Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards

The Spirit of Sport award sponsored by its4women.co.uk was recently presented to Paul Tyrrell at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards.

Paul undertook an incredible 32 full marathons in 32 days in all 32 counties. The mammoth challenge raised over £50,000 for the Children’s Cancer Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital, and saw Paul take centre stage at the gala awards sponsored by Specsavers.

Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards

Using his annual leave, he started his challenge on 2nd August last year completing the astonishing 838.4 mile distance by 2nd September.

The Spirit of Sport award, sponsored by online car insurance company its4women.co.uk, was presented to a delighted Paul by Stephen Lamb, Northern Ireland football legend Gerry Armstrong and GAA hero Peter Canavan. Several members of his family were also at Titanic Belfast to help celebrate the very special moment.

Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Sponsored by Its4women

Paul, who is deputy manager of the Royal Victoria Hospital, was supported throughout the race by fellow runners and friends from his local running club Beechmount Harriers. One member in particular, Paul Magee, kept him company by running up to 10 miles alongside him every day. Paul, who has two daughters Yasmin and Lucy, put himself through the punishing challenge to raise funds for a new piece of equipment for the Children’s Cancer Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

The devoted dad was thrilled to learn that the young patients will soon be taking delivery of their new portable scanner which should make their hospital stay a little easier.

He said: “I actually didn’t even think I would be in this category, so I didn’t hear my name being called and my daughter had to tell me, and I was so shocked. I am really chuffed and there were so many amazing people in that.”

A keen runner, Paul had completed around eight marathons and numerous half marathons when he decided to take up the challenge.

An intensive training programme he says was key to ensuring that he was able to complete all 32 marathons: “I started by doing 16 miles every day and we had the heatwave last summer, so I was running in that and then in the cold.

“I work night shift and would have slept until about 4pm and then ran for a couple of hours before going into work. I was running around 110 miles a week for eight or nine weeks.”

Surprisingly Paul only endured one injury during the punishing 32 days which he very much took in his stride.

He added: “I was about halfway through in Galway when I got a niggling pain in my leg. “It was sore for about 10 minutes and I put a video call into a physio I know who told me how to strap it up and that was it.”

His two daughters were behind him and he did miss out on being there when his eldest daughter Yasmin got her A-level results and was delighted when Lucy travelled to Donegal to celebrate with him at the end of his challenge. For Paul it was all about helping the Children’s Cancer Unit.

He said: “The Children’s Cancer Unit is a charity set up by parents of children with cancer over 20 years ago and they do great work. Before that there was no specific unit in the hospital for children with cancer and over time, they have raised so much money and improved facilities by introducing things like a special room for teenagers and improving it for all the kids. We wanted to buy them a portable ultrasound machine so that kids who are very weak and tired from treatment wouldn’t have to leave the ward to get a scan, it could come to them. It costs around £90,000 and the marathons raised £54,000 towards it. The unit is soon to take delivery of its new scanner.”

Paul is genuinely modest about his achievement. He added: “I think anybody could do it if they put their mind to it. It was a great experience, I really enjoyed it.”

You can find out more about the Children’s Cancer Unit Charity at www.childrenscancerunit.com

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