Researching the cures


TJ goes the extra mile (…and miles) for PCRF

Nine-year old TJ Portt from Plymouth is undertaking a huge challenge in memory of his Nanny Heather – he’s pledged to run 100 miles in 100 days and has already smashed his original fundraising target of £200.

The run started as a school project to run a half-marathon (about 13 miles) by running a mile every day, but very quickly TJ decided he wanted to do something more – and do it for charity!
TJ wanted to raise money in tribute to his Nanny Heather, Heather Ackerman, who died of pancreatic cancer in March 2019 after being diagnosed the November before.
Dad Jamie recalls: “I said ‘Well, what would you like to do?’ He said ‘100 miles in 100 days! And I want to do it with YOU, Dad!’ We’ve got a habit of biting off more than we can chew, but it’s been going well.”
Heather was a fundraiser herself; she was a founding member of all-female Somerset-based brass band “Pink Bra’ss” who raised money for different cancer charities, even appearing at the Glastonbury Festival. After Heather’s death, Pink Bra’ss raised £1,500 for PCRF with a special concert in her memory.
Jamie said: “Mum was the sort of person who did more for other people than she did for herself and she and TJ were very close. I’m so proud of him.”
Fundraising for PCRF runs through the whole family: when Heather was diagnosed, TJ’s mum Lisa pledged to run the London Marathon for PCRF. Tragically Heather died just one month before the event, but Lisa went on to complete the Marathon, raising over £4000.
Now TJ has taken over the family’s fundraising. He said: “I wanted to do it because I miss Nanny, she was lovely. The best bit when I run with Dad is when we do the sprint finish! I’ve raised a bit of money but not better than Mum… yet!”
Dad Jamie said: “The lockdown has brought a lot of positives including the running – we were close before but now we’re even closer. Sometimes we hold hands when we run – and if it’s windy he runs behind me!”
TJ is a keen footballer but is now thinking about switching to running and is interested in trying Parkrun when it resumes after lockdown. He said: “I used to stop a bit but now I don’t stop at all, and we’re doing different routes every day!”
Support from the local Plymouth community has been fantastic on the pair’s morning outings, with locals waving out their windows, beeping their car horns and shouting their support.
Jamie added: “The other day a lady stopped her car and gave TJ some money – which she said she’d disinfected too!”
TJ is due to finish his challenge on 14 August and the family are planning a big celebration, including a Facebook Live streaming and a cake sale in the garden if lockdown is over.
If you’d like to donate to TJ’s campaign, you can do so here.