Man takes on New Zealand charity run to thank hospice

Soon to be running in a New Zealand half-marathon, Michael Shaw, from Sight Service.
Soon to be running in a New Zealand half-marathon, Michael Shaw, from Sight Service.

A VISUALLY-impaired South Tynesider is taking on a charity run in New Zealand to thank hospice staff caring for his terminally-ill brother-in-law.

Michael Shaw is set to tackle the a half-marathon in Tauranga on New Zealand’s North Island next month.

Derek Graham and his wife, Pam, at their leaving party before emigrating to New Zealand.

Derek Graham and his wife, Pam, at their leaving party before emigrating to New Zealand.

The 51-year-old, of the Scotch Estate in Jarrow, will be raising funds for staff at Waipuna Hospice caring for his brother-in-law, Derek ‘Deka’ Graham, by doing the 13-mile run.

Deka, 64, a former shipyard worker, emigrated to New Zealand from South Shields with his wife, Michael’s sister Pam, 11 years ago, after their daughter, Penny, moved there.

In 2008, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, finding out last year that the disease has spread throughout his body and is now terminal.

Michael, a rehabilitation officer at Sight Service in South Shields, said: “Deka has fought it all the way and has been through chemotherapy and major operations to prolong the time he has left.

By all accounts they have really looked after Deka and Pam since the terminal diagnosis. They rely on public donations to keep doing the great work they do.

Michael Shaw

“He really has been through the mill. Unfortunately, he is now deteriorating and finding it hard.

“Waipuna Hospice looks after those with terminal illnesses and their families in the Bay of Plenty, where many expat British people live, including many Geordies.

“By all accounts, they have really looked after Deka and Pam since the terminal diagnosis.

“They rely on public donations to keep doing the great work they do.

“Some people think that everyone in New Zealand is minted, but they’re going through the same financial difficulties as us, and this is a charity that needs support.”

Michael, a regular participant in the Great North Run from Newcastle to South Shields, added: “I’m going over to visit Deka, along with his sister Sheila, and realised the half-marathon was on at the same time.

“It’s been about 10 years since I went over, so I’m looking forward to visiting again, and I hope I can raise some money for the hospice while I’m there.

“I always do the Great North Run, and I enjoy running. I’d usually be up to about eight miles in my training at this point, but I’m up to full speed now because of this half-marathon.

“It will be warmer than it is here, but they’ve just entered their autumn over there, and the average temperature will be between 18C and 20C.

“It will be beautifully scenic as well, but the charity is the important thing.”

Although Michael is visually impaired, he doesn’t need a guide to run with him.

He said: “I don’t go out running on the dark nights and will just use the treadmill at home, but I’m fine during the day.

“In the Great North Run, I usually just follow the runners in front of me.”

To sponsor Michael, go to www.fundraiseonline.co.nz/MichaelShaw

Twitter: @shieldsgazvicki