Runners raise £21k to beat leprosy

By Austeja Treinyte

Colchester-based charity Lepra is celebrating this week as 11 runners have completed the London Marathon raising over £20,000.

The runners raised money by holding quizzes, casino nights and even running their own fundraisers on Facebook to help transform the lives of people affected by leprosy.

They have all been training for months to run the 26.2 miles. Lepra’s fastest runner came in 3 hours and 18 minutes, flying past their cheer point at Mile 11.

A University of Essex graduate Soph Bailey-Smith, who joined Team Lepra at the Marathon, rose over £1200 for the charity. Soph said she was encouraged to help Lepra after meeting someone with lymphatic filariasis, a disease caused by parasitic worms.

Soph completed the marathon in 4 hours and 31 minutes and will continue to support Lepra in the future.  

Charity’s Supporter Engagement and Events Lead Olivia Egan said: ‘Places in events like the London Marathon give our supporters a chance to take on a challenge to help raise much needed awareness and funds for Lepra to help support people affected by leprosy.’

In 2017, 210 671 people were diagnosed with leprosy and evidence shows that over 3 million people are living undiagnosed. Due to the prejudice around the disease it means many people are left to endure a lifetime of abuse, isolation and shame.

In 2017/18 Lepra reached 301,000 children, women and men directly through diagnosis, treatment and care in India, Bangladesh and Mozambique.

The charity has a range of events throughout the year. This weekend they have a team abseiling down the ArcelorMittal Orbit in London and are looking for cyclists to take part in the Prudential Ride 100 in August.

Lepra was founded in London on 31st January 1924, but moved to Colchester in 1974. Olivia Egan said they love being part of the local community in Colchester and are always looking to work more with those in the community around them.