The sister of murdered soldier Lee Rigby is set to take on her longest ever running challenge at the Simplyhealth Great South Run tomorrow to raise money for the foundation set up to support to veterans and victims of British terror attacks.
Courtney Rigby, who is originally from Manchester but now lives in Oakamoor in Staffordshire, was just 11 years old when her brother Lee was killed by Islamic terrorists in 2013, outside his Woolwich barracks.
Fusilier Lee’s tragic story shocked the nation and since then, his family have dedicated their time to launching the Lee Rigby Foundation, a charity which offers veterans and victims of terror attacks the use of a free countryside retreat.
Courtney, who also has three other sisters Sara, Chelsey and Amy, is studying for her A-levels and has a part-time job at Alton Towers, but still finds time to work for the foundation, keeping it up-to-date on social media.
The family is passionate about continuing to support those who suffer the loss of a serving loved-one, after discovering there was little available for their mum Lyn and dad Ian following Lee’s tragic murder.
The retreat, named Lee Rigby House opened in October 2017 in Staffordshire and Courtney, who is now 17, decided she wanted to set herself a fundraising challenge to support the charity.
She has signed up to run 10 miles at the Simplyhealth Great South Run in Portsmouth on Sunday, October 21 with a team of family friends who will all be raising money for the Lee Rigby Foundation.
Courtney said: “Lee was my big brother, I looked up to him more than anyone.
“He was my hero but was taken from us, on 22 May 2013 my world came crashing down and everything changed for me.
“After Lee’s death, we all struggled to return to normal life because of the huge amount of attention that was on us, combined with the uncontrollable grief that we faced. Going from having a brother who would do anything for you and was everything you hoped
to have to then having an empty space in your heart at just 11 years old was extremely hard and something that will stay with me forever.
‘When we were at home, we quickly realised there was not a lot of support for families like us and my mum struggled a lot.
‘We decided to channel our efforts into setting something up to help people like us who may struggle and to use it as a way of keeping Lee’s memory alive.
‘The Foundation was made to give Lee the best legacy possible and I started to think of ways that I could continue to spread awareness about it, so I decided to sign up to the Simplyhealth Great South Run.
‘There’s so many things in life that Lee won’t be able to see me do but I am proud to be running to support something in his name.’
Courtney will take on the 10-mile challenge along with charity supporters Marlene Godwin and Kerry Page. The group has already raised over £1,000 for the Foundation.
The Simplyhealth Great South Run features 20,000 people taking making the event their greatest victory across a fast and flat course that is steeped in history.
Runners are granted special access to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and cross the finish line on the sea front overlooking the Solent.
The Rigby family are now in touch with many other families of victims who have felt similarly isolated at a difficult time in their lives.
Courtney added: “In losing Lee, I saw how some people who are close to the person get forgotten. We as siblings had to cope with Lee’s loss alone.
“We want to help people have a starting point for regaining their strength and perspective or even just a small way to re-build their lives.
“My training has been going well, I have never taken part in an event of this distance before so it will be a big challenge but I am really proud to be representing Lee and doing something that I didn’t think I’d be able to do.”
To support Courtney and the team’s fundraising, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/courtney-rigby