A trustee of United Response, a national disability charity, is running the London Marathon on 24 April to raise funds for the cause he is passionate about – supporting people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and mental health needs.

Charles Garthwaite, 50, joined United Response’s board of trustees as an Honorary Treasurer in early 2015.

He commented on his decision to join the board:

“I have always had a keen sense of social justice but have rarely found the right opportunity to be able to meet the obligations I felt I had to society as a whole.

“In particular, it was the philosophy of United Response, with its wonderful determination to ensure that those we care for are able to have as many choices and freedoms as possible, that really attracted me to it.

“People with learning disabilities are overlooked by our society and becoming a trustee was the most fantastic opportunity and honour to make a really powerful difference for a group of people who are too often last in line.”

Charles is the Global Head of Operational & Conduct Risk at Aegon NV, the Dutch international insurance business, based in The Hague.

His previous charitable work includes working on a major conservation project in Mauritius, seeking to save three species of birds from extinction. He was a trustee for the supporting charity, but wanted to be part of a charity in the UK.

Charles Garthwaite wearing his United Response running vestCharles getting ready to train for the marathon

The work United Response does is close to Charles’ heart.

“I am determined to try and help United Response continue to make this sort of difference for those we care for. I have seen the remarkable difference that active charities can make to people’s lives, as I have two nephews who have a rare genetic disorder,” said Charles.

For Charles, running his first marathon means taking time out of an already very hectic schedule, but he is determined to do it to raise the profile of the charity, demonstrate the commitment of trustees and to accomplish a personal challenge.

He said:

“Because of my working life, getting the time to visit our services and spend time with staff and those who we care for is extremely difficult for me. But squeezing in 10 hours a week for training over the last five months is something I can do - I hope it really shows on the day!

“I think that Camilla, my wonderful wife, and my family probably think I have lost my marbles taking on such a task when my working life is so full. But they have been incredibly supportive and really understand the wider context. In fact, they have been so supportive that three of them chose to join me when I ran the Surrey Half-Marathon in March as a test-run. Now that's commitment!”

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Donate to Charles' fundraising page