PUPILS braved the driving rain to cheer on amazing running teacher James Laycock.
Support from parents and children from Padnell Junior School, who lined the streets to welcome back the 26-year-old, gave him the boost he needed at the end of a 24-mile fundraising run.
The run was in aid of the charity Hannah’s Holiday Home.
It was set up in memory of former pupil Hannah Westbrook who died from Hodgkin’s disease in 2004.
James decided to start the run at Southampton General Hospital where both Hannah and his late niece Sophie Laycock were treated.
The weather was kind to him until just a few hundreds yards away from the finish line in Padnell Road, Waterlooville.
He said: ‘It was actually really nice all the way through until I got to London Road, in Waterlooville, and the heavens opened.
‘But by then I could see all the kids standing out in the pouring rain waving flags and cheering me on and it gave me the most amazing boost. Just before I reached them I spotted some parents who came up and patted me on the back which was brilliant.’
James set off at 7.15am yesterday and was joined by his 64-year-old dad Patrick on his bicycle. Mr Laycock passed his son drinks, bananas and energy sweets to keep him going.
It took three hours in all.
‘I felt alright for the first 13 miles,’ said James. ‘But then my right ankle pretty much seized up because of the hills.
‘I pushed myself through it by thinking of my niece who was only four months old when she died. I also thought about the kids and how I wanted to make them really proud of me. The last couple of hundred yards were amazing and it made the world of difference to have them all cheering me on.’
So far the money raised for the charity stands at £550 but there is still a lot of sponsorship to come in.
James hopes he can raise even more for the charity which provides luxury holiday homes in Hayling Island and the New Forest to families whose children suffer from a serious or life-limiting illness. Headteacher Sandra Lawlor said: ‘All the staff and children are very proud of Mr Laycock and we all think that his achievement is amazing.
‘The whole school has spent this year raising money for Hannah’s Holiday Homes charity appeal and we are delighted that we have been able to support such a worthwhile cause.’
To sponsor James go tocharitygiving.co.uk/hannahshomerun
To donate to the charity go to hannahsappeal.org