Jersey Paragliders swap the skies for the road to run in memory of a friend

Friday 15 Mar 2024

Many of the runners taking part in this year’s Hospice 2 Hospice Half Marathon are running to remember a loved one. Although there will be a fantastic atmosphere on race day, there will be moments along the way where each of our 700+ runners will take some time to reflect on people they have lost.

One group of runners are swapping the skies for the road to remember their friend Mark Chatel, who died last November and was supported by Jersey Hospice Care for 15 months.

Mark was an active member of the Jersey kitesurfing and paragliding community. Mark turned both of these activities into an art form and inspired his friends, showing them what was possible, and sharing the sea and sky with them in their joint passion for outdoor island life.

When his terminal brain cancer was diagnosed, his love for life was not diminished and he was determined to enjoy every moment he had left.

After Mark died, the paragliding community gathered together at their favourite watering hole, The Vic in the Valley pub, to share food, drink, and memories of him. Jersey Hospice Care’s Chairman, Goetz Eggelhoefer, who is also part of the group and a friend of Mark’s, came up with the bright idea that if they entered the Hospice 2 Hospice Half Marathon, he would personally match all the sponsorship that the group raised - pound for pound.

Immediately a flurry of hands went up, and even those who hate running found themselves signing up for the opportunity to cement their group bond and do it for Mark.

Bruce Carnegie is one of the Jersey Paragliders who hates running but signed up anyway, “I knew how I felt about running, but this is bigger than me. This immediately became a group bonding - a way of sharing our collective grieving process in pursuit of a good cause.”

The 10 paraglider pilots taking part have already raised close to £3,000 through their fundraising page.

Goetz said, “The staff of Jersey Hospice Care helped to support Mark throughout the final 15 months of his life and ensured his wish to die in the comfort of his own home and in the presence of his partner, Sue, was respected. Mark's contribution to the kite surfing and paragliding community in Jersey will stand forever, even as his presence is sorely missed by those who loved Mark and knew him well.”

If you would like to contribute to the Jersey Paragliders’ fundraising efforts, you can donate here.

If you would like to join them and run in the Hospice 2 Hospice Half Marathon you can sign up here.