A SCHOOLGIRL took centre stage at the Essar Chester 2017 Half Marathon on Sunday as she pressed the start button for the kids’ fun run.

Beth Hill, who suffers from swelling on her brain, started the race for over 800 youngsters who took part in the one-mile fun run around Chester Racecourse, just after the start of the main half marathon event.

The nine-year-old and her family, mum Helen, dad Mark and sister Lucy, six, were guests of honour at the Essar Chester 2017 Half Marathon as the family have been supported by Claire House Children’s Hospice, the race’s official charity.

The family, who live in Great Sutton, Ellesmere Port, were joined by Olympic medallist Rebecca Romero, from Chester, who took to an open top bus to start the main half marathon.

Beth’s dad Mark, a keen runner who is took part in the main half marathon event, said: “In 2016, Beth was hospitalised for five months with a second episode of encephalitis, a serious condition that causes the brain to swell. She will need support for the rest of her life.

“Without the support of Claire House, she would have been in hospital double the amount of time. The team have really helped to improve Beth’s quality of life since she left hospital last July.

“We will always be so grateful to Claire House for the support they gave to our family at a time when we needed it most.”
More than 6,000 runners are pounded the streets of the city for the Essar Chester 2017 Half Marathon, with 100 runners raising money for Claire House Children’s Hospice.

Mark Pearson, event manager for Claire House Children’s Hospice, said: “At Claire House we love it when kids support kids so we were delighted to be able to invite Beth and her family to start the Fun Run and cheer on all the kids who were taking part.

“Claire House needs to reach out to ever child and family that needs us. Without the support of events like the Essar Chester 2017 Half Marathon, we simply wouldn’t be able to do the work that we do, supporting families from Chester and the surrounding areas.”

Almost 6,000 runners and an army of spectators took to the streets of Chester and South Wirral for the Essar Chester 2017 Half Marathon on Sunday.

Organisers expect to raise more than £600,000 for charitable causes with Claire House Children’s Hospice being the official race charity for 2017.

Race director Andy White, of Active Leisure Events, said: “From start to finish this has been a race to remember.”