Editor’s comment: Whether for joy or tragedy, we can unite

Hackney Winter Night Shelter runners and supporters after a team of 50 completed the Hackney Half fo

Hackney Winter Night Shelter runners and supporters after a team of 50 completed the Hackney Half for the homelessness charity. Picture: Hackney Winter Night Shelter/Gemma Harvey - Credit: Hackney Winter Night Shelter/Gem

It was really great (if a little intimidating) to be at the finish line of the Hackney Half on Sunday morning.

Regrettably I hadn’t got there by running 13 miles, but by walking a much more leisurely two or three from my front door. Nevertheless, the atmosphere was infectious and it was fantastic to see our three Gazette runners completing the course within two hours and raising hundreds of pounds for the Winter Night Shelter.

I was at the town hall on Friday to help judge the second annual civic awards, and the conversation inevitably turned to the Hackney Half because literally all the other judges – including the mayor – were taking part. If, at that point, I felt motivated primarily by embarrassment to run next year, then the sight of everyone stretching and collecting their medals in the sunshine was all the convincing I needed that it would be a really fun thing to do – even if I take forever to finish, which seems inevitable. And now I’ve taken the unwise step of putting it in print I have little choice but to stick to my pledge. Watch this space (and hit me up if you want a running partner with no stamina or patience).

The fact Hackney can come together for a joyous event like this is the flipside of the much more sombre kind of community spirit we will see on Sunday: a march from Islington to Hackney in memory of those across both boroughs who have lost their lives to knife crime. Among them will be Philippa Addai, Marcel’s mother, who speaks so candidly about her grief.

Marches don’t save lives, but lifesaving projects are born when diverse groups come together with a common goal. I have high hopes for the ideas that come out of Sunday, and the message it sends to Hackney’s kids: that we will fight for them. And I’m proud that our borough can unite in both joy and tragedy to make a difference.