Striders' Charities of the Year

Two tragic events that deeply affected the Desford Striders family during 2021 made the choice of charities to support during 2022 much easier than usual.

The aim during the year is to raise as much money as possible to be split between the Stroke Association and the Sandcastle Trust after they were selected as the club’s joint Charities of the Year.

Tragedy first hit Striders in August, when club stalwart and run leader Stuart Hall suffered a major stroke and very sadly passed away two days later at the age of 55.

Stuart had been a member of Striders since 2018 after participating in the club’s very popular Couch to 5K programme and was in training to run the London Marathon when he passed away.

Stuart’s family had amazing support from the Stroke Association in the weeks and months after his death and the charity was therefore an obvious choice to benefit from the year’s fundraising.

The Stroke Association aims to support people to rebuild their lives after stroke, providing specialist support, funding critical research and campaigning to make sure people affected by stroke get the very best care and support. 

A spokesperson said: “Rebuilding lives after a stroke is a team effort. It takes the determination of stroke survivors and carers, the generosity of supporters and the dedication of the healthcare and research communities to get there.   

“To help in the recovery of stroke survivors we provide information, support and advice.”

As a large national charity, key areas of the Stroke Association’s work include support services, information, research, fundraising, campaigning and volunteering.


At the opposite end of the charity spectrum is the second good cause chosen by Striders, the Sandcastle Trust, which supports families living with a diagnosis of a rare genetic condition.

As a small independent charity, many people will not even have heard of the Sandcastle Trust, but Striders wanted to fundraise for it as a thank you for the immense support it gave to Striders’ member Gemma Dixey and her family after her son Noah was diagnosed with an extremely rare genetic condition, Alagille syndrome, when he was just eight weeks old.

Noah had been in and out of hospital all his life, having numerous operations. In October 2021, having just turned nine, Noah very sadly passed away just three days after undergoing a 14-hour operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital, in London.

The Sandcasle Trust aims to build lasting positive family memories and strengthen family relationships through the provision of bespoke respite packages called Sandcastle Memories.

Its vision is a future where a diagnosis of a rare genetic condition will not be a barrier to experiencing everything that life has to offer – most importantly enjoying life experiences and making memories as a family.

The Trust works directly with affected families to ensure the respite provided is diverse and completely tailored to a family’s interests and needs.  It could take the form of a short UK break, annual passes to attractions such as zoos, farms and steam railways or a special day trip.

It also allows families like the Dixeys to meet with other families in a similar situation, providing a vital avenue of support and resulting in lasting friendships, as well as supporting families who have suffered a bereavement as a result of a rare genetic condition.


Striders chairman Andy Ball said: “It was a double tragedy for the extended Striders family to suffer two such sad losses during 2021.

“Stuart Hall’s stroke and subsequent passing hit everyone at the club extremely hard. He was a tremendously popular member and had thrown himself wholeheartedly into Striders and, as one of our trained run leaders, encouraged other runners in his totally inimitable style.

“Although many of us at the club did not know Noah Dixey personally, we knew of him and his brave battle against the odds through his mum Gemma, one of our own. His passing at the tragically young age of just nine therefore touched us all.

“Supporting two such great charities – very different in every respect – was an easy choice for the club to make after two heartbreaking events in the same year and we hope we can raise as much money as possible to help them continue their vital work in Stuart’s and Noah’s memories.”

More information about the Stroke Association can be found on its website at stroke.org.uk, whilst for details of the work and support offered by the Sandcastle Trust, visit sandcastletrust.org