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44 marathons, 44 European countries, 44 consecutive days

Peter Thompson completed an epic adventure on behalf of Livability Holton Lee’s Flourish project and Mind. He ran an incredible 44 marathons in 44 days – a marathon within every country in Europe; and as a result has won a prestigious Pride of Britain award as ‘Fundraiser of the year’ raising a staggering £20,000+ for both charities. Pete will join the regional winners at the live show at the end of October. Peter was nominated for the award from his region and joined a shortlist of four others from the area. Read more about the nomination.

Peter says his three main aims were:

  • To raise support for mental health
  • To inspire people to challenge their limits
  • To run a really, really long way!

About Peter Thompson

Peter, works at a local support service in Poole, Dorset. A keen runner and traveler, Peter has completed marathons across the globe including in London, Isle of Wight, France and Amsterdam.

‘Running has allowed me to travel the world, make some amazing friends and achieve things I never thought possible.’

Watch Pete’s final steps in his 44th marathon in Dublin

Raising awareness for mental health

Pete has used his marathon challenge to raise awareness for mental health and funds.

‘This is my way to move my focus away from running quickly to running for a cause. It is a way to challenge myself in a new way and use my running ability to try and make a positive difference. It is also my way of showing to myself, and hopefully others, that it is ok to admit when things have gone too far and that it is possible to change,’ says Pete.

‘I have had many friends and family members who have, and who still suffer, from a variety of mental health conditions,’ says Peter. I have seen how debilitating this can be, and how frustrating it can be to see services stretched and the right support often extremely hard to come by.’

You can still support Peter… Sponsor the Marathons for the Mind challenge here! →

Planning the route: Planes, trains and automobiles

Once I’d come up with the idea of running across Europe I had to work out if it was actually possible! I used the Official United Nations Statistics to determine how many independent countries were actually in Europe, as there seems to be many differing opinions.

The route itself involved a mixture of trains, planes, buses, taxis, cars and ferries and spanned the entire continent of Europe. Those hours and hours spent planning paid off. There were many variables that I couldn’t control which had the potential to create problems along the way but, for me, overcoming these added to the challenge. If it was easy I would have been trying to come up with some other equally inventive way to get me out of work for 2 months!’

Pete’s challenge helps support Livability’s Flourish Project

Pete’s Marathons for the Mind challenge was inspired by Livability’s Flourish project at their wellbeing discovery centre ‘Livability Holton Lee.’ With a particular understanding of mental health and disability, the wellbeing discovery centre is set in 350 acres of beautiful Dorset countryside. It is one of many services that Livability runs across the UK. From gardening therapy, arts and ceramics, bird watching, walking and accessible camping, visitors can benefit from an inclusive and supportive community.

‘Flourish’ is a gardening therapy programme for people living with mental health and disability. People learn new skills, build confidence, make new friends and have fun. People arrive at the centre with different needs, arising from mental health challenges and a wide range of disabilities – but feeling isolated is a common theme.

Watch a film about the Flourish project


Cheering Pete on – the people that use the Flourish service

Everyone that takes part in the Flourish project were incredibly supportive of Pete’s marathon challenge. They supported him through running and training, and making messages of support from garden produce at the centre.

The difference Flourish makes – in the words of people that use the service

98% of people that attended Flourish in a year reported an increase in skills and social connections.

Emma Browning at Fourish, Livability Holton Lee

Project worker Emma Browning says: Flourish’s culture of acceptance and building to people’s strengths is key, she adds: “When people arrive, I can see in their face that first morning that they’re questioning where they will fit in. Then you can see it dawning on them that there is no need to ‘fit in’, no clique, because everyone fits in. Everybody is open and welcoming to new people. They take an interest in them as a person – they talk about what TV they’ve watched, what football team they support. Conversations and friendships just start.”

For Chris, his confidence with others now extends beyond sharing a task to offering emotional support: ‘Being part of a team, I’ve learned team bonding and better communication skills. I help others when they’re upset. I calm them down, talk to them, take them somewhere quiet. I get them to explain the situation and what they feel.’

For Rachel, following job loss and other challenges in her life, she had withdrawn almost completely from friends and family. “Flourish was my chance to try new things in a life-changing place.”

A project that’s connected to community

With 97% of people who attend Flourish reporting an increase in social networks and a decrease in social isolation, Livability’s Flourish project is a standout service with local referring agencies.

Poole Hospital is a regular referrer and says: “Flourish is our first choice…because this service is so different from other places we can refer. It’s also unique because Flourish encourages people to work together, regardless of what issues they are trying to overcome; this allows people to make a genuine contribution.”

Bournemouth and Poole College is similarly impressed by the impact on their clients: “Coming to Livabilty’s Holton Lee helps so much with forming relationships. Those who find it hard to fit in and be compliant elsewhere absolutely thrive there!”

You can still support Peter… Sponsor the Marathons for the Mind challenge here! →

Visit the Holton Lee web site
Read more about Livability’s Friendship Really Matters campaign

It is a way to challenge myself and use my running ability to try and make a positive difference. It's also my way of showing to myself, and hopefully others, that it's ok to admit when things have gone too far and that it is possible to change.

Pete Thompson

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