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Young Bury St Edmunds triathletes take on lockdown Ironman challenge in aid of West Suffolk Hospital




Two young triathletes are taking on a lockdown Ironman challenge to support West Suffolk Hospital where one of their parents works and treats patients with coronavirus.

Friends Ella Stewart and Sam Blackwell, both 11, of Bury St Edmunds, are using pop up pools in their gardens and static bikes to help them complete their 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile marathon run.

They are taking on the challenge separately due to social distancing but aim to finish with a run at the same time on May 6 – around the time the latest phase of lockdown will be reviewed.

Ella Stewart. Picture by Mecha Morton
Ella Stewart. Picture by Mecha Morton

Sam’s mum Alison, development director for Abbeycroft Leisure, said: “We’re incredibly proud they wanted to do something to help others and use their love of sport.”

Both are members of West Suffolk Wheelers Junior Triathlon Club, Saint Edmund Pacers and West Suffolk Swimming Club - and with all on hold, Ella wanted to do something to support the hospital, where her mum Helen works as a respiratory physiotherapist and treats patients with coronavirus.

Ella, who received surgery at the hospital when she was younger for developmental dysplasia of the hip, challenged Sam and they are now well under way.

Sam Blackwell. Picture by Mecha Morton
Sam Blackwell. Picture by Mecha Morton

Helen said: “Ella has been amazing. She realises what’s going on when I go out to work.”

Ella also has asthma and, given her hip surgery, Helen said she and husband Craig were ‘really proud’ of the fact their daughter does any sport and it was ‘lovely’ she wanted to give back to the hospital.

Ella, a pupil at Abbots Green Academy, is the Eastern region triathlete champion for the 9 to 10 age group and Sam, who attends Sexton’s Manor Primary, represented the Eastern region under 12 team at the British Triathlon’s Big Weekend.

Ella’s dad Craig and Sam’s mum Alison represented GB in the European Age Group Duathlon Championship in Punta Umbria, Spain, earlier this year.

Ella and Sam with double Olympic triathlon champion Alistair Brownlee
Ella and Sam with double Olympic triathlon champion Alistair Brownlee

Ella and Sam met their ‘sporting hero’ double Olympic triathlon champion Alistair Brownlee there.

Saint Edmund Pacers has donated £250 to the hospital’s MyWiSH charity in support of the athletes.

Sally Daniels, appeal manager at MyWiSH, said: “We can’t thank Sam and Ella enough for taking on this amazing challenge.

Sam Blackwell. Picture by Mecha Morton
Sam Blackwell. Picture by Mecha Morton

"It’s just so wonderful how the community of all ages are wanting to support their local hospital.

"The money will make such a difference to both staff and patients."

To donate visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/helen-stewart22

Ella Stewart. Picture by Mecha Morton
Ella Stewart. Picture by Mecha Morton