KIND-hearted tots braved torrential rain to race in support of a dad who will run two marathons to raise money for their nursery.
Forty-five youngsters at the YMCA Whale Island Nursery ran, cycled, skipped and walked a total of 183 laps around the upper lawn at the HMS Excellent navy headquarters to give a moral boost to Paul Cutler.
He is doing a marathon in Edinburgh next month and the 50-mile North Downs run in August.
The 33-year-old chief petty officer who is based at the dockyard as a weapons engineer said the Whaleathon was just what he needed to give him a lift ahead of the gruelling challenges.
CPO Cutler, who accompanied his son Stanley, two, on the day, said: ‘It was great to have that support from the children.
‘They were all getting soaked but kept going.
‘I’m a keen runner but the 50-mile race will be tough.
‘I hope I raise as much money as possible for the nursery.
‘Stanley’s been there for a year and a half and he absolutely loves it.
‘They staff to a fantastic job and it’s nice to be able to give something back.’
The Whaleathon runners aged between six months and four years are now collecting their sponsorship money, which is creeping up to £300.
They are planning to split the full amount between their nursery to spruce up a book corner will additional puff chairs and cushions and a children’s charity they will decide on.
Harley Gaiger, four, went round the lawn which measures about a third of a mile, a record six times.
He said: ‘I went in circles on my bike and I was so happy to be with my friends – it was fun.
‘We all got very wet and I had mud on my face but I didn’t mind.
‘Actually I stayed out there and played with sticks and got even more muddy.’
He added: ‘I like our book corner and I hope we have enough money to buy lots of cushions in different colours like yellow and red.
‘I hope there is lots of money to give to children who are not feeling well.’
Alison Murray, the nursery’s deputy manager, added: ‘The went well even though the weather was against us.
‘Everyone kept running in and out of the nursery – whenever the rain stopped the race was back on.
‘It was wonderful to see so many youngsters and their parents taking part and injecting extra fun into it, whether they were running backwards or getting on their bikes.
‘The children were so excited, especially knowing they were giving their moral support to Paul.
‘We’re very grateful to him for running on our behalf and wish him the best of luck.’