A selfless schoolboy is taking on the Junior Great North Run to create a toilet block that is twinned with one in his hometown in a bid to improve hygiene in countries around the world.
Ronan McGowan, nine, from Hexham, Northumberland, was inspired to raise money to improve toilet facilities in other communities after learning about how many people in the world do not have access to clean facilities.
Ronan joined in fundraising with his local Junior Church to build two toilets in Cambodia that would then be “twinned” with two toilets in Hexham Abbey.
It was there he was told about the Toilet Twinning charity, which raises money for facilities to be built in impoverished countries before a plaque is sent to be displayed in the toilets back in the UK to encourage others to donate.
After Ronan was so upset hearing about the hardship of the children in other countries, he embarked on a mission to raise money for a full block of toilets to be built.
He decided to take on the Junior Great North Run with his 12-year-old brother Calum, to raise enough money to twin an entire block with Hexham Abbey and raise awareness about improving the lives of others.
Ronan said: “I learned about how many children have nowhere safe or hygienic to go to the toilet and that these children, who are already very poor, are at even more risk of getting diseases.
“I felt very sad that there are children in our world who do not even have a proper, clean toilet to use.
“Building a toilet costs £60 and in Junior Church we raised enough money to twin two toilets in Hexham Abbey. We paid for two toilets to be built in Cambodia and for toilet paper and soap.
“I thought this was great, but I want to do more.
“I decided I wanted to run the Junior Great North Run with my brother Calum to raise more money for Toilet Twinning.
“My target is to raise £240 which would be enough to build a school toilet block to be twinned with toilets in Hexham Abbey.
“I hope that when visitors to the Abbey see this, that perhaps they might also twin their toilet, or think about raising money as well.”
Ronan will join 6,500 kids at the Junior and Mini Great North Run, the UK's most popular children's running event, on Saturday 10 September.
The 4km and 1.5km events, which reached capacity in record timing this year, take place on the NewcastleGateshead Quayside, the day before the iconic Great North Run.
Ronan's campaign has a strong link to the event this year as the world's biggest Half Marathon seeks to recruit a participant from more countries in the world than any other running event.
If Ronan succeeds, the money would be enough to build a toilet block in Sierra Leone, Pakistan or Chad, which is one of the countries still outstanding in the Worlds' Favourite Run initiative.
Ronan's mum Lorna McGowan, said: “Ronan had his eyes opened to other cultures from an early age after meeting a lot of people from different countries but he was especially touched by the Junior Church's Toilet Twinning fundraiser.
“He felt very sad that so many people across the world do not have access to good facilities for a safe, clean toilet.
“After he got involved in the church's fundraising to build two toilets in Cambodia, Ronan decided he wanted to do more and decided he wanted to raise money to build an entire block.
“Ronan and Calum running the Junior Great North Run for this challenge is something that Philip and I really support as it has so many positives.
“We are really proud that Ronan is using the event to do something positive to improve the life of other children.”
To support Ronan's fundraising, visit his fundraising page justgiving.com/fundraising/RonanMcGowan
Do you know an Andorran living in Acton? A San Marino scientist in Salford? A postman from Palau? A teacher from Togo?
To find out about the remaining countries that are still needed for The World's Favourite Run initiative visit: Greatrun.org/gnrworldrun