George Mathias - running with celebrities for charity
PUBLISHED: 00:00 19 September 2018
A 12-year-old from St Helens has gone the extra mile to say thank you to hospital staff for saving his baby brother's life.
George Mathais from St Helens with Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle and little brother James
George and James with television presenter Dan Walker
George Mathais from St Helens with comedian John Bishop and mum Sue
George Mathais from St Helens with Peter Andre and mum Sue
George Mathais from St Helens with Rebecca Adlington
George and James with singer Rochelle Humes
George and James with Susanna Reid
When George Mathias decided he wanted to raise money for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, he had an idea and ran with it. And ran, and ran, and ran.
The St Helens schoolboy wanted to thank the hospital for saving the life of his young brother and, so far, he has helped to raise more than three quarters of a million pounds.
When George was four his brother James was born seven weeks premature, as George had been, but he was healthy and went home weighing just 4lbs.
Six weeks later parents Sue and Richard found James unresponsive in his cot. He would not wake up and was barely breathing. He was rushed to Alder Hey and was put into an induced coma for three days.
Dad Richard said: ‘Thankfully, James pulled through to make a complete recovery. He is now a healthy, happy, crazy seven-year-old.
‘Sue and I wanted to say thank you to the hospital for saving James’s life, so we began fundraising for Alder Hey Children’s Charity. I became heavily involved in the fundraising side, helping to organise the Alder Hey Ball in 2015 which raised £1.7million.’
The couple continued to support the charity and when George was 10 he said he wanted to join in the fundraising. ‘I said we’d help him but it had to be his idea, and it would have to be something which would take effort from him, if he wanted people to support him,’ Richard added.
‘George came up with the idea of running a mile for every month he had had his little brother, to say thank you. At the time, that was 75 miles, and rising by a mile every month.’
On January 1, 2017 he ran his first mile and he then asked Jon Wilkin, the St Helens Rugby League captain and a family friend, to run a mile with him. When they had crossed the finish line George asked Jon to nominate someone to run the next mile with him.
Since then he has run with a galaxy of star names including Steven Gerrard, John Bishop, Paddy McGuinness, Sir Chris Hoy, Rebecca Adlington, and Susanna Reid, each nominated by the previous runner.
By November he had met his challenge of running a mile for every month he had shared with James and he is now aiming to complete a marathon for every year the brothers have had together. That’s a total of 208 miles and George has so far chalked up more than 170.
George’s efforts have earned him a number of local and regional awards and he was named the Pride of Britain Young Fundraiser of the Year at a glitzy ceremony in London late last year.
He told Lancashire Life: ‘I used to go out with my dad doing a few runs around St Helens and I enjoyed that and thought why not do more of it? It’s amazing how it has taken off. I thought it would just be me raising a few quid but it has really taken flight.
‘Everyone I have run a mile with has nominated someone else but if I could choose one person to run a mile with it would be Mo Farah. That would be brilliant.
‘James runs most of the miles with us and he’s quite good for his age but he gets left behind a bit sometimes so my mum has to drop back and be with him.’
By May this year George had raised over £60,000 and in June his charity teamed up with Alder Hey Children’s Charity to hold a special ball beside the runway at Liverpool John Lennon Airport. The ball – which was attended by 250 invited guests and was hosted by television presenter Ben Shepherd – raised £709,500 to buy further life-saving equipment for Alder Hey.
Dad Richard said: ‘It is incredible to see how far George has come in such a short time. We had no idea how such a simple idea would catch on, and the response from everyone has been incredible.
‘To see our boys on stage at the Pride of Britain is something we could never have even dreamed of, and we’re amazed at the amount of money he has raised. He has put his heart and soul into his charity, and we’re so proud of both of our boys, as James does most of the runs with George.’
Richard added: ‘George has runs coming up with Davina McCall, John Culshaw, Judge Rinder and we’re trying to arrange with Keith Lemon. Some are easy to sort out – the run with Michael Owen happened within a couple of weeks of us getting in touch – but others can take a long time.
‘When George met his original target of a mile for every month he’d had with James, I asked what he wanted to do and he said he wanted to carry on running. We’ll see what happens when he reaches the 208 mile mark and what he wants to do next. It was his idea to start this and it’s his charity and if he reaches a point where he feels he’s done what he can, then that’s fine. He’s done a great job and we are so very proud of him.
‘We do have to pinch ourselves at times – it was surreal seeing our sons get a standing ovation from Prince William and the Prime Minister – but he has put so much effort into it that he really deserves the recognition he has had.
‘It’s been lovely for us to see his confidence grow as well. We film all the runs and George does a question and answer session with each person as well. In that first video his knees were actually knocking when he was asking Jon Wilkin the questions, but he is so much more confident now and that’s great.’
To see films of George’s runs, to find out more, or to donate, go online to runwithgeorge.com