Lord Provost Donald Wilson has transformed himself from politician to marathon man – racking up more than 75km a week on the streets of the Capital in preparation for his first London Marathon.
It is not losing weight which has been his inspiration, but the tragic death of 13-year-old Jamie Skinner, who suffered a fatal cardiac arrest while making his debut for Tynecastle FC in December 2013.
“The Jamie Skinner Foundation is raising money for a cause which is very poignant and personal for me,” said Cllr Wilson.
“My grandson Harvey plays for Tynecastle FC in the first team. It just shows how something like this can happen to anyone.”
With only two 5km races under his now much-loosened belt, Cllr Wilson initially signed up to do the Edinburgh Half-Marathon next month to raise money for the Jamie Skinner Foundation, which aims to install defibrillators in sports clubs across the Lothians.
While undergoing training he was bitten by the running bug and now plans to take on the gruelling 26-mile race later this month.
Cllr Wilson said: “I don’t think when I signed up I really understood what 26 miles was. It is a huge undertaking. But I wanted to do something for the Jamie Skinner Foundation and this seemed to fit the bill.”
Despite suffering from shin splints, Cllr Wilson is running three times a week and sticking to a strict diet.
He said: “I got stuck at the half-marathon distance for a long time but I broke through. I am confident that one way or another I will finish the race.
“I’ve realised I have to be careful as whatever I eat, as I will have to carry it with me while I run.
“I am enjoying being a bit fitter, being out and about in the fresh air, and it is great fun.”
Cllr Wilson has already raised £2515 through sponsorship, which will be split between the Jamie Skinner Foundation and the Lord Provost’s charity One City Trust, which gives grants to small organisations fighting inequality in Edinburgh.
Jamie’s sister Sonia McCraw and cousin Karen Greechan met the Lord Provost at the City Chambers in October to discuss his plans to run the Edinburgh Half-Marathon.
He also pledged to host a fundraising event and attend a training course with the Scottish Ambulance Service on how to use a defibrillator.
Mrs McCraw, 30, said: “It is great, the fact that he has kept his word and he is now doing the London Marathon as well.
“It is a brilliant way to raise awareness for the charity.
“What happened to Jamie shouldn’t have happened and all of the help and support means we can do something about it.”
To sponsor the Lord Provost, visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/lordprovost
IN MEMORY OF JAMIE
THE News has joined the family of Jamie Skinner in launching the Shockingly Easy campaign. We hope to ensure there is a life-saving defibrillator in every Lothian sports centre. Here’s how to help:
• Make a donation or fundraise for a defibrillator Cheques payable to The Jamie Skinner Foundation can be sent to Shockingly Easy, The Edinburgh Evening News, Orchard Brae House, 30 Queensferry Road, EH4 2HS.
• Volunteer to take a defibrillator course at your sports club
• Learn CPR skills
If you can help, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clubs involved so far include:
• Easthouses FC
• Edinburgh South FC
• Kirkliston & South Queensferry FC
• Lauriston Thistle FC
• Leith Athletic FC
• Loanhead Miners Youth FC
• Sighthill Bowling Club
• Silverknowes Golf Club