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Fundraising stories: running for the National Trust

A group of trail runner run along a muddy path through grass, lined with trees in berry
Trail runners at Cheddar Gorge in autumn | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

There are lots of ways to support the National Trust and we are grateful to everyone who chooses to fundraise for us. Many people choose to support us while boosting their own fitness and wellbeing by running marathons, half-marathons or any long distance that challenges them. These are the stories of two such supporters. Find out where they ran, the distances involved and their admirable reasons for doing so.

Zohir Uddin – running 125km for our 125th anniversary

After Zohir Uddin's wife, Abida, rekindled his interest in the natural world, he took out a joint National Trust membership as a Valentine's Day gift. Ever since the couple have been exploring historic houses, parkland and beaches, and Zohir was inspired to fundraise to mark our 125th anniversary.

Over two months in 2020 Zohir raised money by covering a distance of 125km around their favourite National Trust places.

A response to the pandemic

Zohir took on this challenge, which involved 15 long runs and one cycle ride, to help the Trust continue looking after nature during the pandemic, which had a massive impact on our finances. 'The crisis has made us all realise how important nature is and how much we've taken it for granted,' he said in 2020.

The special places he chose were an escape from the hustle and bustle of his usual London life and were what had inspired him to take on a fundraising challenge to help protect them for future generations.

Rewards of the challenge

Zohir's challenge was full of memorable moments. After completing a run at Petworth House and Park in the South Downs, he was rewarded by the sight of a herd of fallow deer on the hillside.

‘My wife and I stood there for about half an hour,’ he remembered. ‘We didn’t even get our phones out, we just stood and looked at the deer and lost ourselves in the moment. There was no-one else there, just us'.

Another special moment was enjoying views of the Seven Sisters Cliffs from Birling Gap: a stretch of pristine coastline on the south coast.

Zohir’s challenge raised more than £800, which his employer generously promised to match.

Sharing a love for nature

Zohir wants more people living in urban environments to experience the benefits of the natural world - spending time in green spaces to pause and reflect and notice the changing colours of the seasons - and hopes his fundraising efforts will encourage others to rediscover nature as he did.

‘I hadn’t even heard of the National Trust until a few years ago,’ he confessed. ‘Visiting the countryside just wasn’t on my radar and wasn’t something I thought I’d be interested in doing. But since becoming a member I’ve grown a real passion for it.

‘As someone from an ethnic minority, I want to increase awareness about what the National Trust does among people who may not have heard of it or have easy access to the countryside'.

The house at Chartwell, Kent
The house at Chartwell, Kent | © National Trust Images/Chris Jonas

A love at first sight

Zohir first fell in love with National Trust places after his wife took him to Chartwell, the Kent home of Winston Churchill. He was struck by the beauty of the lake, the trees and the surrounding countryside.

The National Trust is a national institution, and the countryside it looks after is for all of us to enjoy. I want to raise awareness of that.

A quote by Zohir Uddin Fundraiser

Since becoming full members, Zohir and Abida have explored moated castles, rugged coastlines and wildlife-rich parkland all over the country. When the couple are looking for a quick escape from the stresses of daily life they go walking in the hills at Dunstable Downs in Bedfordshire. They also like to unwind at Morden Hall Park: a peaceful wildlife haven amid a bustling urban community in south London.

‘These places allow us to forget about the world. My wife and I have very busy work lives and we go to National Trust places to escape the mayhem and chaos'.

Emily Martin – multi-marathon challenge across North Devon

North Devon is more than just home for marathon runner and fundraiser Emily Martin. The sandy beaches, coastal trails and country houses looked after by the National Trust across this region have nurtured her wellbeing and provided a backdrop to episodes of her life, from finding solace in bereavement to helping patch up family feuds.

Giving something back

In 2019, student nurse Emily took on a multi-marathon challenge to 'give something back' to the places that have made her who she is: running one marathon and two half-marathons across the region to raise funds for the Trust and to keep our ‘amazing work going.’

‘Growing up in North Devon, you're constantly surrounded by National Trust land and properties,' said Emily. 'Whether it be a Sunday afternoon walk at Arlington Court, a training run at Mortehoe or summer adventures at Baggy Point, I have spent so much of my time in these places and they would not be there, in the amazing condition they are in, if it weren’t for the charity's staff and volunteers.’

Being able to get out for a walk, some fresh air, a drink, some lunch; to get together for a moment or a whole day at the beach – looking back at all those times, it just would not have been the same without these special places.

A quote by Emily Martin Fundraiser

Space for reflection and reconciliation

The wild coast and historic homes of North Devon mean more than a great day out for Emily and her family.

‘I’ve trained for my events on all the coastal paths,' she said. 'Family disagreements are sorted over coffee and cake at the cafés, and Boxing Day walks are at Arlington Court or Heddon's Mouth every other year.

‘The past years have been tough with my parents’ divorce, but to have all these National Trust places on our doorstep has been invaluable.’

View of the south and east fronts of Arlington Court with semicircular Doric portico and autumn leaves on ground in Devon.
View of the south and east fronts of Arlington Court, Devon | © National Trust Images/Matthew Antrobus

A place to belong for the whole family

Emily says Arlington Court, in her hometown of Barnstaple, has always been her ‘go-to place for everything.’

‘It’s the hub of our family. It’s always, “We’ll go to Arlington” – whatever’s going on. We went there when my auntie broke her back and sat in the café by the lawn, we take the dogs out for walks, and back in 2015 we took a family walk there before attending my grandma’s funeral.

‘The wilderness walk at Arlington is really lovely. It’s all under the trees and in the summer the ground is covered in bluebells. As you walk out, the lake just appears. I like to have lunch there before going to see the cows on the other side. Sometimes we see a heron nesting in the trees. You could spend so many hours there.’

Taking part in marathons and sporting events

If you’ve been successful in the open ballot for the London Marathon, Great North Run or any sporting activity and want to run for us, we’d love to hear from you. We can provide you with a National Trust running vest, help with setting up your donation page and send you lots of tips on how to maximise your donations. We’ll even send you one of our own eco medals when you finish. Get in touch at

Thank you

We're so grateful to all our fundraisers that take on incredible challenges to help us protect nature and history for future generations to enjoy.

As a charity, fundraisers are vital to ensure we can continue protecting these precious landscapes and the wildlife that depends on them. Every amount raised makes a real difference.

Thank you for your support. It matters more now than ever.

View of Snowdonia with mountains in the background and a rocky landscape and wooden bridge in the mid ground

Give back to the places you love

Whether you choose to fundraise, donate or volunteer, there are lots of meaningful ways to help look after the places in our care for future generations.

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