Retired pals tackle 10k to bring ShowerBox homeless project to Birmingham

WomensRunning April

They may have celebrated 192 birthdays between them but that’s not stopped three retired friends from signing up for the Great Birmingham Run 10K on Sunday, May 1.

Bruce Loudon, Don Russell and Ewen Kinnear hope taking part in the popular 10K – the first time The Great Birmingham Run half marathon and 10K will take place on the same day – will boost their plans to bring a life-changing homeless project to the city.

The trio, who met playing walking football, are working with a charity called ShowerBox, which provides mobile shower facilities to people living on the streets.

Homeless people have died from preventable diseases simply because they could not keep clean, according to ShowerBox founder Sarah Lamptey. 

And 41% have reported long-term physical health problems some of which, like skin infections, could be prevented with access to regular showers.

Being able to shower can also help people’s mental health, boost confidence and provide motivation to change their lives.

ShowerBox is based in London but 63-year-old Bruce, Don, aged 67 and Ewen, aged 62, are bringing the pioneering charity project to Birmingham after realising there was a need.

They are converting a Luton van into a mobile shower room with the help of local tradesmen who’ve volunteered their time and funding from ShowerBox.

The friends hope the facility will be up and running by mid-May and are in discussions with Birmingham Cathedral about using its grounds.

Bruce, who worked for Cadbury for almost 40 years before retiring, says: “We’ve spoken to charities who work with the homeless in the city and it’s clear there’s a need for these facilities.

“As well as providing a safe and private space for people to get clean we also hope to supply clean underwear and socks and toiletries, have a friendly chat and show that people care.  

“We plan to point people to other charities who can help in other ways too.”

To help their project reach the finishing line in style the friends hope to raise funds and awareness by running the Great Birmingham Run 10k together on Sunday, May 1.

Ewen, who worked in transport and logistics before retiring and lives in Selly Park, has previously run a marathon while Don, a retired social worker from Hollywood, has completed a half-marathon.

But it’s the first time Bruce, from Selly Oak, has taken part in a long-distance run.

“Maybe we’re all doing something a bit stupid as we’re all over 60 and between us have 192 years,” he laughs.

“But the 10K is such a great opportunity for us to raise awareness of ShowerBox and hopefully some funds. We’re also looking for volunteers.

“Although I’ve not done a run like this before I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been told there’s a great atmosphere and people support you as you go round.

“Hopefully we’ll have a laugh and it will help us build even more of a bond between us as well as raise awareness of a great cause.”

So how are they preparing?

“We already keep fit together through walking football and we’ve been doing the Cannon Hill Park Run,” Bruce explains.

“We plan to start the 10k together and finish together even if someone needs to take a breather. That’s what teamwork’s about isn’t it?”

The half marathon and 10K – which take place on the same day for the first time this year – are open to runners of all ages and abilities, many of whom are raising funds for causes close to their heart, or as a fitness goal.

The 10K route starts in the city centre and takes runners past Bullring and out along Pershore Road to Cannon Hill Park which marks the half way point – runners then loop round world-famous Edgbaston Cricket Ground and past Calthorpe Park, before a final section through Digbeth before the grandstand city centre finish.

The half marathon route follows the 10k route out along Pershore Road, turning right through Selly Park before heading out towards Bournville which marks the half way point – then joins the 10k route at Cannon Hill Park, passing Edgbaston, Calthorpe Park on the homestretch into the city centre for the grandstand finish.

The Great Birmingham Run 10K and half marathon take place on Sunday, May 1, for more information or to enter click here.

To donate to ShowerBox visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/showerbox