Community running on people power

IT STARTED with a brief letter in the Press but ended up making a big statement. The King’s Mills joggers are an example of everything that is good about Guernsey. Determined, organised, good-humoured and, above all else, chock-full of community spirit.

To turn an offbeat letter complaining about runners using the roads of King’s Mills into a charity event that persuaded hundreds of part-time joggers to leave their homes and brave one of the foulest days of any year was a remarkable turnaround.

But this was just one of many such events, large and small, which have been organised in recent weeks for two young lads struggling to get by in the face of adversity.

Football marathons, Santa Fun runs, head shaves, pony treks, music concerts, charity calendars and church fetes have all been organised to raise money for two ailing youngsters the island has taken to heart.

Each relies on tapping into the community spirit of people wanting to look after their own, even if they might not actually know them.

The King’s Mills fun run could raise almost £5,000 towards the two causes. In the process it showed how effectively islanders are harnessing the power of a close-knit community.

Social media, sadly often misused to stir gossip and hatred, can, in a small island, be a powerful force for good. How else could a short letter tucked away in the corner of an Open Lines page have blossomed into a new jogging club capable of attracting more than 400 runners of all ages?

The letter was spread far and wide by Twitter and Facebook before being taken up by a few well-meaning individuals as a clarion call for action. That call generated more media interest and, just five weeks after the original letter was published, hundreds answered it.

Some wore fancy dress, many were clearly not regular runners but all responded to the chance to have a bit of fun and do some good at the same time.

Anthony McMahon and Jonah Gillingham are going to need more of that community spirit over the coming months. The King’s Mills joggers offer hope that they will find it.