Sandon family to mark five years since death of 21-year-old son and brother Ainsley Charles with five half marathons, starting with Sunday’s Baldock Beast
A family are set to mark five years since the death of their 21-year-old son and brother by running five half marathons, starting with the Baldock Beast this Sunday.
Sandon’s Jo Charles, 52, and her 25-year-old daughter Imogen are running a half marathon for each year since the tragic death of student sportsman Ainsley Charles in 2012.
They are fundraising for the mental health charity Mind – and they’ll be joined for Sunday’s run by five of Ainsley’s old friends from Baldock’s Knights Templar School, who will wear retro Arsenal shirts as a tribute to the staunch Gunners fan.
Ainsley’s sister Imogen thought of the five half marathon challenge as a way to improve her running and raise money for a worthwhile charity, while also honouring her brother’s memory.
She said: “I just want to raise awareness and money so hopefully no-one has to go through this. I miss my brother more than anything. If anyone can wait with a pizza at the end I’d appreciate it.”
Mum Jo added: “Ainsley was a fun-loving young man, with many plans for the future. If our run raises money, awareness and keeps his memory alive then that’s a great thing. He would be amused by his friends wearing Arsenal shirts!”
Joining them for the Baldock Beast will be Ainsley’s old classmates Tom Herring, Sam Booth, James Mayes, Chris Amoss and Ed Moyes.
Ainsley, a massive sports fan and formidable all-round athlete, studied sport science at the University of Sunderland. He played football for Baldock Templars and Cambridge United’s academy, cricket for Sandon Colts and Strollers, and rugby for the university.
He was found by friends after sadly taking his own life in Sunderland. He has since been honoured in fundraising events at the university, where there is now a sports award in his name.
After the Baldock Beast this Sunday, the challenge will continue on April 23 when Imogen and Jo run the ABP Southampton Half Marathon, taking in the city where Imogen went to university.
On May 7, Imogen and Jo will be joined by Ainsley’s aunt Julie and uncles Paul, Andrew and Tony for the Sunderland City Half Marathon.
A month later, on June 11, the pair will run the St Albans Half Marathon – and finally on September 10 they will go to Newcastle for the Great North Run, with Ainsley’s uncle Paul also taking part.
Paying tribute to Ainsley, his university tutor said: “He was a genuinely nice guy with an outgoing personality and very engaging to be around.
“He was extremely popular with his fellow students and lecturers in the department, and his network of friends extended right across the institution.
“He particularly enjoyed being an active member of the university’s rugby club, both as a player and socially. Ainsley wanted to use sport as a medium to help all sorts of people.”
Imogen and Jo set an initial fundraising goal of £1,000, but have already smashed their target with £1,435 raised, including Gift Aid.
To find out more or to donate, see uk.virginmoneygiving.com/running-for-ainsley.