Sunderland Olympian Aly Dixon joins in schoolboy’s charity challenge in memory of grandad

Aly Dixon runs alongside Matthew McMahon and William Younger.
Aly Dixon runs alongside Matthew McMahon and William Younger.

A kind-hearted schoolboy who set out to raise funds for the hospice where his loving grandad died got some unexpected support when an Olympian joined him in his charity challenge.

Eight-year-old Matthew McMahon, of Sunderland, was determined to raise money for St Benedict’s Hospice in Ryhope which had cared for his grandad Tom Milligan up until his death from cancer in July, aged 63.

Matthew McMahon with his grandad Tom Milligan.

Matthew McMahon with his grandad Tom Milligan.

Matthew, a pupil at Northern Saints Primary School, decided to challenge himself by running 10 times around the running track at Silksworth Sports Complex to raise funds via sponsorship.

He was joined by his friend William Younger, nine, for the 2.5-mile effort.

But Matthew was delighted when Olympic long distance athlete Aly Dixon heard about his challenge and asked if she could support him by running a couple of laps alongside him and William.

The challenge has so far raised more than £450 for the hospice.

Athlete Aly Dixon with Matthew McMahon and William Younger.

Athlete Aly Dixon with Matthew McMahon and William Younger.

Matthew said: “Aly said she would do a couple of laps with us and then she kept on going round.

“We were talking to her all the way and asking lots of questions.

“It felt really good having her run with us. 
“She brought us each a goody bag too.

“It was a very hot day and it was really hard but I kept thinking there were lots of people sponsoring us so I didn’t want to let them down.”

Matthew McMahon (right) and William Younger after completing their charity challenge.

Matthew McMahon (right) and William Younger after completing their charity challenge.

Louise McMahon, Matthew’s mum, added: “Matthew is very passionate about running and loves athletics and this was a lovely way for him to give something back.

“We’re all very proud of him.”

Aly said: “St Benedict’s is very close to my heart and whenever I can help them I will.

“For a boy of Matthew’s age to process the grief of losing his granddad, and come up with a way of giving something back to the hospice off his own back, it’s really heartwarming and it’s great to see.”

Lisa Peverley, community fundraiser at St Benedict’s, said: “Matthew has shown great initiative and passion to raise so much money for the hospice.

“We’re incredibly grateful to him, his friend William and, of course, Aly, who’s an inspiration to so many young runners in the North East.”

Matthew’s family is also hosting a charity night for the hospice at Hepworth and Grandage Social Club, off Wessington Way, on November 3, at 7pm where the band Six Nowt, which Matthew’s granddad did the sound and lighting for, will be performing.

Tickets are £5 and can be bought on the door.

Matthew’s Just Giving page is at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/louise-mcmahon6