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Celebs Run for It!

Published on 28 January 2013 06:00 AM

Olympian Kelly Sotherton and Hollyoaks stars Tom Scurr and James Atherton rise to London Marathon challenge

Hit soap Hollyoaks stars Tom Scurr and James Atherton and former UK Olympic heptathlete Kelly Sotherton are gearing up to take part in one of the biggest charity running challenges on the planet - the Virgin London Marathon on April 21st.

The celebrities, who have already been training hard, are now encouraging other marathon runners across the country to join them and raise money for joint official charities Age UK and YouthNet to fund a new service which aims to tackle the devastating effects of loneliness and isolation across generations.

New research announced by the charities today reveals that almost a third (32%)(i) of grandparents aged 65+ in Great Britain only see their grandchildren once a month or less. The figure is released today by Age UK, the leading UK charity for older people, and YouthNet, the pioneering online young people's charity, which have joined forces to tackle isolation and loneliness across generations. Young people are also affected, with 19%(ii) of 16 to 25 year-olds ranking loneliness as one of their top fears for the future alongside debt and money worries in a separate survey.

Hollyoaks actors, Tom Scurr, who plays student Barney Harper-McBride and James Atherton who plays student Will Savage, are running the Virgin London Marathon for the second time. They said: 'We're easing back into our training now and reminding ourselves, pain and challenge aside, how exciting it all is! We keep each other going and look forward to getting mentally and physically prepared for the epic challenge! The cast of Hollyoaks are also giving us support. Most importantly we're running for Age UK and YouthNet - to tackle loneliness and isolation, for people of all ages, a very important cause.'

Former UK Olympic heptathlete and 400m sprinter Kelly Sotherton will be taking part in her first ever Virgin London Marathon. She said: 'I set my sights on running the Virgin London Marathon after retiring from the Olympics and I couldn't be more thrilled to be running it for Age UK and YouthNet to tackle loneliness and isolation. It's a very worthy cause - I hate the thought of people feeling alone. Together we can do so much to help.'

The charities are setting up a digital service which aims to offer isolated older people the chance to learn how to use the internet and take advantage of ways to stay in touch with family and friends such as email and online chat, as well as saving money and finding out about new hobbies. Younger people will be given the opportunity to develop their confidence and learn new skills by sharing their digital experience with older people in their local communities.

Paul Farthing, Fundraising Director at Age UK said: 'It's brilliant to have Kelly, Tom and James running for us. With their help, we're able to show just how serious loneliness and isolation can be. I urge anyone who's looking for a challenge this year to join our marathon team to help us raise funds and tackle this terrible issue.'

Emma Thomas, CEO of YouthNet, said: 'We're so grateful to Kelly, Tom and James for supporting us and hope they inspire others to sign up for the final places left in ‘Team Run for It'. The money raised will help us tackle isolation across generations and give young people the chance to share their passion and understanding of the digital world with a different generation, to help improve lives.'

As official charities for the 2013 Virgin London Marathon, Age UK and YouthNet have approximately 350 guaranteed places and are looking for people with their own place in the race to also join the team. For more information and to find out how you can join ‘Team Run for It' (Age UK and YouthNet's marathon team) and take part in the Virgin London Marathon 2013 please go to opens link in new window or call 0800 169 87 87 or email

Any older people suffering from loneliness or isolation can call Age UK's free advice line on 0800 169 6565. Lines are open from 8am to 7pm, seven days a week, where people can also find out how to contact their local Age UK. Alternatively visit Home.  People aged 16-25 who need support around any issue can get anonymous, expert advice online through YouthNet's guide to life, opens link in new window


Notes to editors

i - TNS Capi Omnibus for Age UK (August 2012), 65+ (1,242 GB)
ii - v - Fear and Hoping (2011) is the result on an online survey hosted on YouthNet's website,, between 22nd August and 26 September 2011. 1,101 respondents aged 16 to 25 living in the UK completed the survey

Media contact
For more information on Age UK or for celebrity interviews please contact Karen Richards on 0203 0331428 or email

For more information on YouthNet call Katy Miller on 0207 2505779 or email

Age UK
For media enquiries relating to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland please contact the appropriate national office: Age Scotland on 0131 668 8055, Age Cymru on 029 2043 1562 and Age NI on 028 9024 5729.

Age UK is the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged, dedicated to improving later life.

We provide free information, advice and support to over six million people; commercial products and services to over one million customers; and research and campaign on the issues that matter to people in later life. Our work focuses on five key areas: money matters, health and well being, home and care, work and training and leisure and lifestyle. We work with our national partners, Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI (together the Age UK Family), our local Age UK partners in England and local Age Concerns. We also support older people in more than 40 of the world's poorest countries through our subsidiary charity Age International and as a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and company number 6825798). Age Concern England and Help the Aged (both registered charities), and their trading and other associated companies merged on the 1st April 2009. Together they have formed the Age UK Group ("we").  Charitable services are offered through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity's trading companies, which donate their net profits to Age UK (the Charity). 

• YouthNet is the UK's first exclusively online charity and was founded by Martyn Lewis CBE, in 1995. YouthNet does this through two online services; the guide to life for 16 to 25 year-olds and the UK's leading volunteering website Do-it

• provides essential, straight-talking, anonymous advice to young people aged 16 to 25 about the issues affecting their lives

• In 2012 there were over 1 million instances of 16 - 25 year olds in the UK getting support from

• 95% of 16 to 25 year-old users of who responded to a survey, said they took direct actions to improve their situation as a result of visiting the service

• has been helping to improve the lives of young people for 16 years, and includes a thriving and supportive online community of over 40,000 registered users

• Run by online charity YouthNet, Do-it ( hosts around 1 million volunteering opportunities, searchable by postcode, plus articles and advice on finding the perfect role

• By the end of December 2012 1,079,597 volunteers were registered on Do-it and each month more than 55,000 opportunities are applied for through Do-it.

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Last updated: Oct 06 2017

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