Hitchin runner, 12, raises £500 for Médicins Sans Frontières doctors

PUBLISHED: 06:58 21 September 2018

Hitchin's Phoebe Canell, 12, who spent her summer holidays running to raise money for Médecins Sans Frontières. Picture: Katie Canell

Hitchin's Phoebe Canell, 12, who spent her summer holidays running to raise money for Médecins Sans Frontières. Picture: Katie Canell

Archant

A 12-year-old Hitchin schoolgirl spent her summer holidays running to raise more than £500 to support doctors in Syria and other crisis zones.

Hitchin's Phoebe Canell in Venice's St Mark's Square during one of her fundraising runs for Médecins Sans Frontières. Picture: Katie CanellHitchin's Phoebe Canell in Venice's St Mark's Square during one of her fundraising runs for Médecins Sans Frontières. Picture: Katie Canell

Phoebe Canell decided to complete 25 two-kilometre runs to raise funds after reading about work done by international humanitarian NGO Médicins Sans Frontières – in English, Doctors Without Borders.

“A man described how the streets in Syria are littered with explosive devices and landmines, and people trying to rebuild their houses damaged in war are being wounded and killed all the time by these,” she told the Comet.

“I just wanted to try and help.”

Phoebe’s commitment saw her running through extremely hot weather, early in the morning and late at night to avoid the worst of the heat. She continued during her family’s holiday to Venice, going out each morning at 6.30am.

Hitchin's Phoebe Canell, 12, during one of her fundraising runs for Médecins Sans Frontières in Venice, Italy. Picture: Katie CanellHitchin's Phoebe Canell, 12, during one of her fundraising runs for Médecins Sans Frontières in Venice, Italy. Picture: Katie Canell

She has raised more than £500 for MSF – an achievement made all the more impressive by the fact she had never before run 2km without stopping, but managed all 25 excursions in one go.

She said it felt amazing to have finished the challenge, which had felt daunting when she set out – but that “the thought of making a difference to people’s lives kept me going”.

“At times it was really hard, especially considering it has been so hot all the summer,” she said.

“Mum ran with me, and encouraged me all the way.”

Phoebe has received a letter from an MSF doctor explaining how the money makes a difference – including how doctors were able to save the life of a three-year-old girl injured by a landmine.

Asked how the experience had changed her as a person, Phoebe said: “It has made me think how lucky I am to be living in a safe place with no landmines or explosive devices.

“It has made me realise that one day I’d like to help more – perhaps by working alongside the doctors who save people’s lives every day.

“It has also made me realise you can do anything if you put your mind to it – and, in the end, I even found running fun.”

Médicins Sans Frontières was formed in 1971 by French doctors who had worked in Biafra during the Nigerian Civil War. It now has missions across the world.

Phoebe has raised more than £500 for MSF after initially setting out to raise £300. You can still donate to her total at justgiving.com/fundraising/phoebec.

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