Willow Leeming is a young girl on a fundraising mission! She wanted to make a difference locally to those facing homelessness so recently trained for, and completed, a challenging 10km run. In doing so she raised a mighty £1820 for HOMELINK, an amount which has directly helped re-home and reunite a local family separated under difficult circumstances.

Willow with her chickens

Willow with her chickens

“Homelessness has always upset me so I feel really positive that I’ve done something to help” Willow told us after her run. “I didn’t just sit there – that makes me feel really happy inside”.

Willow has had an awareness of homelessness from a young age when she would visit her Grandma in Edinburgh and see people living on the streets there.

Aged 11, and still concerned about the trauma of homelessness, Willow decided to take action and start fundraising. Her efforts began last year with the set-up of a road-side stall selling eggs from her chickens. Motivated by the generosity of passers-by, with some people donating up to £5.00 for a box of eggs, Willow decided to step things up and train for a 10km solo run but had yet to decide which charity she would support.

“Willow loved the idea of doing something about local homelessness so when I told her about HOMELINK she knew she’d found the right charity to focus her fundraising for” explained Willow’s Mum, Nina.

Not having run 10 kilometres before, Willow began fitness training a month before her fundraiser and, with the help of her family, mapped out a challenging circular route which took in Staplefield, Balcombe, Cuckfield and – lots of hills:

Willow and her dog

“The hardest bit of the run was the last bit which was down a really steep hill then back up a hill at the end of the run. I was really tired, my legs were in autopilot” Willow said.

“I kept myself going by giving myself goals knowing that every step I took was going towards getting someone’s life back on track”.

With her family and dog there to greet her, Willow crossed the finish line in one hour eight minutes! What’s even more impressive is that this is only the second time she has run 10 kilometres; she even beat her first ‘PB’ by 11 minutes.

“When I finished my run I just felt amazing and felt like I’d really done something to make a change for someone’s life. It made me feel really happy.”

Mum, Nina, is particularly thrilled that Willow has realised her dream to help those facing homelessness in her local community:

“It’s been a big thing for our family. It’s been wonderful to do this with her and for a girl of her age to feel empowered to do something for someone else and make a difference”.


THANK YOU Willow – we’re so amazed and inspired by your fundraising efforts and hope others will be, too.

If you’d like to become a fundraising champion like Willow and support our #homes4families campaign click HERE to find out more.