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Running for accessibility: Katie from Contacta runs the Brighton Half for RNID

Katie Thomas in a RNID running tshirt shows her medal, smiling at the camera. She stands in front of the Brighton coast. The sea is in the background.
Katie in her RNID running t-shirt shows her medal, standing in front of the sea.

Katie Thomas from our partner, Contacta Systems Ltd., recently took on the Brighton Half Marathon for RNID. Here, she shares her story: what inspired her to run for RNID, what kept her going and how she smashed her fundraising target!

What inspired you to take on the Brighton half Marathon in support of RNID?

I ran the London Marathon back in 2014 which was a huge challenge, having never really run properly. Training was gruelling, but the day itself was an incredible experience, and after that I got the running bug, until my daughter came along a year later, then my son in 2021. They keep me on my toes, and with school runs and work, I lost my running mojo.

I picked up running again in 2023 when I turned 40 (there’s nothing like a milestone birthday to make you reflect on your life!) and joined a running club. Then, on New Years Eve at about 11.45pm (and after a few glasses of wine!), I decided I needed a challenge to work towards, so signed up for the Brighton Half.

I decided that it would be a great opportunity to raise funds for a charity, and there was really only one charity that I wanted to do it for.

How has the RNID’s mission or cause personally impacted you or someone close to you?

I work for Contacta Systems Ltd, a family run company who design, manufacture, and install hearing loop systems and assistive listening technology for stores, businesses, public spaces and venues globally. Through the research that the company do, and the feedback gained from our engineers or clients, we get to hear first hand the difference these systems make to people with hearing loss.

We’ve learned that hearing loss is incredibly isolating and can cause worry and anxiety. It can make communication difficult and prevent people from doing everyday jobs like food shopping, being able to visit and enjoy trips to the theatre, museums or entertainment venues, if these places are not accessible.

My grandad set up Contacta back in 1970, and it is now run by my Dad. My uncle is Business Development Director and my auntie and cousin also support the organisation. The company is made up of a loyal, close, and hardworking team who believe in, and are passionate about, the products and the difference they make to people’s lives. The company works closely with RNID to help promote and campaign for inclusive and accessible environments for everyone.

Katie and other Half Marathon runners pass by Brighton’s Royal Pavilion

Can you share a memorable moment or story from your training or fundraising efforts for RNID?

Being in the midst of a cost of living crisis I didn’t expect to raise much and didn’t like to ask people to donate as times are tough. But I have been absolutely blown away by the number of colleagues, friends and family that kindly sponsored me! I’m overwhelmed by people’s generosity. I didn’t expect to reach my target of £250, so to have more than tripled it is incredible.

I have currently raised £910 and have decided to keep the page open for a few months longer, in the hope of making it £1,000. In June, I’m taking on the Whitstable 10K and aim to complete it in under an hour. I’ll use that sponsorship to top up my sponsorship pot for RNID.

Did you face any challenges during your training, and how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge was sneaking out the house for a training run each weekend without my two year old son seeing me (who rarely lets me leave his sight)!

Training through the winter in the cold, wet and windy weather is not much fun, and it was very tricky finding the time around work and the kids, but getting a bit of time to myself and running through the Kent countryside was actually a treat, even if it meant very sore muscles and feet the following day.

What would you say to someone who is considering taking on a challenge like the Brighton Half Marathon for RNID?

Before I started training, I couldn’t run 10 minutes without getting out of breath. To be able to run 13 miles after a few months was a real achievement. After weeks of bad weather, the rain actually stopped on the morning of the race, and the course was lined with spectators and supporters which was incredible. That support, and knowing that I was doing it for such a good cause, really motivated me.

I know the money raised will make a difference and help RNID fund their research into new and better treatments to help change people’s lives.

Inspired to take on a challenge?

An enormous thank you to Katie. Without supporters like her, we couldn’t make the difference we do. If you’re inspired to support RNID, explore our range of challenges and races!
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