Family team to run Half Marathon in memory of much-loved great granddad (24th Sept)

Published on: Friday, 15th September 2023
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Ron Holden with son Mark

A close family from Swadlincote are tackling this month’s Robin Hood Half Marathon in memory of their much-loved dad, grandad, and great granddad, ‘Rocket’ Ron Holden, 89, who died earlier this year and will raise funds for Risley-based Treetops Hospice.

Ron’s son Mark, 61, will be accompanied on the Robin Hood Half Marathon on 24th September with grown-up children Ashley, Matthew and Haley, daughters-in-law Clare and Katie, and Haley’s fiancée Bradley.

Mark’s wife Paula and several other family members including Ron’s great-grand-children will be in the crowd encouraging them to the finish line.

They are running in aid of local charity Treetops Hospice which provides nursing care and emotional support for local patients and families. 

Treetops nurses helped care for Ron at home at the end of his life

Ron, born in Caldwell in Southern Derbyshire, was a real family man as Mark explained: “If you had cut dad through the middle, you would find one word written throughout and that would be “family”. As much as his own family came first, he made everyone who came into contact with him feel as if they too were part of his family.”

Ron trained as a motor mechanic and completed National Service in Germany with the Royal Eletcrical and Mechanical Engineers in his youth.

When diagnosed with dementia around 10 years ago, Ron and wife, Pauline, agreed they wanted to receive care in their family home. 

“Home was a place that dad cherished dearly,” Mark continued. “It was a place full of both happy and sad memories. A place of tears of joy and sadness, and all the other trials and tribulations that come with a family. But more over it was a place of overwhelming love and laughter.

“Mum and dad shared a devotion to each other that the majority of us can only dream of. It was this devotion that enabled dad to be loved and cared for at home right the way throughout his illness until he finally passed away.”

As Ron’s condition deteriorated, the family got in touch with Treetops Hospice for extra help.

“Dad had to stay downstairs towards the end. He had his bed in the lounge and mum was sleeping on the settee if there was no-one there at night. We were having carers in four times a day and four nights a week. But as it got closer towards the end, mum was finding it very difficult.”

Treetops Hospice at Home nurses helped care for Ron during the last few weeks of his life. 

“The Treetops Hospice at Home nurses made it easier because it allowed us to get some rest at nighttime. We could then focus on caring in the daytime. As a family, it also gave us that peace of mind that there was going to be someone with him and my mum during the night. It allowed her to at least get some sort of decent rest. 

“It can be a bit of a rollercoaster with real ups and downs, but the Treetops nurses had the experience, and the time to talk to us.”

Mark admits he’s not a keen runner and finds the thought of the half marathon rather daunting. He said: “13 miles is a long way, isn't it? I did a little bit of running when I was younger, but not much anymore. So, I’m looking forward to the end of the half marathon.

“For me, it’s more about the camaraderie of us all doing the race. We'll all start together but I'm sure there'll be some competition amongst us as to who’s going to finish first. 

“Most of us taking part are keen sportspeople like dad. Dad always told us he had a trial for Derby County. That was his claim to fame. In his younger days he watched me play football and he watched all three of his grandchildren play.

“He was a man with a heart as big as an ocean and a gentle kindness. We've said often that we wouldn't have had the same amount of time, quality time, with dad without the Treetops nurses. Dad and mum wanted him to be at home and Treetops were able to make that happen.”

The team are hoping to raise around £1,000 for the local hospice based in Risley.

Treetops welcomes people to take part in a wide range of runs, bike rides and other challenges to raise money for the local charity. For further information, visit or call 0115 949 1264.

This year, Treetops Hospice is celebrating 40 years of caring for people and their families in the local community. During this time, the hospice has supported thousands of patients with end-of-life nursing care and bereavement counselling.

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