FAMILY and friends of West Somerset student Iris Hammond, aged 20, have helped to raise nearly £30,000 for Down’s Syndrome charities with a Land’s End to John O’Groats run which ended on Wednesday (April 3).

The 14-day event, which was called RunAcrossUK, was organised by Iris, who was inspired by her 12-year-old sister Nancy, who has the condition.

It involved a team of more than 70 Down’ Syndrome Association runners from all over the country who each shared Iris’s vision of creating a world where people like Nancy were actively encouraged to achieve their goals.

Each completed at least one leg of the near 1,200-mile journey, with Iris kick-starting it on World Down’s Syndrome Day (March 21) by running the first 17 miles from Land’s End to Hayle, with Nancy also completing the first mile alongside her.

Iris and Nancy Hammond.
Iris and Nancy Hammond. PHOTO: Family. ( )

Iris, who lives in Shurton, near Stogursey, and studies law and business at the University of the West of England, in Bristol, and also works as a waitress, personally raised more than £4,500 after originally setting a collective target of £10,000.

The money will be shared between the two charities Down’s Syndrome Association and Down’s Syndrome Scotland.

Iris said: “These fabulous charities are on the same mission as me to create a more inclusive and empowering society.

“Nancy, is bright, funny, kind, sporty, competitive, and creative. She is my biggest blessing.

“She has inspired me to organise this event because viewing the world through her eyes is one of the most beautiful parts of my life.

“She has taught me patience, kindness, and unconditional love.

“The aim of RunAcrossUK is to spark a new conversation and show the world the capabilities of people with Down’s Syndrome.”

Iris and Nancy’s parents Ralph and Amanda Hammond also completed legs of the run, as did their aunties Sara Davies and Alison Rostron, cousin Flo Duckworth, and uncle Howard Davies, who had cycled the entire route seven years ago.

Mrs Hammond, who ran two legs in Cornwall and in Scotland, said: “When Nancy was born in 2011 with Down’s Syndrome we all had to get used to what that meant to us as a family.

“Nancy brings us huge joy, she is fiercely competitive and loves playing and watching sport.

“That is why this run across the UK is a great way to raise money for this charity.”

Among close friends also taking part were Emilia Edgington, Lily Rogers, and Kieren Battle.

Members of Kilve Cricket Club, of which Nancy is a popular and important member, showed their support by running the 18-mile Okehampton to Crediton stretch of the event.

A Down’s Syndrome Association spokesperson said: “Children and adults with Down’s syndrome are all unique individuals with their own personalities, family backgrounds, and preferences that make them who they are.

“We aim to create the conditions that all people with Down’s Syndrome need to live full and rewarding lives.”

Anybody who wants to support the fund-raising initiative can find the online page here.