Norfolk-based park runners Michael Harper and Amanda Thomson are putting themselves to the test by committing to running 5km around all of Haven’s 39 UK coastal holiday parks between March and October, in order to raise vital funds for Mental Health UK following the tragic loss of Michael’s brother in late 2017.
The pair only took up running last November as part of a small community running group, and now take part in regular parkruns in Norfolk. Michael also regularly visits Haven holiday parks because their company, Avani Solutions, supplies 22 of Haven’s parks with draft beer quality services.
Determined to find a way to fundraise for the charity that is so close to his heart, he came up with the idea to continue his running while away for work, and so the Haven 5k Park Run Challenge began. They’ve even had their own t-shirts created to wear throughout their journey.
As one in four people are affected by mental health problems in the UK, Michael wanted to raise awareness by running in areas with a large number of employees and a large footfall of guests. As Haven has 2.6 million guests per year, he knew that whilst at the parks, he would likely be reaching people who are struggling themselves.
Michael and Amanda’s aim is to involve as many people as possible and have Haven holidaymakers, holiday home owners and team members join them on their runs around the sites to spread the message about the positive impact exercise can have on mental health.
Commenting on how it’s going so far, Michael said: “We’re discovering just how hilly some of our UK coastline is! The Haven teams have been really supportive and I’m hoping we can persuade a few people to join us on our runs. Everyone has their own reasons for running and while mine is a way to remember my brother it has also become an incredible way to connect with other people – and to get fit, of course.”
Once they’ve completed the challenge by October, they want to build a legacy so that Haven 5k Park Runs continue year after year with all the physical and mental health benefits that exercise brings.