22 Jul 2015

Unstoppable action boy raises thousands for bereaved children

 Jacob Gwilliam

 Jacob Gwilliam is not your typical nine year old.

Since age five, he’s been taking part in endurance challenges to raise funds for charity.

Sarah, Jacob’s mum, says she noticed he had an ability to ‘keep going’ while on a family hike in the Scottish highlands when he was four.

“He just kept climbing and climbing without being tired,” says Sarah “and so when he said was interested in doing a structured challenge, we agreed we’d try and raise some monies for a local charity at the same time.”

Just a few months later when Jacob turned five, he climbed Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Mount Snowdon (over separate weekends) and raised £1,000 for Footsteps, a Worcestershire based charity that supports bereaved youngsters.

A new endurance test every two years

Jacob’s been fundraising for Footsteps ever since. Every two years he takes on a new endurance event, preparing by training with his dad for two-three months at a time.

At seven he took part in a double marathon cycling challenge, pedalling a course of 52.5 miles and raising another £1,000.

This year at age nine, Jacob ran the 5 km Race for Life with his mum, whizzing around the route in just over 30 minutes without stopping.

And in June, Jacob conquered a triple triathlon, swimming 150 metres, running 3 km and cycling 6 km. He finished the event with a trek up Mount Snowden. Jacob’s now well on his way to raising £400 with MyDonate.

“His little face at the end of each event is always a picture – he looks so pleased with himself that he has achieved what he set out to do,” says Sarah who says that Jacob loves setting himself tough goals.

Inspiring others for Footsteps

Jacob’s mum and dad both lost a parent when young, and so were drawn to raising funds for Footsteps.

“When we found out that the charity goes into schools to counsel and support bereaved children, we knew this was the right one as nothing like that existed when we were kids,” explains Sarah.

“The charity struggles for funding so we hope that Jacob’s achievements might inspire others.”

Sue Smith, service and fundraising manager from Footsteps says: “We are full of admiration and gratitude for every one of Jacob’s achievements on our behalf over the last five years.

“He and his family are so dedicated to our cause and we value their support enormously.

“We rely heavily upon support from the local community to enable us to continue providing our service free of charge to bereaved families. Jacob is such an inspiration.”

Simple and easy to use

Jacob is raising money with MyDonate.

Sarah says: “It’s so simple and easy to use with a, good page layout and a clear process for donating.”

“We are all very grateful for the continued support and donations from friends and family. They’re great.” BT’s free fundraising platform means every penny goes directly to charity. Footsteps have benefited from an additional £100 which is comparable to the cost of commission fees if other donation portals had been used.

Sue from Footsteps says: “As a very small local charity having to watch every penny we spend, we would never be able to justify using a fee charging platform so BT MyDonate has always worked extremely well for us. The extra £100 is the difference between being able to raise funds online and not being able to do so at all.

“This obviously means that a greater amount of donations can be made towards our work with bereaved families locally, which is a very important factor for us.”

Just like when he was four, Jacob plans to keep on going and is contemplating an Iron Man event for his next endurance challenge in 2017 when he’s 11.

You can give to Jacob’s latest endurance challenge at MyDonate

Find out more about Footsteps

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