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Going hard and staying home for the NHS


Two young triathletes are putting their time at home to good use and raising money for their local NHS charity whilst keeping fit.

Ella Stewart and Sam Blackwell, both eleven, are members of West Suffolk Wheelers triathlon club who, like all triathlon clubs, have stopped meeting physically during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pair are good friends and, wanting to carry on with the sport they love, decided to set out on a challenge to complete a home IRONMAN and raise money for charity at the same time.

The charity they chose is West Suffolk Hospital’s My WiSH Charity, which aims to support patients and their families and friends during treatment. It is a charity very close to Ella, whose mum Helen works at the hospital as a respiratory physiotherapist and is treating COVID-19 patients.

It’s also the hospital which cared for Ella when she was born: “I wanted to raise money to say thank you to West Suffolk Hospital because when I was younger they looked after me through my hip reconstruction.

“With my club not meeting due to coronavirus and us staying home to keep safe, I wanted to stay fit and raise money for the hospital.”

An IRONMAN triathlon consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile cycle and 26.2 mile run, and Ella and Sam will complete this challenge by doing a little bit each day, with rest days throughout the week.

They’ve set the target to finish on Wednesday 6 May, having started on Friday 17 April as a motivator through the three-week block following the government review of lockdown measures.

When Ella asked Sam if he wanted to join her in the challenge, there was only one answer: “When Ella asked I didn’t hesitate to say yes. I wanted to raise money for the NHS and am using my sport to help.”

Participating from separate homes with pop-up pools in their gardens, static bikes and treadmills, as well as using their one-time-a-day piece of exercise outside their home, Ella and Sam are constantly in touch with each other to encourage one another in their challenge through their social distancing.

Alison, Sam’s mum, said: “Having something to aim for together, rather than just be training all the time has really motivated them.

“They understand the situation really well for their age, and it’s nice to know they’re doing something bigger than themselves.”

Coming from triathlon families, both Ella and Sam have parents who have represented the Great Britain Age-Group Team this year and both have a parent to call coach, meaning they are well supported and looked after to keep them safe whilst completing the challenge.  

If you want to support Ella and Sam as they raise money for the West Suffolk Hospital, you can donate via their Just Giving page below.


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