MEET Maisie – the eight-year-old fundraising triathlete.
The determined Winchcombe School pupil completed a gruelling triathlon at the weekend at her first attempt to raise money in memory of a family friend.
Little Maisie Hamilton-Unwin raced through the Newbury Triathlon course, which defeated a number of adults earlier that day, in under three hours, raising more £1,800 for cancer charities.
The athletic youngster, from Manor Park, smashed her £1,000 target after completing the 300m swim, 22km bike ride and 5km run on Sunday after the adults had finished.
Maisie completed the course along with her mother, Beckie Hamilton, who had already finished the official triathlon earlier that morning.
Beckie, a firefighter based at Newbury Fire Station, said: “She did brilliantly. Both her dad and I are so proud.
“In fact, her dad joked he was so proud on Sunday it was like he’d walked her down the aisle at her wedding.”
Maisie had never completed a triathlon before but, according to her mother, she is a keen swimmer and has experience hiking and even mountaineering – having climbed the third highest peak in Austria last summer with her father, Dan Unwin.
And after saying she wanted to raise money in memory of a family friend who had died after battling cancer, it was just a case of finding a fundraiser challenging enough.
Maisie decided to raise funds for Macmillan, Hospice UK, Children with Cancer and Brain Tumour Research.
“We lost a friend to a brain tumour in February,” said Beckie. “She said she wanted to do something for Richard (Webster), so we talked about some different things and then came up with the triathlon.
“It needed to be something that challenged her.
“I spoke with the organisers of the triathlon who said she could use the pool afterwards.
“She said she enjoyed the swim the most, and when she got back she was bouncing around and doing cartwheels.
“I’ve always said if she’s not enjoying it then I don’t want her to do it, but she just seems to love it.
“She’s just naturally the outdoors type. She’s not interested in computer games or iPads, she would always prefer to be outside.”
And Maisie herself was amazed at the amount of money raised, as well as the support she received on the day, with classmates, friends and even firefighters turning out to cheer her over the finish line, which was left up just for her.
Her mum added: “She was quite taken with the amount of money she was getting and just the interest of everyone.
“She’s always had a big heart.
“I’m so proud of her, I think it’s all quite overwhelming.”
To sponsor Maisie, or Beckie who is in the middle of her own Tough Mudder fundraiser, visit http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/firebirdbex