Celebrating 10 years of the Willow 10K at Hatfield House

PUBLISHED: 11:54 05 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:01 05 October 2018

Jackie Scully, Bob Wilson and Duncan Sloan at the 2015 Willow 10K at Hatfield House. Picture: Kevin Lines,

Jackie Scully, Bob Wilson and Duncan Sloan at the 2015 Willow 10K at Hatfield House. Picture: Kevin Lines,

Kevin Lines

The annual Willow 10K at Hatfield House celebrates its 10th anniversary this weekend.

Willow was founded in 1999 by former Arsenal goalkeeper and TV presenter Bob Wilson and his wife, Megs, as a lasting memorial to their daughter, Anna, who died of cancer aged just 31.

Anna’s love of life and the enriching experiences of her own Special Days were the charity’s inspiration.

The very first Willow 10K took place on Sunday, November 22, 2009, around the picturesque grounds of Hatfield House.

The Welwyn Hatfield Times was there, as were Willow co-founders Bob and Megs Wilson, along with 645 runners.

The start of the Willow 10K at Hatfield House [Picture: Christopher Dean / Scantech Media Ltd
]The start of the Willow 10K at Hatfield House [Picture: Christopher Dean / Scantech Media Ltd ]

Since that day, the Willow 10K has become a well-loved fundraising event for the local community, as well as those helped by the Welwyn Hatfield-based charity from further afield.

This year’s Willow 10K will take place on Sunday, October 7.

The off-road, challenging route makes it popular with established competitors and the friendly, supportive atmosphere makes it achievable for first-time runners and walkers.

Over the years it has evolved to include a shorter 5K route, a 1K junior race and lots going on to keep spectators entertained, including a tiny tots scamper, stalls, music and refreshments.

Jackie Scully's Willow Special DayJackie Scully's Willow Special Day

Bob and Megs Wilson and Lord Salisbury will be there to celebrate the tenth anniversary on Sunday, as will a number of beneficiaries and their families who have benefitted from a Special Day and are returning to take part in this year’s Willow 10K anniversary event.

Among them is Willow supporter Jackie Scully, 36, from London.

Jackie was just 32 and newly engaged to Duncan when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

For her Special Day, Willow arranged for them to spend a day on the Orient Express.

Jackie said: “I was so thrilled to hear that there was an organisation set up in recognition of the fact that quality of life is, in many ways, as important as life-saving treatment; we all need something to look forward to.

“After all, the next chapter has got to be one worth fighting for.

“I jumped at the chance of being able to escape the conveyor belt of hospital appointments and waiting rooms for just one day and do something that put our relationship centre stage once more.”

Jackie took up running to give her something to focus on through treatment.

Last year, she and Duncan married on the morning of, and then ran, the London Marathon, raising money for Willow.

This will be her second Willow 10K and Duncan will be joining her.

She said: “The Willow 10K is such a special race. It is a humbling experience to join the sea of purple Willow T-shirts.

“I can’t think of a better backdrop than Hatfield House for an event that really does change lives.

“The 10th anniversary year makes the 2018 race even more special and I am looking forward to celebrating with all the runners.

“The finish line will also mark the end of my 2018 challenge – to complete 2018 activity-based miles, while encouraging others to move forward in their own lives. I can’t wait.”

This year’s Willow 10K, sponsored by Wrights, promises to be a special event.

Every runner will be timed and will receive a medal and anniversary T-shirt.

Every penny raised in sponsorship will help Willow to continue working with seriously ill 16 to 40 year olds to fulfil uplifting and unforgettable Special Days.

• For more on Willow visit, www.willowfoundation.org.uk/willow10k

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