Wednesday, 7 March 2012

A parkrun for PC Rathband

By rights, none of us should recognise the name PC David Rathband. He should just be another Newcastle police officer doing his job, known only to his family and friends. But some tense days on Tyneside and a mad man with a shotgun changed all that. And then this week, for whatever reason, it all became too much and PC Rathband took his own life.

What you might not know about PC Rathband is that he was also a runner. He ran the Great North Run to raise awareness of the Blue Lamp Foundation, the charity he supported. And he came and ran Newcastle parkrun with his running buddy and guide runner Kerry a couple of times.

So this Saturday I knew there was to be a moment of remembrance and a minute’s silence in tribute to one of our parkrun clan. I was asked to help marshal a turn, just before the gate and the 4k marker. It meant I missed the start and the tributes as I was setting out markers and getting ready for the runners.

But it did put me in a great spot to take some photographs, whilst making sure everyone followed the right course. 
Darren Rathband running Newcastle parkrun in memory of his brother PC David Rathband
Darren Rathband running Newcastle parkrun in memory of his brother PC David Rathband

I got a good few smiles and waves as I shouted out encouragement to the runners coming through. And I spotted a couple of the Blue Lamp Foundation supporters in their T-shirts and gave them an encouraging shout.

But I did a double take as I saw a group of runners coming through. There was Kerry, hand in hand, just as she had run with PC Rathband with another runner who was his double.

I didn’t know at that point that it was his twin brother, Darren, who had come from Australia to take part in the parkrun, but the resemblance was unmistakable. It was one of those moments when I wasn’t sure whether to put the camera down or to carry on shooting, but I got a cheery wave as they went past.

I know from personal experience the power that running has to heal emotional hurts, to draw out strengths and to forge a shared experience of togetherness. I hope PC Rathband’s friends and family felt some of that on Saturday.

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