Why I’m running Gingerbread’s Virtual Marathon – Daniel’s story

Posted 17 May 2019

Gingerbread Fundraising Officer Daniel writes about his experience of growing up in a single parent family, and why he’s taking part in our Virtual Marathon as a tribute to the strength of his parents.

On January 10th 2000, I got a phone call from my mum saying that my dad suffered a brain haemorrhage and was in hospital. 43 weeks later on November 6th, my father passed away. I was 10 years old when this all started.

My mum still found the time to spend time with me

From the age of 10, I have lived in a single parent household. At the time, you don’t realise the situation you are in or the sacrifices your parents make for you. It’s only when you look at it in retrospect that it all comes to light. My mum worked super hard to make sure I didn’t go without, at first continuing with her cleaning job and then, within a couple of years, inspired by the care my dad had received, by working in a care home herself. This meant an hour-long bus journey to work every day, and late finishes coupled with early starts – and even on those days, I would still have dinner ready for me. It also meant that most years, my mum would miss out on Christmas, as she would be required to work that day.

Despite the erratic work hours, my mum still found the time to spend time with me. One fond memory we have is going to wrestling shows. As a kid I was a huge wrestling fan, and one day, we found a wrestling promotion that was doing a show near my birthday. We ended up trekking up to Oxford to watch it, and there we received a leaflet about another event, and that’s how it all started. Over the next two years we would go to Hertfordshire, Harrow, Bethnal Green and Walthamstow to watch these shows. Initially my mum had no interest in it, only attending for my sake, but in the end, she was quite in to it.

She has always believed in me

As I got older and started taking on responsibilities of my own, that’s when it hit me how much my mum had accomplished by herself. From dealing with my dad’s hospitalisation, going from one side of the Northern Line every other day to go and see him, to the shock and grieving following his passing away, to then having to raise an adolescent son by herself, making sure I had everything I needed to excel in education and life in general.

I am extremely proud of what my mum has achieved. She has always worked hard to make sure we never went without. She is extremely selfless; her desire to help people is partly what led me to working in the charity sector. At work, she has always had a love for what she does and a love for the residents she works with.

My mum has always been incredibly proud of me. She has always had my back – whether in school, university or in the workplace, she has always believed in me. And she has always been someone I have turned to when making a decision, as I know she always has my best interests at heart. When I became Muslim, she was so supportive, from giving me a hug when I told her initially to buying halal meat and making every effort to learn.

My mum has always put me ahead of herself, and for that I am eternally grateful.

All single parent families want is normalcy, to prosper, to feel valued

So this Ramadan, inspired by the Virtual Marathon that Gingerbread are holding in June and to honour my mum’s efforts, I’m running my own Virtual Marathon. To give myself an extra challenge on top of what is already a challenge in itself, I’m doing 43 miles to mark the amount of weeks my dad was in hospital.

This Virtual Marathon is a celebration of my mum’s efforts in raising me as a single parent. When I told her about Gingerbread, she said she had no idea organisations like that existed when she was raising me, and would liked to have known about it. And unfortunately, many single parents don’t – so, in order to ensure that as many single parents are aware of the work of Gingerbread as possible, I want to raise £1000.

The Virtual Marathon will be tough, as I will be fasting while doing it. However, I believe that through my efforts, more parents will have access to Gingerbread’s services. Growing up, it wasn’t just my mum who was a single parent – many of my friends’ parents also were. And all single parent families want is normalcy, to prosper, to feel valued. And Gingerbread, through its advice, peer support and campaigning, provides that for single parent families.

We’re launching our Virtual Marathon to give dedicated supporters like you the chance to clock up 26.2 miles flexibly this June while fundraising for Gingerbread. Run, walk or jog at the park with your children, on the journey to work, or on the treadmill at the gym to help us support more single parent families when they need us most. Find out more and sign up.

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