St Mary’s Centre (SMCCT) works with young people at risk of exclusion, violence, kidnap and death. They are on call all day and all night, every single day of the year. They mentor in housing estates, schools, pupil referral units and prisons. Their mission is, quite simply, to reduce violence and to save lives.

Primrose Hill resident and founder of The Primrose Collective, Jonathan Brandling-Harris is making it his mission to support them and he needs our help. Here’s what he says:

“Having spent the last few years with this amazing Charity to understand them as an organisation I want to raise awareness and their funding as much as possible because every penny goes directly into tackling knife crime. With over 100 knife related deaths in our Capital this year, it’s up to us to support these Charities. 

 “The work of the St Mary’s Centre benefits us all in the local community and it is down to us, as local residents, to support the very organisations who strive to make our home a safer place to live.”

“In April 2020 I will be running the Marathon des Sables, a six-day, 251 km (156 mile) Ultramarathon across the Sahara desert. Dubbed ‘The toughest footrace on earth’ due to running in 120 degree heat whilst being completely self sufficient – carrying everything you need to survive on your back.”

Naturally, I had to find out more about this daunting challenge. I put some questions to Jonathan and here’s what he told me:

• Why the Marathon des Sables?

I wanted to challenge myself and try one of the hardest races out there to really raise some proper money. I know one or two who have done it in the past and when I typed ‘hardest race possible’ into Google it came up!

• How are you fitting in the training schedule – which must be brutal – around your already busy life?
Work, run, sleep repeat! It just means getting up a little earlier and running twice a day, every day. It’s not too bad as the miles are around 50 a week at the moment. This will increase the closer we get to the race.

• How are you finding it?
Not too bad so far. Luckily there are some great podcasts to keep me engaged during the runs. I have to lose a lot of weight for the race too because we will be completely self-sufficient, taking all the food and our sleeping equipment with us – plus in 40 degree heat, so every Kilo lost now will be a Godsend on the sand. Friends and family think I’m mad, but all are very supportive.

Knowing the truly amazing work of the St Mary’s Centre, money raised by Jonathan’s sterling efforts will make a real difference in the heart of our community. If you would like to support him, here’s how.

© 2019 Joanna Reeves, all rights reserved.

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