Clarke's fundraiser: running the Ilkley Half in memory of my father

July 2019 | 5 minutes

Last year, Clarke took on the Great North Run to raise awareness about alcohol addiction and to raise money for Alcohol Change UK (then one of our predecessor charities, Alcohol Concern). This year he’s taking on another challenge: the Ilkley Half Marathon. This is his story.

So here we are, another year-ish on and I'm preparing for another half marathon with the self-set challenge of beating my time from last year’s Great North Run (1:57). I'll be running the inaugural Ilkley Half Marathon on 14 July. Why? I'd like to keep raising awareness and funds for Alcohol Change UK.

Ilkley is a special place to me. It’s the place my old man, Christopher Lloyd Harrison, spent his youth and attended grammar school – and he’s the reason I’m running the half marathon. We lost him on 30 May 2017 when he was just 55 years old, following his long and painful battle with alcohol addiction – a battle that lasted nearly 17 years.

No matter the situation, sharing or asking for help really does make a huge difference

The reasons why my father turned to alcohol are complex, but can generally be summed up in the fact he lost his business and struggled to recover. Alcohol was an escape for him; a way to mask an incredibly difficult situation. He struggled to share or accept his situation and spiralled because of this – which ultimately cost him his life.

Even up until his death my father never admitted he had a problem or even acknowledged what he was doing was destructive, not only to his own health but to those closest to him. That still blows my mind to this day.

My father was a great, respectable family man up until he lost his business. That event changed his journey, but things may have been very different if he had been able to deal with it differently…

My simple plea is that no matter the situation, sharing or asking for help really does make a huge difference – a value I now live my life by.

The last 17-ish years were tough, stressful, painful, emotional and not something we broadcasted. But Alcohol Change UK need stories to be told and experiences to be shared in order to raise awareness of this very common issue so hopefully sharing this experience has a positive impact and leads to some donations too.

For anyone who wishes to donate, please do via my Just Giving page. Every person that donates I will keep in mind when running, especially in the final few miles when I’ll no doubt need a boost to see me to the end.

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