ALMOST 400 runners turned out for the first sponsored run organised by The Rowans Hospice.
The Race with Rowan event, held at Portsmouth Watersports Centre in Eastern Road, attracted hundreds of runners and spectators on Saturday morning.
Many of those raising money running the 10km and 5km fun run have a personal connection to the hospice.
Vicky Clements, 24, who lives in Portchester, raised £295 in sponsorship before she took part in the race.
She said: ‘I am doing it because the hospice gave my grandad and my uncle end-of-life care and also provided other members of my family with support during illnesses.’
Dropping his daughter off at the race, Vicky’s dad, Alan, 57, decided he would take part with her.
‘It is something that she wanted herself to do and because I dropped her off, I thought I might as well take part as well.
‘I wanted to give her some support and I asked if she wanted me to do it as well. I have done races in the past and thought I might as well.’
Also taking part in both races was a group of 30 pupils and 35 adults from Ditcham Park School in Petersfield.
Teacher Rachel Hewett, who organised the group, said the youngest person taking part was seven years old.
She said: ‘It is fantastic. I love events where you all get together and take part.
‘So many of my colleagues have got involved. You just have to look around and all the children are hanging out together and cheering each other on.’
The event was joined by The Rowans Hospice mascot, Rowan the Meerkat.
The animal represents the hospice’s Meerkat service, which offers support to children and young people who are facing loss and bereavement.
Sophie de Bere, co-ordinator of the Meerkat service, said: ‘We do pre and post-bereavement work with young people up to the age of 18 who have a significant adult who is unwell or who has died.
‘The service has been running for six years. It started off as part of a grant from BBC Children in Need.
‘The grant lasted for three years and then we got another grant for a further three years. Rowan the Meerkat represents the work that we have done with young people.
‘The whole idea is that meerkats look after their young.’
Before the race, The Rowans Hospice chief executive Ruth White said runners had pledged to raise more than £8,000, and added: ‘We are using the imagery of Rowan the Meerkat to spur runners on, to run for the hospice and to support our local community.’