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Cambridge United youngster and Liverpool fan Paddy Dunne inspired by Captain Tom Moore to run half marathon and raise £3,000 for the NHS

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An 11-year-old footballer with a love of writing, who one day wants to be a sports journalist, has found himself the subject of a news story this week after raising thousands for the NHS.

Paddy Dunne, who lives in Patmore Heath, Albury, and is a pupil at Furneux Pelham CofE Primary, set himself the tough challenge of completing a half marathon – or 20 laps around the heath – and finished it in 1hr 54min.

So far he has raised £3,080 for NHS Charities Together having been inspired by former British Army officer Captain Tom Moore, who walked 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday, raising a staggering £32.8m for the health service.

Paddy Dunne as he undertakes his half marathon (34606825)
Paddy Dunne as he undertakes his half marathon (34606825)

Said Paddy: "I liked the idea of Captain Tom doing 100 laps of his garden and I originally wanted to do a full marathon, but that's quite a lot for an 11-year-old as it can be quite dangerous for my joints. But I was quite determined because I wanted a challenge and I was a little bit bored during lockdown.

"I wanted a focus and a target so announced it to my mum on a dog walk – she said we would discuss it at the dinner table and it went from there!"

His parents Sarah and Robin said that if he could comfortably complete a 10km run then he could tackle the half marathon distance. "I kept on doing gradual runs and increasing the distances. I also play a lot of football with my older brother in the garden and he works me really hard so I run around a lot."

Paddy Dunne having completed his half marathon (34606821)
Paddy Dunne having completed his half marathon (34606821)

Paddy, who plays football for Cambridge United under-11s and is a Liverpool supporter, would like a career in sports journalism as he enjoys English at school and football, and wants to be able to write like The Times' chief football correspondent Henry Winter.

On the day of his run, villagers lined their driveways around Patmore Heath to cheer on Paddy, who was accompanied by brother Jamie, 16, for most of the run except for the last lap. "I enjoyed it at the finish line and enjoyed taking part, but it was quite tough. My legs were struggling quite a lot towards the end and it was a really hot day.

"But lots of people gave me support and every time I did another lap they were cheering and clapping."

Mum Sarah said her son's efforts were "amazing" and thanked everyone who had supported and sponsored Paddy. "Donations are still coming in, which is incredible and way more than we had ever anticipated or could imagine," she said.

Paddy Dunne was overjoyed to complete his half marathon. Picture: Vikki Lince
Paddy Dunne was overjoyed to complete his half marathon. Picture: Vikki Lince

"Paddy's run was amazing – he was hobbling a bit the day after, but he absolutely loved it. People had put out deckchairs in their driveways to watch. We made a big banner which we painted with rainbows for him to crash through at the finish line."

Visit www.justgiving.com and search for Paddy's Patmore Challenge to donate.

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