Running one marathon is hard enough, but running two back to back? That was the challenge of choice for endurance man James Lacey.

Inspired by heart warrior William and his dad Stuart at local club Messingham Martial Arts, James set himself the tough task of running 52.4 miles to celebrate Williams 10 year heartiversary.

Heart Dad and Chief Instructor at Messingham MA, Stuart, tells us about his son William, their journey with CHD and how the idea for a double marathon for CHSF came about:

Nearly 10 years ago my youngest son, William, was born with a hole in his heart and soon after, diagnosed with congenital heart disease.


After being told he would be lucky to live passed his first birthday if nothing was done, William was successfully operated on and had open heart surgery at the age of just 6 months. This was during a time that the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit was under threat of closure.


Everyone at the hospital was so supportive, professional and focused on what needed to be done, whilst also supporting me and my wife as we obviously were very worried and scared for our baby boy. This was all despite the worry about the future of their department and the pressure of possibly closing!


At the time I raised £1,500 to help the ‘Save our Surgery’ campaign set up by CHSF. I did this by training to do a half marathon but didn’t quite meet my target of £2,000.

Baby william in a hospital bed, lots of tubes and wires after open heart surgery with a waffle plaster down the middle of his chest

William (6mths) after open heart surgery

Baby william in a hospital bed, lots of tubes and wires after open heart surgery with a waffle plaster down the middle of his chest

In 2012 the heart unit at Leeds was under threat of closure and CHSF, patients and families campaigned to keep it open

Listen now to Stuart and James being interviewed on BBC Radio Humberside on the day of the Double Marathon Challenge.

James Lacey running a marathon

James had never run a double marathon before

Skip forward to this year, coming up to William’s 10-year heart anniversary, I had been thinking of an idea to say another thank you and to let the charity and staff know we had not forgotten what they did for our family.


Outside of work, I also run a community martial arts club, Messingham MA, and we often find causes to support by donating our funds, just to help a bit. But this time we wanted to do something much bigger.


This is where James Lacey comes in. James is a parent of one of my first ever students to sign up with us in 2014. He is an avid runner and he had set himself the challenge of running a double marathon, but he wanted to do it for a good cause.


James approached me, knowing what our club does to support its community, with an idea of making this challenge a fundraising event and asked me if I had any idea of a charity to do this for. This fell perfectly with plans to raise funds for CHSF.

“Thank you for doing all the things behind the scenes people don’t realise just wouldn’t be there without CHSF.”

James has completed half and full marathons before but never anything of this distance, so he set to training knowing it would be put to good use. I contacted CHSF about our event and set to planning and promoting.


During the time of his operation, it was so helpful to be close to William while he was in hospital. We were put up in a room on site so we could be as close as possible to our son while going through preparations, the operation and recovery. The facilities provided on the ward for those in recovery were great. Especially when you think how scary it can be for children, being in an unfamiliar environment as well as what they are going through. The fact that parents can stay with them during this traumatic time is fantastic.


10 years on, everything done at the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit has given us a healthy, fit, clever, little boy who is very active. He joins in our Taekwondo classes at Messingham and plays rugby for a local club. He is living life to its fullest and is a very happy little boy.


He is not phased at all by his story and when interviewed by Look North at the half-way point that he is happy that this challenge will help other families in similar situations.

Junior Rugby Team

William plays rugby for his local team

Baby william in a hospital bed, lots of tubes and wires after open heart surgery with a waffle plaster down the middle of his chest

William loves doing Taekwondo

James Lacey running a marathon

If I could give any advice for someone thinking about taking on a fundraising challenge for CHSF, some of the larger donations came from businesses. In return, we offered to post about their company in our social media posts and we also added their logo onto the running shirt provided by CHSF. Living in a village, it came in handy in order to gain local support.


We’d just like to say a huge thank you for all Children’s Heart Surgery Fund does to make what can be a terrifying experience as comfortable as possible. Thank you CHSF for being so understanding and for doing all the things behind the scenes people don’t realise just wouldn’t be there without you.


The businesses who sponsored this challenge that we would like to thank are:

  • Messingham Martial Arts
  • Old School, Messingham
  • The Crown Inn, Messingham
  • British Taekwondo Association
  • The Horn Inn, Messingham
  • M J Chadwick Plumbing & Heating
  • Samurai Hearts Martial Arts Academy, Grimsby
  • Grey Matters Centre, Scunthorpe
  • Cram Vape, Scunthorpe & Gainsborough
  • Top Marks Driving School, Malton
  • Messingham Friday Night Bingo
  • Messingham Juniors Football Club

Our initial fundraising total of £2,000 was very generously matched funded by James Lacey’s workplace DHL, taking the final total to an absolutely incredible £4,036!

Thank you once again to the brilliant James Lacey for pushing himself to cross that finishing line and Stuart Usher for organising such an awesome event to raise funds for CHSF.

An even bigger thank you goes to everyone who made a donation.

Feeling inspired and want to raise funds for CHSF?
We’re always on hand to help with your fundraising ideas. Call 0113 831 4810, email or send us a message using the ‘Chat’ icon on the bottom of this page.


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