Looe Community Meals received a surprise donation recently after Mark Parham laced up his running shoes for the first time and took on the Plymouth 10K.

“It was all sort of out of the blue really” said Mark, manager of the Looe branch of the Cornish Bakery. “I was trying to organise some kind of charity event we could do here. My girlfriend works at Marjon University in Plymouth and they had ten free places for the Plymouth 10K, so they said ‘do you want to run the race?’ I’d never run before in my life, or I think the last time I did was when I played football back in school, but I thought why not? I’ll give it a go.”

Choosing which worthy cause to support was an easy decision for Mark, as his branch of Cornish Bakery is already involved with helping Looe Community Meals, a local initiative under the banner of the Boundless Trust charity, which delivers free food to residents struggling with illness, infirmity or to make ends meet in these challenging times.

Mark said: “We’ve been working with them for the best part of a year now, supplying hot meals once or twice a month for between 40 and 60 people. It’s a great cause and I told Sara Barron, who runs it, that I wanted to do something to help raise money and the 10K seemed the obvious choice.”

Now, the work began in earnest as Mark had to get ready for his first race.

“It was challenging to start with, I trained everywhere for about six months. I ran around Plymouth, Looe to Hannafore and back, but Siblyback Lake became my regular as it’s exactly 5,000 steps around the lake. I visited my brother in Boston in January, and even went out running there in the thick snow, with bears just coming out of hibernation!”

When the day finally arrived, Mark put all that hard work to good use, beating his personal best and finishing in under an hour.

“The race was tough,” he admits. “It was a boiling hot day, which isn’t great for running. But when I got there, I really wanted to smash the hour. So, I sprinted the last part and it nearly killed me, but I came in at 57 and a half minutes.

“I set a target for £250 and we raised £396. It’s going to go a long way, as for a small local charity like Looe Community Meals it’s a decent amount of money. So, yeah, I’m really pleased.”

Now that the running bug has taken hold, its seems that this may not be the last time Looe Community Meals feels the benefits of Mark’s efforts, as he’s already planning more races.

“I really enjoyed it, and I think I may do the Plymouth half-marathon next year. It’s all for a good cause, and I’m very happy with how it turned out.”

For more information on Looe Community Meals, click here.