncle Pete, Lee, Uncle Adrian and Jamie.

 

Uncle Adrian and Jamie at the end of the Great South Run

 

They all did so well and I was so proud of them all for taking part in memory of my beautiful girl. It meant so much to me to have them do something like this for her.

 

Lee. Uncle Adrian, Uncle Peter, Wayne, Jamie and Uncle Pete with me, Sophie and Thomas

 

Thomas also got to meet some of his aunties, uncles and cousins for the first time. He was quite happy being passed around for cuddles.

 

Thomas having a cuddle with his Auntie Julie

 

We stopped off at a nearby pub afterwards for some well-deserved celebratory drinks. Uncle Adrian gave Sophie his medal to keep. We will put it in Jessica’s memory box.

 

Uncle Adrian and Sophie holding Uncle Adrian's medal

 

We made our way back to the station via the amusement arcades and the fairground. Sophie wanted to have a ride in the Peppa Pig bus outside. Uncle Adrian couldn’t resist joining in too!

 

Sophie and Uncle Adrian in the Peppa Pig bus

 

Sophie walking through the fairground eating candyfloss

 

The walk back to the station took us past Gunwharf Quays and the Spinnaker Tower. We said goodbye to Uncle Adrian, Auntie Julie and their friends Sue and John at the Gosport ferry terminal.

 

Uncle Adrian having a cuddle with Thomas

 

It was a lot of walking for little legs. Sophie was quite tired by the time we were back on the train. I was so proud of how well she coped with all the walking though. We walked 7 miles that day according to my phone. Other than a brief stint in her cousin’s buggy and a few minutes on Uncle Mick’s back, Sophie walked the whole time. She’s a good walker generally but I was impressed that she managed so much of it without complaining.

 

Auntie Maxine and Sophie walking towards the Spinnaker Tower

 

Team Jessica also did us proud too. I think they’ve raised a good amount for Little Hearts Matter. The JustGiving page has hit its target and there are also a lot of offline donations. Thank you to all my family who ran in memory of Jessica and to everyone who has supported them too.

 

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24 thoughts on “Cheering on Team Jessica in the Great South Run

  1. What a wonderful thing for them all to do for Jessica, and how lovely for you to go along and experience it with them. It sounds like Sophie had a fantastic day, but I can imagine it must have been tough for you being back on a beach for the first time and seeing the Isle of Wight in the distance. x

    1. It was quite a bittersweet day for me but I was so proud of them all and Sophie had a lovely day out x

  2. What a great activity and made all the more special knowing you had family running for Jessica. they all dis so well, just 6 miles killed me this afternoon and probably took nearly as long as it took your family to run this main event. It looks like Sophie had the best time and even a medal donated to show for her support. #CountryKids

    1. She had a wonderful day out. It was such a special day and so nice to remember Jessica in this way.

  3. What a brilliant tribute to Jessica and a great way to support you and the family in your grief whilst fundraising. Go team Jessica!! Sophie did brilliantly too, walking 7 miles. Must have been the shell-collecting nature boost that kept her going. I bet she slept like a log! What a great family you have #CountryKids

  4. It certainly is fantastic that the family came together to raise awarenes and money for the cause as well as getting to see the new very much loved family member. #CountryKids

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