Runners to raise money for local wildlife

Durham Wildlife Trust is to be represented by fundraisers in the London Marathon for the first time in the latest challenge for a remarkable partnership.

Maryellen (left) and Val (right) are hoping to raise £1500 for DWT

Thousands of pounds have been raised for the organisation by entrants in the Great North Run down the years but when Sunderland duo Maryellen Wilkinson and Val Barella step out on April 22  it will be the first London Marathon in which DWT has been represented

Maryellen, 28, and Val, 51, met two years ago when they attended the same Weightwatchers class in Sunderland and decided that running together would help their fitness campaign.

When Maryellen ran in the Great North Run in 2016 in aid of Sunderland Samaritans, Val took part as well, then running numerous events including the GNR again in 2017.

Running all of their ‘firsts’ together, both women applied for places in this year’s London Marathon but only Val secured a number. However, DWT had arranged another place which was offered to Maryellen by the Trust’s Membership Officer, Emily, a member of the Silky Striders running club in Sunderland, which Val and Maryellen also attend.

Val said: “Myself and Maryellen always run the first event of its kind together. So for instance we ran our first Great North Run together and we wanted to run the first London Marathon together.

“I would have not have run the event this year without Maryellen. I would have deferred for a year but then Emily said Durham Wildlife Trust had a place.

“We are so excited to be taking part.”

The runners are hoping to raise £1,500 for the charity. Follow their progress and donate to their fundraising efforts here –


Why not mount your own challenge for local wildlife? Places are available to Members now for the Great North Run in 2018, contact Emily at for more info.