Man set to run 15 marathons to mark charity anniversary

THE founder of a Yorkshire-based charity is celebrating its 15th year by running 15 marathons in 15 days.

John Kirkby began the UK-wide debt counselling service Christians Against Poverty (CAP), in a bedroom office in his Great Horton, Bradford home in 1996.

Since then, he has seen the operation expand to 160 church-based centres which have collectively helped 45,000 people with personal debt.

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Keen runner John, who turns 50 in a few weeks, is training hard for his latest challenge that will see him cover 393 miles.

“I want to get over to everyone that the issue of tackling poverty caused by debt is like a marathon not a sprint. It’s going to take real determination to make a serious dent in the UK’s poverty,” he said.

“At about 15 miles into a marathon, it really starts to hurt but it’s a case of keeping your eye on the finish and keeping going. The prize for us is seeing lives transformed and the burden of debt lifted from some very vulnerable people.”

He also wants to give a voice to people in poverty who commonly suffer a combination of changes in circumstance such as job loss, illness, bereavement or relationship breakdown.

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“Wherever I go I shall be saying ‘Remember the Poor’ a Biblical verse for all of us, not just Christians. Even when we’re going through tough economic times, we must remember to look after those who are worse off than we are.”

John, who lives with his family in Shipley, will be accompanied by friends Martin Cowles and Paul Cribb, as they set off from Edinburgh on November 8. From then they will run marathons in Newcastle, Nottingham, London and Bradford with John hosting a fundraising dinner in each city after each one.

John and the team then fly out to Australia, which began the same debt counselling service in 2000 and now has 23 CAP centres.

After running five marathons there, each with a fundraising dinner afterwards, the team will fly to New Zealand, which began CAP in 2008 and has eight centres.

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Marathons 10 to 15 will take place in New Zealand with the last in the capital of Auckland.

CAP has debt counselling centres in Leeds, Huddersfield, Bradford and Dewsbury, among many other towns and cities.