Navy father and son run London Marathon to help service families hit by tragedy

A father-and-son team will run a unique London Marathon this weekend to help fellow service families.

Former Chief Petty Officer Andrew Bowen and his leading hand son Curtis are running the virtual London marathon, spurred on by a personal tragedy and a desire to help military personnel cope with mental health issues.

 

Three years ago, Andrew’s youngest son and Curtis’ youngest brother Ryan took his own life aged just 18 – a reaction to something he saw on social media.

 

“Needless to say that this tragic event has caused our whole family massive heartache and trauma,” said 54-year-old Andrew, from Llanelli in South Wales.

 

Ryan was an organ donor and gave life to many other people as his vital organs were transplanted - we have letters from the organ recipients thanking us for the new lease of life and hope that Ryan’s unselfish gift has given them.

 

“That is one of the reasons why we want to honour his memory so much. But I also took up running to help me deal with the trauma and Curtis and his older Brother have also encouraged me and done ten-kilometre races and half marathons with me, helping me raise thousands of pounds for mental health charities.”


Andrew served in the RN for 23 years between 1983 and 2006, leaving as a Chief Weapon Engineering Artificer after time in HM Ships Cardiff, Glamorgan, Southampton, Intrepid, Amazon, Manchester and Gloucester.

 

After helping to commission both new aircraft carriers, his 24-year-old son is currently providing logistic support to HMS Forth – and any other RN vessel making use of East Cove Military Port with the team at Naval Engineering Falkland Islands.

 

Curtis was already a keen runner and fund-raiser before deploying to the South Atlantic. He ran ten ten-kilometre runs in as many days during lockdown to raise £3,000 for his local NHS Trust in Llanelli, Hywel Dda, to help towards the cost of a ventilator.

 

He has never run more than a half marathon (just over 13 miles) before and has only had five weeks to prepare for this virtual 26-mile slog.

This marathon will not be easy for me at my age and with my ageing legs and body but I can promise that I will put everything into completing this gruelling physical challenge of running 26 miles.

Former Chief Petty Officer Andrew Bowen

The pandemic put the kibosh on the traditional race around the capital at the end of April. Instead, some 45,000 people are due to run the distance on Sunday wherever they can, using an app to prove they’ve completed the marathon.

 

For dad, that means around his native Llanelli, for his son the rather cold, bleak surroundings of Mount Pleasant and East Cove in the Falklands.

 

“It was a shame that the marathon couldn’t go ahead as planned, but I think it’s amazing that I’m still able to take part in the Falklands – in fact, I’m the first person to ever run the London Marathon here,” said the acting leading hand.

 

His dad added: “Over half a million people tried to get into the 2020 London Marathon and I feel so lucky that I have been one of the lucky few to have been given this chance to run in it and help make a difference in people’s lives.

 

“This marathon will not be easy for me at my age and with my ageing legs and body but I can promise that I will put everything into completing this gruelling physical challenge of running 26 miles.”

 

The pair have already smashed the £6,000 target they set to help Forces charity SSAFA, but are continuing the virtual collection tin rattling. You can support the Bowens at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Andrew-Bowen-London-marathon2020