City runners vote church supporters the real race winners

September 29, 2016

Riverside Family Church has proved to be the most motivating group in Southampton as the winning Milemakers at this year's ABP Southampton Half Marathon.

After handing out jelly beans and refreshments to runners and supporters along the city centre route, the church volunteers were chosen to receive ABP Southampton’s £500 prize as the most motivational group taking part.

Now the Northam-based church members have decided to use the cash windfall to set up an open access cafe for all at the local community centre.

Riverside Family Church minister Neil Maddock says they are delighted to have been voted ABP Milemakers winners by runners who took part in the popular event.

“There were around 30 church volunteers of all ages cheering on the participants on the big day. We had live music and refreshments outside the church and the children were handing out jelly beans to runners - which were gratefully received!”

Neil and his assistant minister Andy Finn dressed in the jokey 118 TV advert costumes to encourage runners as they passed St Mary’s Stadium and the church also put up plenty of motivational banners. One read ‘Run the race with endurance’ and received lots of thumbs-up from those taking part.

It was the second year that Riverside had taken part as ABP Milemakers, volunteers who direct race participants through registration, give refreshments and encouragement along each mile of the course, and help with handing out the well-earned ABP Southampton Half Marathon and 10K medals at the finish line.

The 2016 ABP Southampton Half Marathon was a huge success with 31 groups of ABP Milemakers signing up to take part as volunteer marshals.

Neil ran in the inaugural race in 2015 - and says the church members will be back for more next year. “We are looking forward to taking part in 2017,” he said. “I may even get out my running shoes and compete as the event will be a full marathon.

“Winning the ABP Milemakers prize through nominations from those who were motivated by us on the day was a lovely surprise,” he added. “We are a real community group in the heart of the city and we will use the prize money to set up a cafe for everybody to enjoy.”

Alastair Welch, port director at ABP Southampton, was delighted to see the cash donation go to such a good cause.

He said: “The volunteers from Riverside Family Church proved to be excellent ABP Milemakers - they cheered, encouraged and made it a really happy community event.

“We are thrilled to hear that the prize will help set up a community cafe in Northam. ABP Southampton plays such a vital role in the city and it’s fantastic to see that our support is making things happen to benefit people in the community.

“I’d also like to thank all those who took part as ABP Milemakers as they made a huge difference to those taking part.”

Every charity or community group that took part as an ABP Milemaker received a £200 donation from ABP after the event in addition to the special £500 prize which was awarded to Riverside.