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The Ironman so far

1st March 2013

The man everyone’s talking about, Andy Ridout, Managing Director of advance Training and Recruitment Services (advance-TRS), is storming towards his fundraising target of £10,000. As previously reported, the driven Recruitment guru will be embarking on his second Ironman challenge this September, in honour of the charity Railway Children. Having already raised a staggering £7,221.00 Andy looks set to make a big difference to the cause that improves the lives thousands of young people each year.

In the UK 100,000 children run away annually, their disappearance often goes unreported. William, aged 14 was one such child. Having been subjected to neglect by his mother, a drug addict, William had no bedroom, had never been to school and was surrounded by substance abusers on a daily basis.

Three weeks after he left home, he was noticed by a concierge who put him in touch with Aberlour, the young runaway service supported by Railway Children. Homeless, hungry and withdrawn William was given a place to stay and began to reveal himself as an articulate and kind young man. William began attending school and is now training as an apprentice.

There are thousands more children like William across the UK, many run away in an attempt to escape, violence, physical or sexual abuse and neglect at home. They are forced to sleep rough on the streets, unnoticed and uncared for, often ‘dropping out’ of society altogether. Railway Children helps to provide safe places for these young people.

Children’s Services Manager, Laura Irvine has been working closely with the charity for the past 10 years. She commented,

“So many young people are overlooked; children must feel safe, loved and secure in order to become the adults we need in our society. If we ignore our young people it is us who will be responsible for the adults they become. Children are our future and must be nurtured”

Clare was 14 when her mum told her she didn’t want her anymore.

“It all started to go wrong when my mum and dad split up,” she explained. “Mum was out all the time leaving me alone with me younger brother. She would arrive home drunk and play music really loud. We usually had to stay up at night to look after her.”

Despite being kept up late, Clare and her brother were expected to get up for school, her mum would get angry and hit them when they said they were tired. At school they were usually in no fit state to learn, would fight and get into trouble.

The day her mum told her to leave, Clare went to school as usual, and then to her dad’s house.

“I got a phone call from my mum saying to come and pick my clothes up. When we got to the house all my clothes were in bags outside”

Clare’s dad was supportive but worked long hours and had to leave the house early. Gradually she began associating with the wrong people, not going to school, and staying out at night.

“Sometimes I’d come home in the early hours of the morning and sometimes I wouldn’t come back at all.”

Eventually, Clare’s dad became worried and reported her missing to the police. As a result, she was referred to the local runaway project and was allocated a key worker funded by Railway Children.

The key worker built up a relationship with Clare and worked on her self-esteem and coping strategies through getting her involved with positive activities. As a result Clare’s self-esteem has increased. Her attendance at school has risen from 60% to 92%, she no longer runs away or gets into trouble with the police and she wants to work with young people as a career.

In a society that claims to offer equal opportunities, it is ironic that so many children are ignored, forgotten and allowed to slip through the net into poverty and abuse. According to Laura the economic downturn has, without a doubt, seen the situation become worse. Many families are breaking down due to financial stresses, resulting in a higher percentage of ‘at risk’ children.

A spokesperson for Railway Children commented “There are many things that can be done to ease the pressure for families. People need safe places across the country that can offer support free of judgement”

Andy is doing all he can to help the Railway Children and is training hard to ensure that his target is reached.

“I have been running 6 miles to work and home every day” he explained. “I will be entering the Reading Half Marathon in March, The London Marathon in April, The Windsor Triathlon in June, and other smaller events in between. It is my aim to get everybody involved in what I’m doing, whether it be by coming along to offer support, donating, or entering yourself!”

“All children are innocent, just like yours and mine and their vulnerability is very real. I believe that we as individuals, the rail industry and society all have a responsibility to help young people reach their potential.”

You can follow Andy’s progress in the race to beat child neglect and poverty by visiting his fundraising page at contacting him directly on 01483 361 061 or donate to the cause at

“Together we can put an end to the exploitation of innocence.”